Donald Trump’s victory in the US elections has shocked many people and there probably isn’t a group of people who are more shocked than the PR/Comms community.
According to a recent article in PR Week, nearly two-thirds of PR professionals expected Hilary Clinton to win a landslide victory in the presidential race.
The keyword here is “expected” – this article is definitely not about PR/Comms professionals’ personal political opinions or the right or wrongs with any political argument. It’s about understanding our understanding of what the wider general public believe in and want.
PRs and pollsters have to ask, why do we get it wrong?
There are of course many comparisons here with Brexit with the vocal majority of PR and Comms professionals backing the losing side.
The demographics of the PR industry (young, female, educated, metropolitan, etc.) all point to a more liberal view of politics and the world. I have to wonder if this, some would argue “charmed” position, puts many PR pros at a disadvantage when trying to shape the opinion of the wider public.
As PR pros, we are all focused on the everyday conversation across traditional and social media channels but how tuned in are we to conversations beyond this space?
If we are to continue to shape opinion and remember, many “disaffected” voters view the media and PR industries with a huge degree of cynicism and mistrust, we need to get more granular and learn more about what the man on the street (who doesn’t post his every political thought to the social web or even read the newspapers beyond the sports pages) wants from life (whether we agree with it or not).
Is it time to leave our Ivory towers and start engaging beyond our traditional realms of influence.
We might not always like the outcome of political events – but isn’t it time we had a better understanding of what influences certain political events and wider life in general?