Thursday, March 13, 2008

Presidential Campaigns Show Businesses How to Tap Social Networking and New Media Tactics: Deloitte

13 Mar 2008 15:57 Africa/Lagos

Presidential Campaigns Show Businesses How to Tap Social Networking and New Media Tactics: Deloitte

NEW YORK, March 13 /PRNewswire/ --

The 2008 presidential campaign serves as the harbinger of change in marketing strategies and the use of new media, as well as understanding how social networking can be adapted for building, marketing and in some cases, defending a brand, according to a new paper from Deloitte Consulting LLP. While businesses may sometimes be ahead of politicians in using new media, the velocity of the presidential campaigns forces politicians into much more aggressive experimentation and adoption.

"Businesses are well advised to keep a keen eye on effective and ineffective uses of new media by the campaigns, in particular as a response tool to attacks," said Deloitte Consulting's David Smith, a co-author of the paper, "New Media and the 2008 Campaign Season - Valuable Lessons for Business about being First, Fast and Nimble." "From John F. Kennedy's use of TV to Ronald Reagan's use of telemarketing to Howard Dean's use of the Internet, history offers an abundance of examples. This year's presidential campaigns are no exception. Candidates are being marketed as new products and campaign managers are rapidly adopting and adapting the latest communications techniques to promote and protect their candidate's personal brand advantage. The pace is furious."

"What's driving all this? We're entering a new age -- a time of collaborative, de-centralized brand management," said Deloitte Consulting's Rob Underwood, a co-author of the paper. "It used to be that campaigns could create a candidate with a set of position papers and carefully wrought advertisements. That model has changed. Candidates and companies now appear to have entered a more radical phase where brand -- their most guarded and valuable asset -- has become part of the public domain. Average citizens with access to a blog or Facebook now view themselves as stakeholders in brands -- whether that brand is Barak Obama or Apple. Resistance to this change may be futile."

Underwood noted that this makes both candidates and companies vulnerable from many sides. Assessing threats, both on- and off-line, is crucial. Even those blogs and sites that are considered "friendly" may twist your message in unwanted ways and negatively affect your brand. Corporate business leaders should evaluate what techniques prove effective in keeping affiliates on- message. One set of relationships in particular to watch, especially as we move through the primary election to the general, is how candidates work with their respective influencer sites at more extreme ends of their political wings.

"Defending your brand on your feet, establishing an emotional connection online and preparing for brand attacks show that Campaign 2008 offers businesses important live case study results that should be considered right now before the lessons and techniques become commonplace," said Smith.

Smith and Underwood offer the following insights for companies to consider based on the campaign to date:

-- You've lost control of the message. Your carefully crafted commercials,
news releases, and websites are fair game for revisionists. Engage
these new media influencers by categorizing their blogs, social
networking sites and chat rooms as advocates, neutrals or hostiles.
Nurture advocates with useful information while taking action to move
neutrals in a positive direction. Consider creating your own
revisionist acts. Creativity counts and can win points.

-- For better or worse, YouTube is egalitarian. No matter how much you
spend on production, there's no guarantee your YouTube ad will be any
more popular than other videos that address your brand. Slick and
professional are not the hallmark of most popular YouTube videos.
Before using YouTube as an advertising medium directly, consider if
someone else is already doing a more effective and catchy job already.

-- Facebook provides many plausible functions for markets, none of which
is clearly dominant yet. Facebook recently announced that it
strategically wants to be viewed as an application platform, not just a
social networking site. While all of the campaigns have created a basic
Facebook presence -- not all that different from creating a simple web
page or MySpace site, it's expected that some campaigns will build
custom applications to extend functionality, likely to build networks
and mobilize communities. Facebook has also rolled out advertising
functionality that allows precision in the types of ads targeted to
specific segments.

-- Brand terrorism may be right around the corner. For many businesses it
is not a matter of whether, but a matter of when. Consider your
vulnerabilities now. Re-think and update your crisis management plan
quarterly. Identify the required participants and how they will be
contacted in an emergency. Include a plan for how to leverage partners
and affiliates in your response. Regardless of attack source -- new
media or old, new media will be part of the response. Think "Swift
Boats" on steroids.

-- Not responding is no longer an option. Attacks cannot be ignored. From
Dukakis' response to "Willy Horton" to John Kerry's delayed counter-
attack from "Swift Boats," the campaigns have shown what happens when
they are either slow to respond or fail to retaliate at all -- the
attacker wins the day. New media such as social networking and blogs
have greatly expanded the sources of threats and the speed at which
attacks spread.

-- Your media plan may need shredding. Picture yourself watching an online
video of your passengers stranded on a tarmac or your CEO portrayed as
Big Brother on YouTube. Create a media plan with an appropriate blend
of traditional and new media, and then build in flexibility so you can
scrap it and shift spending as needed. Remember that brand damaging
information moves faster than good news.

-- Your organizational structure may be an impediment. Upend a monolithic
marketing organization and replace it with smaller units to enhance
market-sensing capabilities and nurture instincts. Create the ability
to act and react faster. Re-define the notion of "smart hires" based on
the new structure, and build teams that balance mature experience with
youthful new-media instincts to achieve depth and significantly improve

To view a full copy of the paper, please go to

About Deloitte

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte Consulting, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.

John La Place Dan Bingham
Public Relations Hill & Knowlton, Inc.
Deloitte +1 212-885-0510
+1 212-492-4267

Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP

CONTACT: John La Place, Public Relations, Deloitte, +1-212-492-4267,; Dan Bingham, Hill & Knowlton, Inc., +1-212-885-0510,

Web site:

NOTE TO EDITORS: To speak with Smith and Underwood on related issues, please contact John La Place at +1 212-492-4267, or, or Dan Bingham at +1 212-885-0510, or

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