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Anticipating the communication tactics of the Irish Presidential Campaign

Mary McAleeseThe Irish Presidency race has begun, with the election due to take place in October 2011 to find somebody to replace Mary McAleese who has served two terms back to back, total of 14 years!

Independent candidates are seeking nominations and political candidates are fighting it out to get their party nominations. It’s going to be interesting to see how communications will influence the race seven years down the line since our last presidential battle.

We’re all familiar with Obama and his use of social media to rally support in many different communities during his Presidential campaign, his polished messaging and strong delivery: will all these tactics work with a disillusioned Irish electorate desperately searching for a strong, iconic, leader?

Investment in campaigns and the use of taxpayers’ money will be critical, especially for those candidates supported by parties currently in power.  In this day and age, candidates will have no choice but to engage in social media battle if they are to connect with the public. The socially savvy candidates will stand apart from those whose Tweets are being generated by hired help.  Being genuine will be important.

Blogging has started, and an initial glance at Twitter and Facebook is already an indicator of the more popular candidates:

  • Labour Party: Michael D Higgins, 2,761 followers on Twitter and 1,633 fans on Facebook
  • Fine Gael has its own social surface (5,295 followers and 5,741 fans)  and several potential candidates, whom Mairead Mc Guiness is the only one with social profiles (500 followers and 294 fans)
  • Mary Davis runs as Independant, with 413 followers and 711 fans.
  • So does Seán Gallagher, with 3,090 followers and 1,025 fans
  • Niall O’Dowd, 520 followers and 749 friends on Facebook
  • But the winner is so far David Norris and its 15,169 followers and 7,863 fans

The next few months will prove very interesting – watch this space.

Sinead O Laoire

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