With the mid-term elections only a few weeks away, presumably even people who don’t follow the political circus are beginning to pay attention to it.
My first job in political relations was with a political PR firm, where I worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. Even after leaving that agency I worked on accounts with political overtones. Based on my experiences, here are several ways that people can become better informed voters.
- Do not take seriously what politicians say they will do while campaigning.
Reason Why: Party leaders might have a different agenda once the election is over.
- For at least a few weeks before Election Day, vary your TV and newspaper readership by listening to and purchasing more than one newspaper a day.
Reason Why: Doing so will provide different viewpoints that might help you decide who to support.
- Do not believe any political commentary you see on social media.
Reason Why: It should be obvious. Anyone can write a social media post filled with lies.
- Any political mail or telephone calls you receive should be ignored.
Reason Why: It’s obvious that it will only emphasize one side of the story.
- Do not be swayed by conversations with your neighbor.
Reason Why: Just because someone is a friend doesn’t mean that you have the same outlook on political (and other) matters.
- Do not believe any political ads on television.
Reason Why: They are crafted to support a particular candidate or cause, many without any regard for the truthfulness they convey.
- Become familiar with the political shows on cable television.
Reason Why: The great majorities act as propaganda outlets for various candidates or parties.
- Do not be swayed by political TV pundits or print columnists, who are also pundits.
Reason Why: They are just expressing their own opinions and are not objective.
The most important factor in becoming a more informed, and intelligent, voter is to have an open mind. Elected officials’ priorities change over the years and the candidate you voted for in past elections might not have the same viewpoints today or might have to abandon some positions because it does not fit their party’s agenda.
Even more important is that political party’s agendas can change over the years. A prime example is the current Republican Party, which has transformed from a right of center business-oriented party into a far-right organization with many extreme uncompromising office holders led by a former president who is largely responsible for the political divide in America.
Spending just several minutes each day throughout the year can make a person a better informed voter. Not doing so might result in your voting for a candidate whose positions you disagree with and result in legislation that you have to live with for decades.
The Important Lesson For People In Our Business
I encourage young PR practitioners to get involved with politics by volunteering with the political party of their choice.
There are three important reasons for them doing so. They will learn publicity strategies that are not practiced, but should be, at non-political agencies, they will meet influential people who might be a help to them in their careers. It also will give them a leg up on being assigned to agency semi-political accounts, which would separate them from the usual cookie-cutter assignments.
About the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and was on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He has been a key player on Olympic marketing programs and also has worked at high-level positions directly for Olympic organizations. During his political agency days, he worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com