A Quick Guide to #SOTU Social Media & Rapid Response

State of the Union rapid response

It’s the State of the Union, huzzah! 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 compete in the online spin war, you really need two things: preparation and trust.


Prepare as much content in advance as you can, including approved text, Tweets, links to supporting materials, infographics, photos, supporter quotes and anything else you can think of. Run it up the flagpole at your organization as early as possible to make sure that your messaging hits the mark. If you’re emailing your Executive Director or campaign manager to approve Tweets halfway into the speech, you’re missing the mark. For inspiration, check out how commercial brands prepare for big public moments like the Super Bowl. Also note: if you have a Hillary-style Twitter posse, arm them with content in advance, too.


Prepare your staff or volunteers to be ready to rock tonight. Be sure the big bosses are on the list! They’ll need to be comfortable with the idea that rapid response content can’t go through normal approval channels. A Facebook post that languishes for a week waiting for sign-off isn’t rapid…or by that point, response. If you’re trying to catch a wave of public attention, trust is the magic word. I’m a big fan of the “war room” approach, BTW. If the stakeholders and worker bees are around the same table, they can brainstorm and approve ideas on the run.

For more, check out these great resources from our regular contributors Jeanette Russell and Laura Packard:

And tonight, have fun! Bring beer.


Written by
Colin Delany
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