Building a public image for a politician is much like building a brand. 

You usually start with values, continue with processes and principles reflecting those values, and end with showing their purpose, speaking directly to a specific audience. 

💡Read Everything you Need to Know About Political PR

Everything included in creating this brand or public image either builds or disrupts their reputation. And reputation is, ultimately, one of the key elements determining your success or failure, especially when it comes to politics.

So what is the way to political success then? To a large extent in managing this online reputation well.

There are 5 ways to do online reputation monitoring in politics successfully:

  • Real-time news tracking
  • Social media listening
  • Sentiment analysis in media coverage
  • Competitive analysis
  • Reporting

Let’s go briefly through all of them.

Real-Time News Tracking

Real-time news tracking gives politicians and their PR teams a considerable advantage in many ways. It allows them to monitor breaking stories, ensuring they are well-informed and can respond promptly. For example, during a crisis, a swift and well-calculated response can mitigate potential damage.

Former President Barack Obama’s team excelled in this aspect, utilizing tools to monitor news in real-time, enabling them to respond effectively during critical moments.

Obama’s real-time news monitoring strategy

One of the most notable instances showcasing the Obama administration’s skilled use of real-time news tracking occurred on May 1, 2011, when the U.S. military carried out a raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

The operation was kept classified until completion to ensure the element of surprise. Once the news broke, it became a global headline, with various media outlets covering the story extensively. The whole process was monitored on different levels.

Monitoring social media

Obama’s team actively tracked social media platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook, to gauge public reactions and sentiments in real time. The monitoring helped identify trending hashtags and discussions related to the news.

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Tracking social media for mentions of Joe Biden with Determ

Tracking news outlets

Real-time monitoring of major news outlets allowed the administration to understand how the story was being reported and ensure accurate information dissemination. It helped them identify any potential misinformation circulating in the media.

Crisis communication

Recognizing the potential impact on global perceptions, Obama addressed the nation on the same day to confirm the successful operation. The communication was carefully crafted, leveraging insights gained from real-time monitoring to address potential questions and concerns.

Read 6 Political PR Examples of Crisis Management Done Right

Public sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis tools were employed to understand how the public was reacting to the news. This analysis guided subsequent messaging, allowing the administration to adapt its tone and content based on public sentiment.

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Tracking sentiment over time with Determ

Results:

The announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death received widespread public support. Obama’s swift and well-coordinated response, facilitated by real-time news tracking, contributed to the positive perception of his leadership during a critical moment.

Social Media Listening

Another important element of online reputation management in politics is social media listening. Social media has become a powerful force in shaping public opinion. Politicians leverage social media listening tools to understand what constituents are saying, identify trending topics, and inspect public sentiment. A notable example is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who actively engages with her followers on platforms like Twitter, using social media listening to address concerns and amplify her key messages.

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’ social media listening strategy

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent U.S. Congresswoman, is known for her adept use of social media to connect with constituents and amplify her messages. Her approach to social media listening involves actively monitoring various platforms to gain insights into public sentiment, trending topics, and constituent concerns.

Read How Social Media is Transforming Political Communication

Direct engagement

AOC regularly engages directly with her followers on platforms like Twitter, responding to comments, questions, and concerns. By actively participating in conversations, she creates a sense of accessibility and transparency, fostering a more personal connection with her audience.

AOC Streaming on Twitch Tweet
AOC on Twitter (X)

Identifying constituent concerns

Through social media listening tools, AOC identifies recurring themes and concerns raised by her constituents. This enables her to stay informed about the issues that matter most to the people she represents.

Share of voice chart in Determ discovering the most frequent topics people are discussing

Amplifying key messages

AOC strategically amplifies her key policy messages by leveraging insights from social media listening. By aligning her messaging with the topics resonating most with her audience, she maximizes the impact of her communication.

Addressing misinformation

Actively monitoring social media allows AOC to address misinformation or misconceptions in real time. By promptly correcting inaccuracies and providing context, she maintains control over her narrative.

Read How to Stop Fake News

Results:

AOC’s direct engagement and active listening contribute to a vibrant online community around her. The strategy allows her to gauge public sentiment on policy matters and adapt her communication to effectively address concerns.

Sentiment Analysis In Media Coverage

Understanding the sentiment surrounding media coverage is vital for crafting a positive political image. Sentiment analysis tools help politicians discover whether news articles or social media discussions are positive, negative, or neutral. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, for instance, employed sentiment analysis to adapt their communication strategy based on public perception, allowing for more effective messaging.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton’s team employed advanced sentiment analysis tools to monitor media coverage and public sentiment surrounding her candidacy. This approach allowed the campaign to understand how the media and the public were framing Clinton’s image and to adjust their communication strategy accordingly.

Read How to Do Social Media Sentiment Analysis in Politics

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Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s sentiment analysis strategy

Tracking media coverage

The campaign used sentiment analysis tools to systematically monitor news articles, opinion pieces, and social media discussions related to Hillary Clinton. By categorizing content as positive, negative, or neutral, the team gained insights into the overall sentiment surrounding Clinton’s campaign.

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Sentiment analysis by channel in Determ

Adapting messaging

Based on sentiment analysis results, the campaign could adapt its messaging to address prevailing sentiments. For instance, if negative sentiment emerged around a specific policy proposal, the communication strategy could be adjusted to provide additional context or emphasize other positive aspects.

Identifying hot topics

Sentiment analysis helped the campaign identify hot topics or issues gaining traction in media coverage. This allowed Clinton’s team to proactively address emerging concerns or capitalize on positive narratives.

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Word cloud – words most frequently used next to the keyword Biden; source: Determ

Tailoring outreach

The insights from sentiment analysis influenced the targeting of specific demographics and regions where sentiment was particularly crucial. Tailoring outreach efforts ensured a more personalized and effective communication approach.

Results:

The use of sentiment analysis contributed to a more dynamic and responsive communication strategy during the campaign. Clinton’s team could navigate shifts in public sentiment, providing a more nuanced and adaptive approach to messaging.

Competitive Analysis For Online Reputation Management In Politics

In the political arena, it’s not just about managing one’s reputation but also keeping an eye on the competition. Competitive analysis involves monitoring the online activities and strategies of rival politicians. For instance, during a campaign, candidates may analyze their opponents’ messaging to differentiate themselves effectively. This approach was evident in the 2020 Democratic primaries, where candidates closely observed and adapted to each other’s online strategies.

Democratic Party’s competitive analysis strategy

During political campaigns, parties engage in competitive analysis to monitor the strategies and activities of rival political entities. The Democratic Party, as an example, employs competitive analysis to gain insights into the online presence, messaging, and engagement strategies of opposing parties or candidates.

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A competitive analysis of Republican candidates in 2024 American Elections; source: Determ

Monitoring opponents’ social media

Democratic strategists use social media monitoring tools to track the activity of Republican candidates and assess their messaging. By understanding the tone, content, and engagement levels of opponents, the Democratic Party can tailor its strategies to effectively counter or differentiate themselves.

Read How to Track and Measure Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media

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Monitoring earned and owned channels in Determ

Analyzing campaign websites

Competitive analysis includes a thorough examination of the campaign websites of opposing candidates. This involves assessing the clarity of messaging, policy proposals, and overall design to identify areas where the Democratic Party can enhance its online presence.

Assessing digital advertising

Democratic campaigns closely analyze the digital advertising strategies of Republican counterparts. This includes evaluating the types of ads, target demographics, and the overall effectiveness of digital campaigns to inform and optimize their own advertising efforts.

Understanding the messaging trends of competing parties allows the Democratic Party to respond effectively to emerging issues. By identifying popular narratives or policy emphases from opponents, strategists can adjust their communication to resonate with a broader audience.

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Competitive analysis of presidential candidates in Determ

Results:

Competitive analysis provides the Democratic Party with a comprehensive understanding of the digital strategies employed by their political rivals. The insights gained help in refining their own digital and communication strategies for maximum impact.

Reporting

Effective online reputation management in politics requires constant evaluation and adjustment. Politicians use reporting tools to track key metrics, such as online mentions, sentiment trends, and engagement rates. This data-driven approach allows for informed decision-making. The UK’s Conservative Party, for example, employed comprehensive reporting tools during the 2019 general election to assess the impact of their online campaigns and adjust strategies accordingly.

UK Conservative Party’s reporting strategy

Effective reporting is crucial for politicians to assess the impact of their political online reputation management strategies. The UK Conservative Party, for instance, has employed comprehensive reporting tools to track key metrics, analyze data, and inform decision-making during election campaigns.

Metrics tracking

The Conservative Party utilizes reporting tools to track various metrics, including online mentions, social media engagement, website traffic, and sentiment analysis. Metrics provide quantifiable insights into the party’s digital footprint, allowing for a data-driven understanding of their online reputation.

Real-time monitoring dashboards

Dashboards that display real-time data are used by the Conservative Party to monitor the immediate impact of their online activities. This includes monitoring spikes in online mentions, changes in sentiment, and the virality of specific content.

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Mentions over time by source in Determ

Social media analytics

Detailed social media analytics provide the party with information on the performance of their posts, audience demographics, and the effectiveness of their engagement strategies. Insights from social media analytics guide the party in refining its social media communication to resonate with the electorate.

Comparative analysis

Reporting includes comparative analysis, where the Conservative Party evaluates its online performance in comparison to rival political parties. Understanding how they stack up against competitors helps in identifying areas for improvement and differentiating their online presence.

Results:

Reporting allows the Conservative Party to make informed decisions based on data rather than assumptions, optimizing their online reputation management strategies. Immediate insights from real-time monitoring help in adapting strategies on the fly, especially during fast-paced election campaigns.

Conclusion

As political figures and parties continue to use the power of technology and analytics, the ability to pivot swiftly, engage authentically, and adapt strategies based on real-time insights becomes crucial. In an era where public perception is shaped by every online interaction, mastering these five key elements of online reputation management in politics is not just a strategy—it’s a necessity for political success.

If you’d like to learn more about how to use Determ for online reputation monitoring in politics, book a demo with one of our experts.

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