The PR BlogDigital PRDigital-FirstThe Digital-First Politician: 14 Principles To Live By

The Digital-First Politician: 14 Principles To Live By

A playbook for politicians who aspires to adapt.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Are you a digit­al-first politician?

In pub­lic rela­tions, polit­ic­al com­mu­nic­a­tion is often referred to as pub­lic affairs. But why haven’t more politi­cians embraced digit­al-first?

The inter­net is where most of our opin­ions are being moul­ded, debated, and spread through­out the vot­ing population. 

As we move deep­er into the digit­al age, it begs the ques­tion:
Are you keep­ing up with the times?

Here we go:

14 Principles for a Digital-First Politician

1. The digit­al-first politi­cian can speak online with ease. Most politi­cians are com­fort­able with speak­ing at stages, sem­inars, and ral­lies. But the digit­al-first politi­cian uses her smart­phone in a taxi to speak her heart out—Gary Vaynerchuck-style.

2. The digit­al-first politi­cian con­veys her mes­sage online with authen­t­ic pas­sion. Most politi­cians are com­fort­able turn­ing up the heat when facing an oppon­ent in a debate. But the digit­al-first politi­cian finds it easi­er to con­vey her authen­t­ic pas­sion when com­mu­nic­at­ing her mes­sage on social media.

3. The digit­al-first politi­cian has a grow­ing email list of her own. Most politi­cians strive to appear in con­texts where they can reach rel­ev­ant audi­ences. But the digit­al-first politi­cian util­ises the sheer power of email com­mu­nic­a­tions.

Recommendation: I use Mailchimp as my default email list manager.

4. The digit­al-first politi­cian is con­stantly bat­tling a stu­pid major­ity. Most politi­cians seek ways to engage the pub­lic by speak­ing to issues defined by the mass media. But the digit­al-first politi­cian will take her fight dir­ectly to stu­pid major­it­ies via social media.

5. The digit­al-first politi­cian cul­tiv­ates her unique social media voice. Most politi­cians use social media as a broad­cast medi­um for gen­er­ic polit­ic­al con­tent. But the digit­al-first politi­cian has real­ised that online fol­low­ers seek unique voices and tonalities.

6. The digit­al-first politi­cian is plugged into online backchan­nels for sup­port and dis­cus­sion. Most politi­cians use online com­mu­nic­a­tion to raise aware­ness and seek sup­port for their agenda. But the digit­al-first politi­cian will first use the inter­net as a sound­ing board to build sup­port in smal­ler for­ums and backchannels.

7. The digit­al-first politi­cian isn’t afraid to engage in respect­ful online dis­cus­sions. Most politi­cians don’t want the hassle of speak­ing dir­ectly with insig­ni­fic­ant people on social media. But the digit­al-first politi­cian respects the online equi­val­ent of con­nect­ing with ‘reg­u­lar folks’ in the streets, listen­ing to their stor­ies, and shak­ing their hands.

8. The digit­al-first politi­cian pub­lishes ori­gin­al, help­ful, and action­able con­tent. Most politi­cians are using the inter­net to broad­cast their mes­sages. But the digit­al-first politi­cian finds mediocre online con­tent dis­respect­ful to her voters (and a breach of the fol­low­er con­tract).

9. The digit­al-first politi­cian nur­tures a per­son­al brand on mul­tiple online plat­forms. Most politi­cians think that the choice of chan­nel is their prerog­at­ive. But the digit­al-first politi­cian is mind­ful of her sur­round mes­sage and embraces that audi­ences flow freely across online media.

10. The digit­al-first politi­cian offers a per­son­al online exper­i­ence. Most politi­cians treat online com­mu­nic­a­tion as a tra­di­tion­al medi­um like any oth­er. But the digit­al-first politi­cian will use the inter­net to con­vey her voice’s sound, her speech’s cadence, and all oth­er quirks that make her unique.

11. The digit­al-first politi­cian pri­or­it­ises her online tribe first. Most politi­cians con­sider the inter­net a great way to reach new audi­ences. But the digit­al-first politi­cian would be focused on inbound sig­nals and her exist­ing online tribe.

12. The digit­al-first politi­cian always keeps her online pres­ence inter­est­ing. Most politi­cians are look­ing at what oth­er politi­cians are doing online. But the digit­al-first politi­cian would focus on doing the oppos­ite of whatever oth­ers are doing (“zig­ging when oth­ers are zagging”).

13. The digit­al-first politi­cian is thank­ful for every reas­on to speak her truth online. Most politi­cians are afraid of inter­net trolls, inter­net hate, and being cri­ti­cised in gen­er­al. But the digit­al-first politi­cian would be thank­ful and use any cri­tique as a reas­on to speak on behalf of her agenda.

14. The digit­al-first politi­cian always uses clear call-to-actions to engage the audi­ence. Most politi­cians are happy if they get air­time in tra­di­tion­al media. But the digit­al-first politi­cian would instead focus on provid­ing her online fol­low­ing with a rel­ev­ant call to action.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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