[By Alex Thompson]

Social media is an integral political tool for government relations at every level. Individual government departments have an online presence spanning a unique Twitter handle to their own Facebook page. This has been a communications boon for the industry, allowing Canadians a degree of access to their government that has never been available before. For politicians, social media can be both an invaluable political means while also a formidable source of content for their opponents across the bench.

There’s a frequent saying in government relations regarding community outreach that suggests, “it didn’t happen unless there’s a picture to prove it.” In our lives of daily multimedia bombardment politicians have adapted to ensure every event and move made is covered by a photo, a tweet, a Facebook post or Instagram update. Sometimes the mere coverage of an event is just as important as the event itself. How else can your constituents know the hard work you’re accomplishing unless there’s some form of documentation to prove it? This has made the role of communicators even more online oriented, and key messaging a critical skill for outreach that is limited to 140 characters.

While social media has allowed for a greater transparency in the day-to-day activities of politicians, it has also allowed for a greater degree of scrutiny and criticism from both the citizenry and political opponents. Social media can be a cruel mistress; highly visible public officials are often skewered for the improper word choice, hashtag use, or photo surroundings. It has inevitably led to a streamlined need for government relations professionals who must double check every single posting and update that will go live. If social media has taught PR professionals anything about government relations, it’s that conveying your message succinctly and accurately will single you out from the pack.

(Photo by freestocks.org via Unsplash)