What Political Communications is Really Like in the Donald Trump Era

Jessica Argyle stands outside the U.S. Capitol Building while working as a press intern in the United States Senate.

Who can reach more than 73 million people in the world through social media, with 43 million of these people reached on Twitter alone? President Donald Trump does.

Many say Trump’s uncanny ability to communicate through speech and social media won him the presidency. Believe it or not, Trump made a lasting impact on political communications and how it is executed.

I worked as a press intern for a senator during the election and I was able to see first-hand how the responsibilities of political communicators changed, and evolved during Trump’s campaign and election. Students who desire to work in the political communications field must adapt and learn the new skills necessary to be successful.

.Here are the skills that I wish I would have developed before working in political communications during the Trump era:

  • How to write more creatively
  • How to target key audiences better using social media
  • How to communicate (not just political issues)

Not just press releases anymore.

Political communications isn’t just about writing press releases anymore. During my time as a press intern, I was asked to write only one press release. Instead, more political communication professionals are being asked to use other platforms to get their key messages across. According to the George Washington University Library, all current United States Senators have an active Twitter account.

Social media is being used more than ever in politics to express a politician’s point of view. Students must learn how to effectively write about complex political policy on social media channels, especially Twitter and Facebook.

Not just targeting constituent anymore.

Trump showed America that people are listening, watching and hearing everything that is being said through social media. Due to the prominent role that social media is playing in politics and the ability social media has to reach more people than ever before, political communicators now have to write and strategically plan better.

For example, during my internship, I was asked to look at all of the senator’s key stances and condense them into main points. These key points were then put on the senator’s Facebook page. Not only were the senator’s constituents able to see these messages but so were thousands of other Americans.

All Americans now have access to everything posted online with a simple click of a button. Students need to learn how to use social media better to reach their target audience, which is broader than ever before.

Not just political communication anymore.

Press Secretary of the United States Senate, Jillian Wheeler, explained that since the election of Trump, she has been asked more than ever before to provide a comment to the press about what the senator’s opinion is on a tweet written by Trump.

“At the beginning of Trump’s presidency, we were receiving about 15 requests for the senator to make a comment regardless if the tweet had anything to do with politics or not,” said Wheeler.

Like Wheeler, many press secretaries are now being asked to make a comment about what their respected senator thinks about each specific tweet Trump writes.  Students who want to work in political communications must not only understand what is happening in politics within the specific realm they are working in but they must also know how to successfully communicate their employer’s opinions on matters that aren’t only political.

Jessica Argyle is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in business management at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. She is currently working in healthcare communications and enjoys content design and creation. To learn more about Jessica connect with her on LinkedIn.

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