The most important election of our lifetimes (and some say, since 1908), is now less than 2 weeks away. And, if early voting trends continue, this could be the biggest voter turnout of our lives, too. As we’ve seen for the last few years, brands are increasingly getting involved in societal issues–racial injustics, climate change and women’s rights, just to name a few.
Now, brands are increasingly also getting involved in pushing out another important message: voting.
And, it’s certainly not too late for brands to get involved.
Historically, brands haven’t been all that involved in the “get out the vote” message. Sure, brands like MTV have ran campaigns like this in the past (I distinctly remember Kurt Loder on MTV News talking about this back in the late 80s). But, over the last 20 years? Not so much.
However, new research (like this Morning Consult report) show that brands stand to benefit by doing just that. The report claims that 29% of Americans are more apt to purchase from companies who are involved in get out the vote efforts. And, among Democrats, that number is much higher (45%).
So, there’s definitely a business reason for some brands to get involved with voting efforts. Which is why you’re starting to see so many brands taking this on.
Upon closer review, what’s interesting is that the “Get out the Vote” messaging IS prevalent–but, predominantly among one sector of the business world: Retail. Specifically, fashion brands.
And, those messages are more likely to be shared on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram vs. LinkedIn (which I found interesting).
Here’s a look at how some of the more forward-thinking brands in the U.S. are tackling this issue this fall.
Levi’s has been at the forefront of the voting push for years. In fact, I’d say they might have been the first brand that was out there making this push years ago. Nowadays, they’ve linked up voting efforts to #climatechange initiatives.
Like many fashion brands, AE features their voting apparel in their Insta posts. But, the tag 5 friends approach was something I didn’t see from other brands.
One other trend I noticed: Brands partnering with political groups like BR is doing here with “Rock the Vote.” Smart move. And, it also allows them to add a philanthopic piece to this with the money they’re donating.
Leave it to Chipotle to come up with a clever way to enter the voting issue space. These t-shirts with a scannable QR code represent a very different way for them to play on this issue.
Like I said, I didn’t see a ton of big companies sharing messages about getting out the vote. In fact, Amazon stood alone (so far) among the bigger retailers. And, much like BR, they’re partnering with a political group (TurboVote.org) to get more people involved.
Easily the strongest stand of any brand I found online. Eileen Fisher was the only one to come out and fully endorse a candidate. Thought it was worth highlighting. Start of a new trend? Time will tell.
Instead of a garden-variety social post, Patagonia took it to the next level and created a Facebook Live event featuring one of its folks and a rep from the League of Conservation Voters. Great way to add more depth to an important conversation.
Like many brands featured here, Live Nation played off National Voter Registration Day in Sept. to highlight its efforts. And again, directing people to headcount.org. Also important to note: Featuring (what I’m guessing are) employees with masks on in visuals. Making a statement without even saying anything.
A bit of a roundabout way to the goal here from Unilever. But, smartly taking a topic the organization has clearly put weight behind (hunger) and tying it to voting. Another potential trend I bet we’ll see more of in the weeks (and years) ahead. A much easier entree for most companies into this space.
Much like many of you, I was recently looking for a new show to stream. I had just finished The Mandalorian (which I liked, but didn’t love). And, given the political climate and the fact that we’re facing a pretty rough winter, I wanted something a bit lighter.
Enter Ted Lasso.
I had heard many friends talking about this show, including a number of people saying it is one of the best written shows on TV. I’m not a huge Jason Sudeikis fan, but one episode was worth a shot, I thought.
I was instantly hooked. Not only is the writing fantastic, but I absolutely loved the character development. In fact, there were very few characters I didn’t like. From the sexy (and kind-hearted) Keeley Jones to the rough and angry Roy Kent to (my favorite) Coach Beard, there’s a list of characters you will become quickly attached to.
But, none more so than Coach Ted.
And, as I binge-watched the 10 episodes in a few days I found myself thinking: Not only is Ted Lasso an outstanding coach (even though his team is relegated from Premier League play), he’s an even better leader.
In fact, he’s the boss we would all love to work for.
Five big reasons why:
#1: He has your back.
Boy, does he have your back. Look no further than my favorite scene in the show (so far)–when Ted challenges ex-husband Rupert to a game of darts in the local pub to defend the honor of his boss, Rebecca.
One complaint many of us have of our bosses is that they frequently don’t have our backs. They don’t defend us when we’re attacked in a meeting. They don’t come to our rescue when we’re sinking in work. Ted not only is quick to defend his players–he’s equally as quick to defend his boss. Who, by the way, if you watch the show, isn’t exactly the biggest proponent of Ted Lasso in the early episodes.
#2: His first priority is relationships–not results
He even says this out loud multiple times throughout season one. The press quotes him as saying “I don’t care about wins and losses” at one point. You can tell right away Ted Lasso is all about relationships. Case in point: He starts the year by bringing his boss (the aforementioned Rebecca) these little cookies in a small pink box each morning. He does it because it gives him a chance to visit his boss every morning. To ask her a question. To see what she’s up to first-thing. To build a relationship. And (spoiler alert): it works. Early in the season, one of his players, Sam, seems a bit down in the dumps. Ted discoveres his birthday is coming up and arranges a surprise party for Sam. Again, relationships > results. Shouldn’t our bosses operate the same way? Shouldn’t they prioritize relationships with us over corporate results? I know results matter. And, we all want to achieve. But, when we’re all gone, what’s the one thing that matters most? You guessed it.
#3: He supports the whole team
Even the ball boys. In fact, one of the first people Ted tried to develop a relationship with on the team is Nate (the ball boy/equipment guy). The relationship develops so quickly, in fact, that he ends up becoming a “Diamond Dog” (I won’t ruin that surprise!) and offers him an assistant coaching position. There’s a great scene where Ted supports Nate and encourages him to read this note to the team before a huge game.
But, Ted is there in many different ways for his players, too. Offering dating advice to Roy Kent. Offering life advice to his former superstar Jamie Tartt. He supports many different players over the course of the season–just like a good boss should.
#4: He’s vulnerable
So many scenes where this plays out, but none more powerful than this halftime speech after superstar Jamie Tartt walks out of the locker room.
In the speech, he opens up about his impending divorce. He makes the “save” as coach Beard quietly says, but he’s showing extreme vulnerability there. We need our leaders to do this more often–especially in today’s day when bravado is often applauded instead. Whether most people know it or not, they want vulnerability from their leaders. Not to the point of crying at work every day. But, a moment here and there goes a long ways toward making our leaders more human. And, that’s exactly how Ted comes off time and time again in the series.
#5: He doesn’t surround himself with “yes” people
This is a classic leadership trait. We all know leaders who surround themselves with “yes” people. A certain POTUS comes to mind! However, Ted Lasso certainly doesn’t not take that approach. This scene with Coach Beard says it all.
Coach Beard (and Nate in some cases) challenge Lasso at different points in the show. And, Lasso listens and acts based on that information. Sometimes, as in the scene above, it takes a stern follow-up, but he listens and acts. We want to work for leaders like this. Leaders who don’t just want us to tell them how great they are. Leaders who don’t want us to kiss their ass 24/7. We want to work for leaders who WANT challenges. That don’t always have to be right.
We all would be so lucky to work for a person like Ted Lasso.
There’s little doubt: Next month’s election is the most important in most of our lives. Now, I don’t usually talk politics on this blog (or on social, for that matter). But, given the gravity of the situation, I’ve decided to table that approach for the next few months (heck, I tabled it a number of months ago, actually). Some things are just too important.
Now, I don’t consider myself a card-carrying Democrat. Fact is, I’ve voted for people on both sides of the aisle the last 30 years. I would say I lean left socially and lean right fiscally. But, in this year’s election, I’ll be voting for former Vice President Joe Biden. As we stand here, fewer than 30 days away from the election, that outcome is hardly a slam dunk. After all, we’ve seen this movie before four years ago!
Because many of us do not want to see this scenario play out again, we’re watching what the Democrats are doing very closely when it comes to campaign strategy and messaging. In fact, I’ve been analyzing Biden’s social media strategy for a while now. And, I know I’m not the only one. Content marketing expert, Kristina Halvorson tweeted this a couple weeks ago.
Does anyone know who’s doing Biden’s Twitter, I would like a word.
— Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson) September 19, 2020
So, since we love to play armchair quarterback when it comes to political messaging and strategy, I thought I’d ask some of my more politically astute friends a simple question: What would you do if you were running Joe Biden’s communications campaign this fall?
Andy Jacobson, senior director-advertising and media relations, Trustmark
I’ve been a political junkie for more than half my adult life and what always has fascinated me is how in-the-moment the process is, especially in our current surreal, turbo-charged environment. A brilliant strategy on Monday might be completely scrapped by Tuesday; a week’s news cycle seems like a month. But, with all that said, if I was leading Biden’s communications strategy, I’d take a steady-as-she-goes, let’s-all-stay calm approach. Act like you’re the incumbent; be presidential in words and actions.
I believe this strategy plays to Biden’s strengths and actually embraces, rather than papers over his vulnerabilities. Biden is considered part of the Establishment but, given where we are as a country, I don’t believe this is a bad thing. I of course would never use the word “Establishment” in my messaging for Vice President Biden but include phrasing like “reasoned,” “vetted, and “collaborative,” to offset the typically reactive, unfounded and go-it alone Trump campaign messaging. I believe this strategy also helps Biden run out the clock because let’s be honest, most of us, political junkie or not, can’t wait for this Presidential campaign to be over.
Stephen Dupont, vice president, public relations and branded content, Pocket Hercules
The Joe Biden brand stands for “do the right thing.” To distinguish himself from Trump, he needs to keep doing what he’s doing: Be Presidential. He doesn’t need to say “I told you so.” in light of Trump’s Covid 19 diagnosis. It’s now clear that if the president of the U.S. can get Covid 19, anyone can. And he acted with class (along with Obama) in wishing Trump and his spouse a speedy recovery. What our country desperately wants and needs at this moment is stable, reasoned leadership. People are tired of the chaos. Biden should focus on delivering that, and doing so by communicating directly, with empathy to Americans. Biden was most effective in the last debate, when he looked directly into the camera and spoke to us, the people, especially when he shared how proud he was of his son overcoming his drug problem (there are many Americans who can relate to that). That’s what he should keep doing. Trump is now a side show. Biden wins with his compassion for real working people.
One more thing: Biden should go get a flu shot and make it a big deal photo op — Americans need to get a flu shot as we head into the 2nd wave of Covid.
Jessica Olstad, Twin Cities PR veteran
Be as transparent as possible, especially when it comes to your team and any COVID positives. Trump is getting lambasted for potentially hiding the timing of his diagnosis and how others could be affected. If I was counseling Biden, I would advise him to be as up-front as possible on all things health matters. Just doing so will put him in a better light than “seemingly” trying to hide anything.
Stay the course. There are four weeks left in the election, so campaign like never before. Now that Trump is recovering well, according to his doctors, now is not the time to slow down. Keep running ads. Keep safely campaigning. Keep wearing the damn mask.
Stay away from “I told you so.” Just like when we were kids, saying this helps no one.
Keep it classy. Biden’s tweet wishing the president well was a good move. It wasn’t over-indulgent and, I thought, authentic. You don’t have to agree with him on anything to wish the President a speedy recovery and good health. Clearly others are not doing this (even Biden supporters), but Biden should not stoop to that level…nor should his team or members of his party.
Stay focused on your message. There’s no better time to do so. Straying from the message will dilute it right now.
Kim Insley, senior PR specialist, Digital River
Time is running short and while most people have made up their minds, there are still a few undecideds out there. In my mind, that translates into uncertainty about which, if any candidate would make a tangible difference in their lives. Worse yet, it might signal people who won’t vote at all. It’s up to the campaigns to make their case.
The president is now out of the hospital, so I would proceed with the ad campaign originally laid out for the Biden campaign. I would use this opportunity to talk about the importance of healthcare, and what people stand to lose if the ACA is overturned. Highlight what the Biden plan is to improve on the ACA.
I would talk about the differences in care between people who have the best of care vs little to no coverage, and what that means for COVID outcomes.
Because the president campaigns on a message of economic prosperity measured by the stock market, I would use that to highlight the differences between those who have and those who have not. Utilize those voices in business who see a danger in a bifurcated recovery – a continued widening between the high earners and the rest of the country. Most importantly, communicate clearly and in plain language what the Biden plan is to jump-start the economy for everyone. The Bill Clinton campaign famously said “it’s the economy, stupid.” It still is.
Liz Erickson Monson, senior communications manager, CH Robinson
If I were running Joe Biden’s comms campaign, I would focus on perception, while still keeping the campaign running the “right” way. I would increase spend on paid social to the right audience (swing and unregistered voters). Simultaneously, I would pivot to having his allies and perhaps even Kamala share the talking points that were on his docket, with a heavy emphasis on healthcare reform so we can all have the same care that President Trump received, as well as ways to get the economy back on its feet.
If we’re being honest, we know that this campaign was never about Joe Biden, it was always about Trump. The best way to win against Trump is to let his actions unfold as they will in the middle of a pandemic while having public “favorites” such as Barack and Michell Obama, AOC, Elizabeth Warren, celebrity influencers and others emphasize faults with the current presidency and how a democratic president can help turn things around.
Once President Trump tests negative for COVID-19, the communications should ramp back up, but only if it’s not too close to the VP debate—there needs to be space for Kamala to shine through as a strong speaker and influence. At this point, the allies of Joe and digital marketing are going to have the play a significant role in the presidential election for the next few weeks.
Glenn Karwoski, managing director, Karwoski & Courage
President Trump is mounting a massive campaign to get Joe Biden elected, and it’s very effective if you look at the latest polls. That’s not a typo, Trump is campaigning for Biden, albeit not intentionally.
There are several variations of the adage, when your opponent is digging a hole, hand him a shovel. In this case, the president’s increasingly erratic, even for him, behavior is the best communication for the Biden campaign, maybe even better than any of the confident, reassuring ads the Biden campaign is running.
We’ve all come to expect unpredictable things from this president, but his recent claims and behavior are doing more to help Biden’s campaign and hurt his own campaign.
Trump is doing a lot of Biden’s campaigning for him.
My advice for Biden; stay the course you’re on and let the president continue to shovel. With the heavy meds he’s on, 65 tweets today and counting, that hole is going to get very deep.
It was bound to happen. And, after they announced it earlier this year, it was due to happen.
LinkedIn recently unveiled “Stories” on its platform.
Let me summarize the reaction for a vast majority of LinkedIn users: UGH.
I know we’re only one week in, but my initial reaction can be summed up in that one word.
And, I’m hardly alone.
What’s more, think about who’s using Stories in your feed so far.
In my feed, it’s been national players like Carlos Gil and local folks who aren’t afraid of video like Jenna Redfield. Or, uber-promotional folks who have something to sell. I don’t think I’ve seen a single person who works for an agency or corporation post in Stories yet!
Again, I know it’s early. And, behaviors can change. But, my initial reactions can best be summed up this way–based on personal use and potential brand use down the road.
What audience are they playing to?
LinkedIn trends older. According to Pew Research, 35% of LinkedIn users are 50 and over. Add another 37% that are 30-49 year-olds. Who are typically the biggest users of Stories? The under 30 crowd. Miss #1. What’s more, LinkedIn trends male. 57% of LinkedIn users are male. So, LinkedIn trends to be an older, slightly male network. Does that sound like the demo of a group who wants to use Stories? More like the opposite.
People are already intimidated to post to LinkedIn.
I recently started doing more social media coaching (in fact, I unveiled a new service around this last month–more here, if you’re interested). A lot of that coaching, so far, has revolved around LinkedIn. And, one of the common themes I’m hearing is this: I’m hesitant to post. For lots of reasons (all valid). So, now you want a user base (most likely) full of people who are probably more hesitant to post to the FEED to create STORIES? Um, that’s not going to happen. No chance. In fact, I’m already hearing whispers of people saying they will never publish a story, personally.
Desktop vs. mobile usage
57% of LinkedIn traffic comes from mobile devices. That sounds pretty good until you think about the fact that 98% of Facebook’s traffic comes from mobile. And, the fact that roughly 4 in 10 people are still accessing LinkedIn from a desktop computer. What’s the issue with that, you say? Only this little tidbit: Stories aren’t available on the desktop version of LinkedIn (yet). Sure, they will probably add that eventually but for now, you can only publish Stories through your mobile device. A barrier for 40% of all LinkedIn users.
Do you have enough to say?
The beautiful part of Stories on Insta and Snap is it gives you the opportunity to publish stuff you wouldn’t normally publish in a more “permanent” feed. Throwaway stuff. The smaller snippets of your day. Which makes total sense on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. But, why would you do that on LinkedIn? Most people have a hard time coming up with 2-3 things a week (or month!) to say on LinkedIn let alone 3-5 things A DAY. Most people simply don’t have enough to say on LinkedIn to participate in Stories on a daily or weekly basis. I’m already seeing people running out of things to say on Stories on LinkedIn!
For starters, when will brands ever have access?
I haven’t seen much on this to date, but I’m guessing the plan is “soon.” My bet: They’re seeing how the rollout goes with humans first before rolling out to brands.
MORE CONTENT? You have got to be kidding me.
So, let me get this straight. You want under-resourced social media teams to come up with 5-10 new Stories per week for a single social media platform? Keep in mind, you can’t easily repurpose Stories from Instagram like you can on Facebook. This needs to be uniquely LinkedIn story content. I just don’t see already strapped social teams embracing that right now. And, probably not ever.
See #4 above–what are brands going to say?
Again, most brands have a tough time coming up with a couple things a week to say on LinkedIn. Now we’re asking them to come up with 5-10 Stories (and that might be on the light side) per week? Not happening–not for most brands. Their time and attention is better spent in other spots (like the feed!).
What would be the actual goal?
To increase engagement? According to reports, LinkedIn engagement is up 50% YoY, and that was back in March! Since then, COVID has forced even more people into LinkedIn power users. If your brand is on LinkedIn and your engagement numbers aren’t up in 2020, you’re probably doing something massively wrong. So, this is a long way of asking: how is engagement on LinkedIn a problem right now? Those levels should be way up in 2020. But, here comes LinkedIn with Stories telling you to use them to up your engagement levels (again, to be clear, brands do not have access to Stories yet–I’m just playing out a hypothetical). I’m just not seeing a big business case/metrics case here.
Video. We’ve heard about it ad naseum for the last 4-5 years in trend posts like this. So, video, it and of itself, is hardly a trend in 2020. Especially when it comes to platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
But, LinkedIn? That’s been a different story.
Historically, LinkedIn has been a platform heavily predicated on two forms of content: Text and photos. And, even the photo content hasn’t been all that strong or unique. But, during COVID, that’s all changed. Video has seen a big uptick in use. Not just on the personal side (I’ve noticed more people using LinkedIn Live video, in particular, during the pandemic), but also on the brand side.
Why? For starters, many of us are stuck at home and are craving connection–video on LinkedIn gets at that a bit. It’s why you’re seeing more videos from senior-level leaders at companies on LinkedIn.
Second, visuals (at least compelling visuals) are tougher to come by during COVID. So, brands are turning to video. This is why you’re seeing more Zoom-style videos in your feeds.
Finally, you could make an argument (and LinkedIn is supporting this) that the platform is prioritizing videos in the feed. So, produce more video and your content may be seen by more people, organically.
So yeah, we’re seeing more video in our LinkedIn feeds during the pandemic–and that’s why.
But, what companies are doing this well? Which organizations are using video strategically on LinkedIn to advance their goals–not just to create more content on the platform? Let’s take a look at four great examples.
General Mills & McDonalds – Providing a new video platform for senior-level executives
Early on in the pandemic (March/April), General Mills shared a number of videos where they interviewed key executives on key topics related to COVID. For example, here they discussed food trends with the vice president of consumer insights at Mills. Interesting, timely content, and another, “warmer” channel for execs to connect with customers and employees. And, at a time when other channels for senior execs might be a little tougher to come by, this one is opening up and drawing more eyeballs (and, easy to produce for comms teams working from home).
Likewise, McDonalds just recently introduced a new video series featuring its CEO, Chris Kempczinski. The interviews (so far, at least) have been done via Zoom. The most recent installment has Chris interviewing a franchisee in California. In the first episode, he interviewed Ann Murray, VP of Global Marketing with McDonalds. What’s smart about McD’s approach is this: They’re posting the interview to Chris’ personal account first (and getting the requisite engagement) and THEN reposting from the corporate McDonald’s account. It’s a classic two-for-one!
Johnson & Johnson – Showcasing a new video content series
One of the more fascinating content series that I’ve heard very few people talk about during the pandemic is Johnson & Johnson’s Race for the Vaccine series hosted by Lisa Ling. As the title suggests, it’s all about the vaccine–and J&J has plenty to talk about here as they are obviously directly involved. Ling has interviewed docs, nurses and J&J employees about a number of topics around COVID and the vaccine the last six months. But, what’s really interesting in this sense is how J&J is using video not only to showcase the show, but to tease it and promote each episode in advance. They also break apart each full episode into smaller video chunks to share on LinkedIn, too. In general, I’d say each show results in 5-6 individual pieces of video content. Talk about maxing out your investment!
Highlight safety efforts during COVID
If you want the best example of a company using video on LinkedIn to showcase how they’re keeping employees safe during COVID, Tyson Foods should be the first place you should look. Early on in this pandemic, when the spotlight was on food manufacturers, Tyson was all over this sharing video after video that showcased steps Tyson was taking in its plants to keep its teams safe. They have been as transparent as any food manufacturer providing tours of their plants and interviews with front-line employees. All in all, Tyson has been THE case study in how to use video to provide this level of transparency during the outbreak so far.
Introducing innovative technologies during the pandemic
In case you haven’t heard, Abbott has been way out in front of the virus, constantly introducing new products designed to test and treat people around the globe. They’ve seemingly introduced a slew of new products the last six months, and many times they do it via video. And it makes sense if you’re Abbott, too, right? Because for some of these products, it pays to see it in action (or, what it looks like). Especially they’re testing kit they’re introduced fairly early this summer. Video has been a great way for a med tech company like Abbott to bring some life to otherwise fairly vanilla and technical product introductions.