The Power of Multi-Media in Political Campaigns
No one will argue with the assertion that communications staff or public relations (PR) group of any Government throughout the world would definitely utilize multi- media network to publicize Government information and deliver its goods and services to the public. The said multi-media, which involve the mainstream tri-media, social media via the Internet, including blogs and citizen-led campaign network, has undeniably played a crucial role in shaping the political landscape of a particular economy. Multi-media has also been branded as a very effective tool in sending across messages in converging people in the streets, demanding reforms or in worst-case scenario, in changing heads of Governments. It had been proven effective in certain countries as is the case of Egypt and Libya wherein technology and social media such as blogs, facebook, twitter, data gathering via e-mails and other networking sites worked to the advantage of the people who have clamored for change, resulting in removal of Government’s leadership.
In the same manner, the public relations or the communication’s staff of any politician utilizes multi- media in their campaigns to manage the latter’s public image and gauge public support. This is in reality a universal strategy, a norm used by various political groups to achieve a successful political campaign, not only in advanced nations but also in developing and third world countries.
The first U.S. Presidential election wherein President Obama was declared winner, was a classic example of an efficient utilization of multi-media. During the start of the nomination, Obama was nowhere in the picture, not so very famous to the public being a low-key Senator from Chicago. But due to his PR group’s use of an extensive and innovative multi-media specifically social networks and the huge data base of prospective voters, his supporters were successful in packaging him well, emphasizing his wits, abilities and charisma, which made him win at the end of the day.
The Philippines is looking forward for a mid-term election 4 days from now. A certain bulk of the electorates of the said country is technology and internet savvy, hence politicians are relying heavily on multiple media outlets to showcase and promote their individual platforms and agenda. Based on social monitor data culled out from socialbakers.com, the Philippines occupies the No. 8 slot of Facebook users by country. It has now 30.5 million monthly active users. On the other hand, Semiocast shows that Twitter users in the Philippines reached 9.5 million, making it No. 10 in the ranking all over the world.
Since voters in the Philippines are users of networking sites, it simply makes perfect sense for the politicians to reach out to them and appeal for their votes via the said social media venues. This is the reason why the politicians themselves, especially the not-so-young, have learned to use and embrace the internet, at least the rudiments of the said technology. In order to make them known and get their messages out to the public, the communication staff of the candidates would create websites solely for the campaign, others would hop from networking sites to the other, designing pages for voters to like, creating various accounts, interacting with social media users, posting at blogs, devising slogans, forming teams and crafting their respective causes. The said schemes shape voter’s view and perception toward the politicians and this has been proven to be a galvanizing force in the political arena.
Now that its barely days before the election, the politicians with their supporters are holding campaign sorties here and there to get the sympathy of the voters. But apart from campaign rallies, the politicians are also keen employing multi-media at an all time peak in order to gain momentum in the election surveys and to be ahead of the curve. Thus, if a candidate for Senator would be able to capture the facebook and twitter users alone, majority of whom are presumably eligible to cast ballots, it could give him or her the No. 1 Senatorial spot, on effortless basis!
The latest SWS survey reflected 6 new Senatorial candidates who would be able to make it to the Top 12, but are not so well known to voters, particularly in other regions of the country, namely: Nancy Binay, Bam Aquino, Grace Poe, JV Estrada, Cynthia Villar and Sonny Angara. Surely, the said 6 candidates have “name recalls”, being close kins of famous politicians, not to mention the endorsements of various groups for the said candidates, and which could form part of the determining factors for their possible seats in the Upper House. However, the influence and the “efficient” use of multi-media (whether for positive or negative attacks) could be the dynamic and major feature of their campaign. The communications strategy used by the PRs of the said candidates via multi-media has seemingly swayed the voter’s perception and it could favorably worked on their side.
Take for example the slogans used by Binay (“Nanay sa Senado” or “Mother in the Senate”) and Villar’s (“Misis Hanepbuhay” or “Mrs..Livelihood”?) appeared to have been bought by the sample voters as shown in the latest survey. Note that the said 2 candidates neither tap well known personalities to endorse them in tri-media ads nor were present in any scheduled debates, but still enjoying a comfortable advantage over the rest.
There’s no point in asking why or how come (?), we just have to respect the outcome, it only means democracy is working damn well (assuming there would be no cheats). We may have our choices and they could not be included in the top 12 in all of the surveys conducted by Pulse Asia and SWS. But, who knows, the ballots have not been cast yet and the latest survey had a sample of only 2,700 registered voters anyway ( with a national error margin of +/- 2 percentage points). There is still room for our Senatorial bets to rise up, just like the good Senator Jun Magsaysay. We know in our hearts and minds who among of the candidates are worthy of the seat in the “august chamber” and who would be able to serve and lift up majority of the Filipino people, the real, poor and struggling “Juan de la Cruz”.
So guys, go, get out and exercise your right to vote, but please vote the men and women who would be worthy to be addressed “Honorable”!