By Gabrielle Woodard
It’s a Marathon not a Sprint: Political PR session at National Conference was lead by Christopher Harvin of Sanitas International. Sanitas International is a Political PR consulting firm out of Washington, D.C.
Harvin was a member of PRSSA when he was in college and remembered being in the audience’s shoes 20 years ago when he attended PRSSA National Conference in Seattle. This gave the audience some reference for where they could be 20 years from now.
One of the main focuses of this session was how public relations impacts campaigns. Harvins’ first example was of current President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign tactic of using YouTube. Harvin pointed out that is reached Obama’s targeted audience of younger voters and used a free service with low cost production. Harvin used the statistic that thirty percent of America saw Obama’s videos on YouTube, very little paid media could have that kind of length.
In comparison, Harvin said that this year’s Election is all about media exposure. Trump is making the news and getting the exposure, unlike a lot of the candidates. The Internet has made a huge difference in recent elections, there is now online fact checking and everything is public knowledge. Ben Carson has been “attacking the media” but the “practitioner needs the media as much as the media needs the practitioner,” said Harvin. Harvin said that this year’s election has been all about getting the public and the media’s attention, Trump and other candidates have been using the method of, “if they’re talking, no one else is being heard,” said Harvin. Harvin explained that while he had worked for Republican presidents before, he was not involved in this year’s election he wasn’t satisfied with any of the candidates, “it would be very hard to work for someone I didn’t support,” said Harvin.
After the discussion of the current election, someone in the audience asked a very thoughtful question, “ how can I stay involved with political PR, but I don’t like any of the current candidates?” Harvin, being in the same situation recommended others follow in his footsteps, “stay issues focused,” said Havin. He went on to explain that while issues can still have partisan influence, it allows one to stay about the fray and being associated with a candidate they don’t 100% agree with.
Harvin said that political communication is like “a chess match, it is all a game.”