The Election Ends With a Victory for PR

Kenneth Wisnefski

As the polls closed on Nov. 6 and Barack Obama was announced the winner of the 2012 presidential Election, those in the public relations industry saw a definite opportunity to build upon one of the largest events in America this year.

While both candidates consistently used traditional public relations strategies and online PR initiatives throughout their respective campaigns, the days following the election will prove to be even more valuable to not only Obama and Romney’s PR teams, but the industry as a whole.

The 2012 campaign cost more than $2 billion for the Democrats and Republicans combined, making it the most expensive race to the White House in American history. A significant percentage of that budget was allotted to the public relations components within the campaigns. Additionally, with the heavy emphasis placed on social media and other digital platforms in the months leading up to Election Day, online news and media sites were able to fully capitalize on social trends which pertained to the candidates.

The role of online PR was particularly important for both Romney and Obama this year, as one of the primary focal points of their campaigns was enhancing their reach and visibility on the Web. Both candidates’ public relations teams clearly put forth their best efforts going into this year’s election and their work further validated the importance of a strong PR presence in the political arena.

Romney and Obama arguably achieved the most online visibility of any presidential candidates to date, throughout both major news websites and social networks. In fact, the prominence of social media in both campaigns allowed for even greater PR reach for the candidates; as press releases and media hits were extensively promoted throughout popular networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

The day after the election may prove to be the busiest day of the year for both Romney and Obama’s PR teams, as they will begin their post-election initiatives. President Obama will indefinitely remain in the media spotlight for the next four years; Governor Romney will need to retain a strong public relations presence in order to retain his current social relevancy going forward.

The election itself will continue to make headlines, both on and offline, even on an international level for weeks to come. Thousands of news and PR outlets around the world will be able to leverage the news and provide their own unique insights on the candidates, the campaign and other pressing issues.

While President Obama’s win last night was a major victory for the Democratic Party, the media buzz surrounding the election itself is an almost equally important victory for those in the PR industry.

Kenneth Wisnefski
is an online marketing expert and founder and chief executive of WebiMax, an online marketing agency in Mount Laurel, N.J. You can follow him on Twitter @KenWisnefski.


Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' PR Measurement Conference


Join us on April 20, 2015, for PR News’ essential PR Measurement Conference at the National Press Club in D.C., and learn how tie PR metrics to measurable business outcomes.

Use code “150off” at checkout to save $150 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Book of Employee Communications


In this 5th volume of PR News’ Book of Employee Communications, our authors cover more than 45 articles on crisis communications, social media policies, human resources collaboration, brand evangelism and more.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription


Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

  • Steven Spenser

    I doubt the campaigns’ news releases swayed many voters at all. Committed Democrats and Republicans didn’t need to be reached online because they were going to vote no matter what the campaigns put out or did. Undecided voters were the key constituency to reach, and they probably were more influenced by their peers and friends–and by events, such as Sandy–than by campaign propaganda. I suspect advertising was the major factor in the contest, not PR.

  • David Rosen

    It’s hard to make out exactly what you are trying to say. I think you’re saying web and social media made the difference. I don’t think so. I’m inclined to agree with Steven. Major events like Sandy, the televised debates and television ads are what mattered most, not PR.

    Also, total spending by the two campaigns is reported to have been $6 biilion, not $2 billion.

  • Bruce Theodore

    Actually Steven, I disagree. Both Romney and Obama suffered from missteps in their campaigns (such as controversies surrounding their debates and Romney’s “flip flopping” on important issues) and their PR teams did do a great job in keeping the candidates’ reputations on track throughout the campaign and responded to criticisms from both the public and press. I agree with the author… PR did play a big part in this election.