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In public relations, political communication is called ‘public affairs.’

And as with every dimension of business and society, your local politicians must adapt to a digital first world, too. The internet is where most of our opinions are being moulded, debated, and spread throughout the voting population. However, as we all transition into the digital age, the big question here is:

Are your local politicians keeping up with the times?

14 Characteristics of Digital First Politicians

1. The digital politician is brave enough to speak plainly online.

Most politicians are comfortable with speaking at stages, seminars, and in meetings. But most politicians are scared of just putting up their smartphone in a taxi and speak their hearts out via Facebook Live — Gary Vaynerchuck-style.

2. The digital politician conveys her message with authentic passion.

Most politicians are comfortable with turning up the heat when facing an opponent in a debate. But most politicians find it difficult to authentically convey that same passion in a Youtube- or Snapchat video.

3. The digital politician has a growing email list of her own.

Most politicians strive to appear in contexts where they can reach relevant audiences. But most politicians are neglecting the sheer power of email marketing.

4. The digital politician is always battling a chosen stupid majority.

Most politicians are looking for ways to engage the public by speaking to issues defined by the mass media. But most politicians fail to realise that online engagement stems from smart minorities taking on stupid majorities.

5. The digital politician cultivates her unique social voice.

Most politicians are using social media as a broadcast medium for generic political content. But most politicians have yet to realise that online followers, whether on Instagram or Twitter, are actively seeking unique voices and tonalities.

6. The digital politician is plugged into backchannels for support and discussion.

Most politicians take to online communication to raise awareness and seek support for their agenda. But most politicians would be far more successful if they first discussed and ensured support for their messages in smaller forums and backchannels.

7. The digital politician engages in respectful two-way communication.

Most politicians don’t want the hassle of speaking directly with insignificant people in social media. But most politicians don’t fully understand the online equivalent of connecting with ‘regular folks’ in the streets, listening to their stories, and shaking their hands.

8. The digital politician puts out useful and actionable content.

Most politicians are leveraging online communication to cross-promote their existing messages. But most politicians don’t seem to care that putting out mediocre online content is disrespectful (and a breach of the follower contract) when actionable content is proven to be much more powerful.

9. The digital politician nurtures a multi-platform personal brand.

Most politicians think that the choice of channel is their own prerogative. But most politicians should be mindful of their surround message and embrace the fact that the audience flows freely across online channels — and so should their personal brand.

10. The digital politician promotes a multimedia experience.

Most politicians treat online communication as a traditional medium like any other. But most politicians should leverage the internet to convey the sound of their laughter, the tone of their empathy, and the idiosyncrasies of how their bodies move.

11. The digital politician prioritises her own tribe first.

Most politicians think the internet is a great way to reach new audiences. But most politicians would get better results if they focused almost entirely on communicating efficiently with their already existing tribe.

12. The digital politician always zigs when others zag.

Most politicians are looking at what other politicians are doing online when developing their own strategies. But most politicians would do far better online if they instead focused on doing the opposite of whatever others are doing.

13. The digital politician is thankful for every single reason to speak.

Most politicians are afraid of internet trolls, internet hate, and being heavily criticised in general. But most politicians should be thankful and use any blowback or critique as reasons to speak on behalf of her own agenda.

14. The digital politician is all about call-to-actions and online leadership.

Most politicians are happy if they get airtime in traditional media. But most politicians should instead focus on providing their online following with relevant call-to-actions aimed at those who care enough to take action.

Do you agree that today’s politicians must live and breathe digital first? Please share and discuss in the comments.

A playbook for modern politicians aiming for “digital first”.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash.