November Luncheon: The PR of Politics

By: Kelly Schwantes
Communications Intern, Department of Business and Professional Regulation
& FPRA Student Chapter Member 

This month, the FPRA Capital Chapter hosted “The PR of Politics” to give a post-election wrap-up with Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore, hosts of North Florida’s and South Georgia’s premier political talk program, “The Usual Suspects.”

Gary Yordon has served as a public official for 12 years and since then, he has directed the campaigns of more than 175 local, state and federal candidates. Steve Vancore is the President of Vancore-Jones Communications, which was the recipient of the 2007 “Dick Pope All Florida” Golden Image Award given by the Florida Public Relations Association.

Mr. Yordon and Mr. Vancore touched on several topics regarding the recent political campaigns, both agreeing that public relations is more similar to politics than we may think. A PR campaign and a political campaign have similar components – goals, objectives, tactics and more specifically, a target audience.

Here are a few highlights of the discussion:

Don’t be afraid to let go. Be okay with eliminating a segment of the market that you know you will never be able to obtain. It may be a difficult conversation to have with a client, but you must remind them that it isn’t feasible or cost-efficient to market to the entire universe.

Seek opportunities. Spend your valuable resources on trying to capture the segment of the market that you have an opportunity to gain as a consumer, voter etc.

Less can be more. You can have successful campaigns even if you have less money than your competitor. What is important is what you do with this money and how efficient you can be.

Tell a story.  A PR campaign must be part of a narrative, and the story should work in conjunction with paid media. Once you define your narrative, never leave it no matter what. Mr. Vancore attributed President Obama’s success in the 2012 election in part to his campaign’s consistent narrative about Mitt Romney.

Go outside your bubble. To be successful in a political campaign, you must leave your comfort zone and neighborhood to reach the constituents in your target audience. In order to reach the audience you’ve selected for a PR campaign, you should go outside the box and develop message strategies to reach them.

The PR for Politics meeting was my first encounter with a Capital Chapter meeting, and I am confident in saying that I will be returning each month.  It was an amazing experience to connect with professionals across the Tallahassee area and to witness the true friendships formed within this organization.