2021 has brought a wave of change to Washington, DC. Organizations and industries are vying for the attention of President Biden, his administration, and policymakers. With a divided nation, brands are facing challenges on how to approach consumer advocacy — especially when consumerism and activism are becoming increasingly intertwined. 

CRAFT’s Brian Donahue recently participated in a PRWeek panel on strategies for communicating in this new political era, alongside the American Petroleum Institute’s Rhonda Bentz, and the Consumer Brands Association’s Katie McBreen. The leading takeaway is the new administration will be anything but traditional. While talking heads and journalists are hailing the administration’s approach as “traditional” or “boring,” it’s important to understand that your messaging should be anything but. 

Here are CRAFT’s recommendations for impacting the new administration’s movers and shakers:

  • MAKE THE NEWS THAT MAKES BIDEN’S CLIPS – According to Politico’s Daniel Lippman, Biden begins each day with a clips package featuring articles from The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He also reads local Philadelphia papers such as The News Journal and The Philadelphia Inquirer. His go-to columnists include Thomas Friedman and David Brooks of The New York Times. The takeaway: the value of print hits is on the rise. 
  • NO SILVER BULLETS – HEDGE NEWS PUBLISHERS – President Biden gets much of his news via the Apple News app, too. Many publications partner with Apple News, including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Time, and Forbes. Worth noting — two of the President’s go-to news sources, The New York Times and The Washington Post do not partner with Apple News. Their articles will still appear in the free version of the Apple News app, but you won’t find content from these publications on the subscription-based Apple News+ app.
  • DON’T FORGET ABOUT TVAccording to Politico, Biden starts his day with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and often tunes into Fox News. MSNBC reports that “Morning Joe” delivered its strongest audience performance ever in 2020, finishing the year as the number one cable news show in the 6:00am time slot, surpassing Fox News’ “Fox & Friends”.
  • USE EFFECTIVE MESSAGING TO CONNECT THE DOTS – The Biden administration circulated a memo to journalists conveying their intentions for addressing issues specific to social change. Communicators will not be successful in impacting policy unless they illustrate their contributions to society and their involvement in social issues.
  • BE SMART WITH MESSAGING AND CREATIVE WITH DELIVERY – Communicators must adapt alongside their audiences. The Consumer Brand Association’s Katie McBreen shared an important reminder of the new environment in which we are operating. “People aren’t commuting to work or spending time in cars anymore,” said McBreen. “We need to think creatively about reaching people when they are doing their new habits and what that looks like when we enter the post-vaccine era.”
  • PAY ATTENTION TO BELTWAY INSIDERS’ MEDIA HABITS Organizations must think creatively to reach DC’s influencers. For instance, use non-traditional platforms like Pandora and Spotify. Over 20% of the DC population (1.1 million individuals) is actively listening to Pandora on a monthly basis, many of them political influencers and government officials. Spotify is 45% larger than Pandora, so we can assume that Spotify has ~1.6 million monthly listeners in DC. And don’t underestimate Twitter, which was practically built for DC influencers. 67% of DC opinion leaders consider Twitter a critical source of news and information, and 54% use Twitter multiple times a day. 

    Digital advertising budgets exploded last year, thanks to more people spending time online. Search, social, and connected TV (CTV) all saw double-digit year-over-year growth. 2020 was the worst year on record for old-school linear TV — and TV advertising in 2021 is expected to be 15.2% lower than in 2019.

As with any new administration, the way organizations and brands communicate must evolve. CRAFT works to meet each of these unique challenges presented by the changing policy landscape.

How are you planning on reaching DC influencers in 2021? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn