Obama, Romney and the Truth

I find it ironic and befitting that I am writing a response to this http://www.sensibleemarketing.com/2012/02/e-marketing-and-politics-how-true-is.html post on the day after the historical 2012 Presidential Elections. This election, as well as most others before and those to come, saw lots of campaigning and lots of advertising – most of it negative – from both the Republican and Democratic parties. What I find astounding is that this election and campaign spent well over $2 billion dollars in advertising. That is an insane and unprecedented sum (side note: I believe this money could have been put to way better use)!

This election did invest a great deal of money on online advertising. Check out this article on the online advertising for this campaign: http://www.adotas.com/2012/11/the-dazzling-presidential-election-display-advertising-duel/. President Obama’s display ads were all over the web and although the number of Mitt Romney ads lagged behind Obama’s, he was still very active online as well. Both candidates had active Facebook and Twitter feeds, something very much necessary for someone running for office. What I find most interesting about this is how PR and advertising both come together to properly market each candidate. So much work goes into researching the target audience and truly getting the message out to the right ears, whether it be at rallies or through the web. I must say, working on a campaign of this scale must be truly exhilarating. I think this election was groundbreaking in the use of online ads and it’s interesting to see how things will change for the 2016 elections, as technology is always evolving.

I believe the Internet is a wonderful source that helps disseminate information. You can find Leftist articles, as well as überconservative articles with just a mouse click. The media is at our disposal and the average American is very capable of finding information and educating themselves about the candidates for office.

Twitter is very fast and powerful news source, with people posting news about candidates at incredible speeds. Last night, the system peaked at 327,452 tweets per minute (more about that: http://allthingsd.com/20121107/on-election-day-2012-twitter-kills-the-great-white-fail-whale/?refcat=news). My timeline was flushed with Obama supporters gushing in excitement and upset Romney advocates expressing their sadness. The news almost seems to come via social media, it’s not even necessary to be on cnn.com or watching NBC to be updated. I love it when I see young people being politically active and showing that we care and matter in politics.

RNC and DNC speeches, as well as debates are now watched live – either on a television screen or from a laptop or tablet. We have come a long way from the days of having to read the speech in the newspaper or having to be physically present. Now, we can read about the speech two minutes after it was said and receive live updates from (almost) any location in the world. We have the resources to educate ourselves and be involved with our nation’s history.

I still don’t think politics will invade rapidly growing sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest. I believe each party will stick to mainstream media advertising for now, but it doesn’t mean that these websites are immune to the political fever. Many memes, Instagram pictures and blogs exist about each individual candidate (did anyone miss the “Binders Full of Women” memes?!). However, the candidates have bigger fish to fry and I don’t see them setting up personal Tumblr and Pinterest accounts, even though their media camps might.

As for online truth, I think it’s important to take everything with a grain of salt. For the most part, I trust reputable news sources to disseminate accurate information and I do believe that incorrect information can and will be corrected and counter-argued, especially if it appears on a known source. During the presidential debates, almost everything each candidate said was fact-checked and I saw tons of articles commenting on the fallacies of each candidate in the aftermath of the debates. Blogs and other websites may not have the filters and fact checking devices that television networks provide, but that’s why you shouldn’t believe everything that you read and it’s important to gather news from different outlets.

It is oftentimes said that the mainstream media leans towards the Left, but there are also outlets like Fox News that are right-winged. Whether or not that it is true that there is a leftist spin on media, it is up to us to educate ourselves about everything and remain open-minded. You can belong to a particular party, but can still individually reason and avoid extremes.

Extra care should be taken with user-generated content. This content may appear very real and “legit” but is not necessarily true. People should focus on facts, political record and research. People can lie and spin information, but numbers and official documents don’t lie. As for separating the truth from the lies, it’s difficult but that’s where the individual comes in and must do their part to research. This article refers to Hurricane Sandy, but it provides an interesting look at how to separate the truth from the lies on Twitter: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-31/how-truth-and-lies-spread-on-twitter.

I, for one, am glad I no longer have to watch annoying political YouTube commercials when I am watching music videos or clips; but I truly appreciate all the hard work that goes into campaigning and am excited to see how technology evolves in the upcoming years. In the meantime, try to stay truthful!

Interesting link on the $2 billion spent on advertising: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/latest/Election-2012–the-2-billion-campaign-177405711.html.

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