A Laugh and A Vote: The Use of Entertainment in Today's Political Campaigns

As we enjoy, or possibly, grimace, during this caesura of ‘Post-Election’, ‘Pre-Trumpism’, as social media users have coined the time before Trump’s induction, we have a moment in time to pause and reflect – to reflect upon campaign methods, media theory, future implications, etc. Whether this current topic invokes feelings of anger, sadness, joy, relief, or anxiety, one will still find others processing the news and discussing the outcome on various news sources, TV channels and social media platforms. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans learn of current events and American news from Cable TV.

Seemingly most attractive to millennials, comedians used the outlandish or unusual personality traits of the two main running candidates, Trump and Clinton, as comedic relief for an American audience assailed by dramatic overstatements and frightening accusations. Trump has always served the public as a mockable character, and to an extent, we appreciate him for that quality. Society needs someone to laugh at, to point a finger to, and (with or without good humor), shake our heads and focus again on the small details of our lives. The notorious real estate mogul and reality TV show star first made an appearance on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show: "Donald Trump Interviews Himself", while Clinton first appeared as a more serious, powerful female on Ellen.

Just as entertainment was used to first announce the running candidates, so it also propelled the absurd, disturbing, and disparaging details during the campaign. Top late night show hosts, such as James Corden, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan capitalized specifically upon the loud traits of Donald Trump, in both verbals and nonverbal, which brought the public figure more attention and busy talk. Clinton, due to her more diplomatic speech and expected politician suave, was not as pursued as rigorously on such shows. Jimmy Kimmel spoke on this in a personal interview, stating, “Hillary Clinton is boring”. She was the expected; Trump the unexpected. Clearly, America was tired of the current system.

            These exact comedians have since jumped on opportunities to interview and cover the now-President-elect, Donald J. Trump. Political writer Chris Weignet compared such coverage and American attraction to an unusual character, like Trump, to past beloved Ronald Reagan (Huffington Post). Elena Chobanian argues that the use of mass media and such coverage of political figures and events is expected and even necessary in a democratic system, despite its influence on the level of dramatism used in journalism – or more accurately stated, story-telling (AraratOnline). Even during her campaign, Clinton spoke on the tiring length of America’s elections, and thus the resulting drama.

            As Christians, it is wearing on the soul to see such discord and cacophonous, disparaging dialogue amongst America’s citizens, not to mention to gradual turn away from its foundation of Biblical principles. Just as Americans today take time to pause and reflect upon this past election and its implications, so are we to read Scripture, seek God’s will, and enact selah – to pause and think of it. The Hebrew word selah is used primarily in the Psalms to emphasize the need of rest and withdrawal. Psalm 4:4 wisely states, “Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” As we look to the future and ask God how we should engage in it, we are to take the necessary time to rest from such chaos around us.

Putting On A Good Face

Due to my background and interest in public relations, I cannot help integrating the mindset of a public relations practitioner when analyzing political media, new sources and news coverage, particularly in regards to the presidential election. 

We've all heard, watched and read people's opinions of both candidate's presences on stage and on camera. Whether or not you think Trump needs to point less and Clinton to smile more, one cannot deny the importance of a presidential presence in public. This directly impacts the pathos, or the way an individual is perceived by their audience or public. Other factors include logos, the hard data or logical backbone of their arguments and ethos, the emotions used to state them. From a presidential candidate on stage to a student promoting a new school cafeteria budget, every person speaking to an audience (orally, virtually, written) will be implementing a combination of ethos, pathos and logos. Such intuitions, or standards of character, presence and reputation are engrained in every individual. Thus it's no surprise that articles on the two candidates' character and presence will pop up on your news feed.

The entire debate specifically evolving around Clinton's facial features, and even more specifically her smiling, fascinates me as it pertains to the public's impression of her (pathos) physically rather than with logic or hard experience/data (logos).

Is there more of an emphasis and conversation surrounding her physical pathos merely because she is a woman? 

When reading relevant news articles about this topic, I found a large number of fellow female writers passionately supporting Clinton and the unnecessary desire for people to see her smile more. Such talk was apparently sexist and too narrowly 'gender minded'. Journalists such as Angela Rye for CNN responded to other reporters about Clinton's physical presence in this way:

As I watched Monday night's debate, it became abundantly clear to me there never was a binary choice, that there is no choice at all. The debate made me an advocate. I watched someone who is presidential. I watched someone who is decisive, clear, poised and brilliant. I saw, for the first time, the candidate that most of my former bosses adore so much they have spent the last several months on the campaign trail as surrogates. I saw Hillary Clinton present and deliver the very best version of herself to the American people. The debate was a defining moment for me. My mandate was clear: I must do all I can to ensure Hillary Clinton is elected on Election Day. -Angela Rye, CNN Reporter, "Not Feeling hillary? I Wasn't, Either."

Clearly this female felt strongly that Clinton's presence was winsome. What about a male's opinion?

In an interview with The Hill this past week, Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell was specifically asked about Clinton's presence and impression on stage. In the video, Rendell stated the following:

"When people swatch a presidential debate, they sort of close their eyes and say, 'Can that person be President?' They're not saying, 'Can that person be authentic?', they're not even saying 'Can that person be all that likable?' [They're saying] 'is that person of Presidential caliber?' I think she can demonstrate that. I think she can also be funny, and I hope she will be."

The reporter interviewing Rendell asked, "Is that advice you've given her?" Rendell stated, "Yes, I actually agree with Reince Priebus - smile more." The reporter replied, "He took a lot of heat for saying that that was gendered criticism, like you were just saying that Trump was insinuating." Rendell concluded with the following statement: "If Trump says something stupid, I would just have a big sole on my face and then zing him. Zing him with a smile on your face."

"Zing him with a smile on your face."

The reporting of a male's opinion on such a matter was rare amongst the many other articles and opinion pieces from female writers.  

Why is this? 

More pro-Hillary articles like "Hillary Clinton's Angry Face" by Lisa Barrett for the New York Times demonstrated further these strong female opinions, both liberal and conservative. Perhaps because women are finding a platform and timely opportunity to talk about this important topic to them, they have flooded news outlets with such articles, whereas men do not find this topic as relevant for themselves and are thus not as interested.

Barrett in the New York Times goes on to give evidence of how emotion is perceived different on men and women's faces, and how this played out as such during the debate a week ago. 

She elaborates on the discrepancy between genders in the following snippet:

"In one study, published in the journal Emotion, my lab photographed male and female faces in various poses, such as smiles, frowns and widened eyes. Then we showed the photos to test subjects and asked why each face looked as it did. Was the person in the photo being emotional, or just responding to a situation? We found that our subjects were more likely to choose emotion for the photos of women — that is, they believed a woman’s expression was more likely caused by something internal to her — whereas for the photos of men, they were more likely to choose a situation.

...Or as we summarized our discovery: “She’s a bitch, but he’s just having a bad day.”

Besides Trump of course, the one other man mainly speaking on this issue was the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, as he posted the following statement to his Twitter account: 

This was the cause of the commotion? It's incredible to see how one comment on a social media platform can so drastically influence news outlets, voices of journalists and writers and various platforms to be brought to light. In this case, specifically female journalists, both conservative and liberal, came forward together to speak out against this 'narrow-minded gender separation'. However, the majority of male journalists on either side refrained from writing or speaking about this topic. Is this common in the news world? What topics does one gender have more claim to than the other? Are there specific topics or articles that are expected to only come from males or females?  Whether or not we as men and women resonate with a particular topic, we are called to live out truth and diversity as stated in the Holy Bible. Christ calls us to action of outreach - going to all the ends of the earth (Matt 28) and reaching all races and ethnicities so that at the final day, "every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:10, Revelation 7:9). Christ also calls us to daily truth-telling and honesty (Eph. 4:15, Psalm 15:2, Proverbs 8:7, Revelation 21:5). Whether or not we benefit from the truth, we are to proclaim and live it. This is so that all will know that we are followers of Christ, seeking to live a life honoring God. Indeed, every man "shall be known by his deeds" (Proverbs 20:11).

This was the cause of the commotion? It's incredible to see how one comment on a social media platform can so drastically influence news outlets, voices of journalists and writers and various platforms to be brought to light.

In this case, specifically female journalists, both conservative and liberal, came forward together to speak out against this 'narrow-minded gender separation'. However, the majority of male journalists on either side refrained from writing or speaking about this topic.

Is this common in the news world? What topics does one gender have more claim to than the other? Are there specific topics or articles that are expected to only come from males or females? 

Whether or not we as men and women resonate with a particular topic, we are called to live out truth and diversity as stated in the Holy Bible. Christ calls us to action of outreach - going to all the ends of the earth (Matt 28) and reaching all races and ethnicities so that at the final day, "every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:10, Revelation 7:9). Christ also calls us to daily truth-telling and honesty (Eph. 4:15, Psalm 15:2, Proverbs 8:7, Revelation 21:5). Whether or not we benefit from the truth, we are to proclaim and live it. This is so that all will know that we are followers of Christ, seeking to live a life honoring God. Indeed, every man "shall be known by his deeds" (Proverbs 20:11).

Tuned In

America's media and entertainment acts as if we are the center of the world - and they may not be far from the truth. 

This past week, I stood in line awaiting a much anticipated Q&A one-on-one with a well-known American artist, Nick Jonas. Ever heard of him? The line snaking around The Forum buzzed with gossip, throwback Jonas songs, and the snapping of selfies. I overheard a pair of young women, (females carrying the majority by far), beside me talking about their impression of Los Angeles so far. Their Australian accent and obvious markers of a tourist (need I even explain this?) intrigued an outgoing local like me. The cheerful pair were out here "on holiday" (vacation) from "the Bush" (I'm guessing some place in Australia) traveling around to see the "bottler places"(sounds like a good thing?) and views of renowned LA. Our conversation ranged from Boomer talk (about the kangaroos, which are apparently as common as dogs over there), to pop culture and politics. This is where they caught my attention. 

"Oh yah, we're seein' your election news every day on our side!"

Turns out both women were just as sick and tired of US politics, particularly the upcoming election, as I was. Trump and Clinton's faces were just as common in Sydney as Washington, and even smaller Australian towns new the latest poll results. I felt ashamed for not being able to reciprocate such knowledge towards their government or country's news.

When reading U.S. news I began looking into 'outside' sources - media located outside the U.S., speaking to a larger audience. This directed me away from the LA Times and CNN towards BBC and other European podcasts. An Australian podcast titled "Trump vs. Clinton vs. The World" hosted by La Trobe University particularly caught my attention, as Oxford professors and world (not American) economists spoke on the ramifications of each candidate (becoming president) upon the world. 

The impact that the next U.S. President has upon other countries is actually quite terrifying.

No wonder every other country is tuned in to what happens here! How incredibly frustrating might that be, as a citizen of another country, unable to vote, to only able to watch and see how one election could change your country's economy, public policy, taxes, income and more? And yet the podcast's speakers did not reflect anger or frustration, merely caution and observance. I forget that they've been doing this for years. They're used to watching America shape the world for good or for bad. 

These renowned professors, scientists and politicians spoke of Clinton's likely-to-be-continued "three D public policy plan", the plan she created as Secretary of State and would likely bring back as President : Defense, Democracy, and Development. Overall, you get the impression that she's the safe card. However, in a uniquely objective manner, the speakers then described Trump's opposite mannerisms, a tendency to be controversial, argumentative, defensive and unexpected. There could be a slight chance of scapegoating, blame and ultimate war with the Middle East. Overall, you get the impression that he's the wild card. Clearly these speakers are also fascinated with the notion that the American public could be pulled in such opposite directions.

Is this chaos? Or is this just politics? Though I carry the right to vote as an American citizen come November, I stand just as bewildered as my friends overseas. This self-conflict is apparently the majority opinion of Americans still. Most Americans don't feel particularly loyal to one party or the other, since only a slight percentage actually adore and support their party's candidates.

So how are we as Christians supposed to navigate these murky waters of politics? The world looks to us - do we have an answer? Although referring to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Saint Peter commands Christ followers to always "be ready to give a defense...with gentleness and respect..to account for the things hoped for" (1 Peter 3:15).  Now more than ever, with a presidential debate taking place Monday and the comparative points in the poll narrowing down to single digits, Christians are called to be ready and willing to speak, as they are asked to be in Isaiah. The content may not endorse a particular candidate, but of moral truths and a steady hope, as seen in even the darkest of Bible books like Job, Jeremiah, or Lamentations.

So what will you choose to do in this time of uncertainty?

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Plato

Why You Should Attend A PRSSA National Conference

College is expensive enough. We stock up on the napkins and ketchup packets from the cafeteria, groan when the teacher says we have to buy ANOTHER outrageously-expensive textbook, and happily pick up used writing utensils off the ground because they are -favorite college student's word: free.

Average college student's budget

So why take the time, money and effort to travel to a PRSSA National Conference?

First off, if you don't know what PRSSA is, you've got to read up on this incredible student-run organization. (I'll write a review post later on what PRSSA is and how it's benefitted me.)

Long story short, Public Relations Student Society of America isn't just open to American OR public relations students. This pre-professional society offers seminars, training sessions, awards, internships, scholarships, and networking opportunities for students to get a jumpstart on their careers. Almost every school has its own chapter, but all chapters gather once or twice a year to learn and converse together. 

One of these gathering times is National Conference. So what happens at these National Conferences and why should you shell out at least $250 to attend? Here are my top reasons that I have found to be true.

  1. You will grow as a confident and independent individual who can travel, eat and basically survive on their own (although you will probably never be alone).
  2. You will meet other students of various majors and backgrounds who are just as passionate about communication and working hard as you.
  3. You will learn of practical tools and steps that you can take to improve your personal brand and your school's PRSSA chapter.
  4. You will mature in your conversational and social skills as you network with professionals of all ages and careers.
  5. You will tour an incredibly fun, exciting, new and unknown territory!
  6. You will be able to properly "va-ca" (the SoCal termed act of vacationing) - by being in charge of your own schedule. If you rather tour a famous museum rather than lounge at the hot tub with students from around the world, go for it!
  7. You will taste new (maybe even unusual) foods and thus have the most interesting Instagram posts out of your friends.
  8. You will enhance your social media skills, from Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn to YouTube and more. (And you thought you were already so social media savvy!) #PRSSANC
  9. You will return from this action-packed trip exhausted but so ready to take on the world.

The next PRSSA National Conference will be held October 21-25 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The conference sessions will included a variety of topics, from sports to health care to politics, including mixers and networking opportunities. At this conference you will be able to use and benefit from the points listed earlier.

This is worth your money. Register today. #PRSSANC 

Countries Work Together to Support Nepal

Various countries work side by side in orde to provide the much needed supplies and funds to local Nepal hospitals and victims.

Various countries have individually contributed to the restoration and healing of Nepal victims. However, only certain countries are now startin to come together to act as one unit in the face of this devestation. Many have voiced the need for such an alliance of countires through the UN, and it looks like the UN is now listening.

The nonprofit organization named Sanitation For All has recently researched and reported on the collaboration of nations to support Nepal. The work towards Nepal has been channelled through what is called the Global Sanitation Fund, where countries come together to provide clean water, food and refuge for homeless and traumatized Nepal victims.

Despite this collaborative effort, countries are still giving and supporting Nepal on their own in various ways. China, Australia and the US have given immense funds for medical equipment and treatment, while India is working on a more personal level with the people.

Without a doubt this network of nations in encouraging to see! Perhpas mankind is not improving but our ability to work together despite differences is. May this effort be blessed and positively impact the lives of the poor Nepal victims.

The Opposing Campaign - Not A Competition

PR Campaigns of Paul and Clinton

When comparing the PR (public relations) campaign of the two main 2016 presidential candidates Rand Paul and Hilary Clinton, it's not even a competition.

Let's start with the definition of public relations. According to the National 2012 Public Relations Society of America,

public relations is:  the strategic communication that builds mutual beneficial relationships between the organization and its public.

Now using this definition, let's compare and contrast the PR campaigns of Paul and Clinton.

Besides an up-to-date campaign website, Paul also has every social media platform imaginable - TwitterFacebookYoutube, etc..

Clinton does too, so what's the difference? It's not enough to simply have these platforms, one must utilize it to connect with a broad audience.

Target Audience of Paul and Clinton

Clinton has boldly reached out to a variety of publics on a variety of platforms: to mothers, young adults, homosexuals, minorities, American workers using Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, TV, etc.

Rand Paul, on the other hand, seems to have reached out to one main American group - older or middle aged conservative Americans. Not as quite as diverse of a public, huh?

Clinton posts regularly on her social media platforms, while Paul does less posting and more coverage by  MSNBCPolitico, and other major newspapers and aggregators. Once again, reaching out to an older public.


His following quote displays his targeted interest group:

“I want to unleash the American Dream. I will return our country to freedom and prosperity, and restore the principles upon which this nation was founded: man’s right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” — Rand Paul

You know, the kind of older conservative that yells 'Merica! between  his teeth and the toothpick in his mouth.

Although the official Facebook page for Paul's campaign leaves much to be desired, another Facebook page called "The Rand Paul Revolution", seems to actually reach out to the younger generations  using memes, quotes, tweets, video, funny pictures, info graphs and other young adult medias to relay information. But is this page part of his campaign, or merely a young adult who's a fan helping him out?

True, Paul has had a lot on his plate with having to fight Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, other Republican and Libertarian candidates. However, based on even basic statistics and a layout of last election's results, Paul better start reaching out to more than one age group, ethnicity and interested party.

Political agenda aside and focusing on the PR campaign of the candidates alone, Clinton appears to win in a landslide. What is your opinion? How could Rand Paul improve his PR campaign, better connect with the public and reach a broader audience?

The Start of Hillary Clinton's PR Campaign

Well, it’s official. Hilary Clinton is running for president.

Or so social media says.

First former lady, senator and secretary of state Hilary Rodham Clinton announced on Sunday that she would indeed be running for President of the United States. However, she didn’t announce this through a press conference and speech. She used social media.

After two years of avoiding the official title of ‘presidential candidate’, Clinton launched a YouTube video that would start her 576days-long campaign. Immediately this video spread on Twitter and other social media, with her name trending as number on Twitter within the first hour. The issue was retweeted over 3 million times and she immediately received feedback from both sides.

This new tactic looks a lot different than her previous campaign against Obama a few years ago. Clinton has immediately employed the use of Twitter and YouTube, two social platforms that have risen in influence and popularity over the past 5 years. Amy Chozick’s New York Times article speaks of future plans that Clinton has for her campaign as well as current practices. Clinton will supposedly build her campaign off of Twitter and the original YouTube video using email and more video messages, much like the launching two-minute video posted Sunday.

The two-minute video itself does not even show Clinton’s face for about a minute in, emphasizing her focus on “the every day American”, such as moms, workers, blacks and whites, Spanish speakers and gays. Her statement today also demonstrated the platform of the campaign for women’s rights, saying “Don’t you someday want to see a woman President of the United States of America?” Clinton concluded the video with the statement, “Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion.” This theme is seen throughout her campaign’s website as well as trending social media issues.

This campaign technique has been both appraised and criticized by both sides, as exemplified in Benjamin Siegel’s ABC News article applauding her awareness for current times but also disapproving of her lack of official, traditional press conferences and speeches.

Jim Papa, EVP of Global Strategy Group says, “Although most Americans know Clinton and like her, the campaign announcement is a great opportunity to give people an even better sense of who she is as a person and what she cares most about. The announcement is a unique opportunity to communicate that her life in public service has been, and will continue to be, about expanding opportunity for every American, that she is listening to the American public, and that she takes nothing for granted.”

Do you think Clinton’s clever campaign will win her the presidential seat? How else might she use current and trending issues as well as social media to advance her campaign?