Interactivity and Branding, public political communication as a marketing tool.

Lilleker, D. and Jackson, N., 2010. Interactivity and Branding, public political communication as a marketing tool. In: Political Studies Association (PSA) Conference: Sixty Years of Political Studies: Achievements and Futures, 29 March-1April 2010, Edinburgh University, Scotland. (In Press)

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Official URL: http://www.psa.ac.uk/2010/forms/Programme2010.pdf

Abstract

Effective communication is essential for brands to gain awareness, interest and loyalty from their consumers; the same is as true for politics as for any manufacturer or service provider. The challenge for political parties and candidates seeking support or election is finding the means to transmit their messages to an increasingly hard to reach audience. The consumer within a political context may avoid hard news or broadcast political debate, discard any direct mail received and, when receiving glimpses of political communication, simple reject any political messages as spin and propaganda. In order that brand values are accepted and understood and accepted effective, unmediated communication is crucial and increasingly political communication strategists are turning to the Internet which can not only enable the reaching of a wider audience but can also complement and augment the brand character. As new technologies are adopted, new modes of communication are also introduced. While a website can act as a shop front from which parties or candidates can advertise their policies and personnel, the style of the site (design, language and features) can act as metaphors for the professionalism and style of representation offered. To appear modern parties are increasingly adopting Web 2.0 tools, platforms and features. These all permit, to differing degrees, users to interact with parties and candidates and have conversations across online platforms. This interactivity can, if used strategically, be used as a tool for branding a party or candidate given that the uses of such tools can be metaphors for openness, accessibility and the representational character that may be provided post election. We explore this issue drawing on original empirical data gathered through analyses of online activities during the French and US presidential contests of 2007 and 2008 and of UK parties and MPs during 2008 and 2009. Through a process of creating narratives for each of the brands analysed, based upon a content and discourse analysis of the websites and other online presences, we identify what characteristics the online shop front is designed to project. These narratives, cumulatively, suggest that the online environment is becoming a key communicational tool for those who seek election, and potentially a key source of information for the voter; thus an important location to place strategic branded information. However it appears that interactivity is better suited to the activities of candidates, nationally or locally, due to the individualistic nature of conversational interactivity. Interactivity can thus have a significant role to play within a presidential contest where the individual is seeking office, but when representatives attempt to construct their individual brand it can also challenge traditional hierarchies within party based parliamentary systems such as the UK.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects:Social Sciences > Communication, Cultural and Media Studies
Social Sciences > Politics
Group:Media School
ID Code:15074
Deposited By:Dr Darren Lilleker
Deposited On:08 Jun 2010 19:52
Last Modified:14 Jan 2014 11:27

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