Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address takes place tomorrow, and with it comes a yearly tradition in the political advocacy world: SOTU rapid response. As I wrote a couple of years ago,
For political communicators, this is a special time of year…one in which we get to earn our keep. Now that the internet has shrunk our rapid response cycles from hours to seconds, advocates use a big public event like this (and the #SOTU hashtag associated with it) to reach activists, journalists, bloggers and other influencers with messages designed to shape the online commentary around their particular issues.
One challenge? Getting noticed in the clutter — millions of Tweets and other messages will flash across the ‘net, pushing any organization’s memes, quips, stats and quotes toward virtual oblivion in seconds. Another challenge: coming up with relevant content on the fly, so that you can post fast enough to catch the conversation.
To cut through that clutter, some advocates will have prepared long in advance, banking content and solidifying relationships with people who can help share it. Data can play a role, both in making your case and in identifying good voices to amplify it.
This year’s action takes place as Facebook emphasizes content from friends and family, threatening to cut off many advocacy groups’ connections to their social communities. To reach News Feeds, look for some groups to organize social media response teams recruited from among their supporters. Others will have their Facebook (and Twitter) ad accounts on a hair trigger, ready to draw attention to whatever hooks the speech provides.
Will it make a difference? No story seems to stay on the front page for long these days (welcome to the Trump era!), so the best most of us can hope for is a brief burst of attention to our issues. Still, we can never predict what will catch fire, so keep that kindling close at hand.