I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland as a part of my on-campus job as a Marketing Assistant at Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information. When first presented with this opportunity I was hesitant, but I knew this opportunity would be a once in a lifetime experience. I don’t consider myself politically involved, I watch the news and stay informed, but you will not catch me debating with others about immigration or the economy.
CCI partnered with Purple America, an organization focused on bringing forth more civil, respectful conversations about political issues, something that is lacking in the recent election. Some of the great speakers were Matthew Dowd, political analyst for ABC News, Katie Harbath, Global Politics and Government Outreach Director for Facebook, and Dr. Ben Carson, former Republican presidential candidate. The discussions between the wide variety of panelists was eye-opening, specifically the conversation on civility between presidential candidates.
Since I am a public relations major at Kent State, I think back to what we’ve learned in classes about how to address the media, plus what I’ve learned while at True. We’ve seen even more in this election how comments can be made and then magnified on social media. Anything Donald Trump says or tweets are retweeted or posted about millions of times.
Dowd talked about comments Senator Marco Rubio made about Trump having small hands and how Rubio became a trending topic on Twitter. All for making comments about Donald Trump’s hands, nothing politically related. A candidate can make a stupid comment at an event with no research to back it up, and reporters and attendees can instantly tweet it for the world to know. The news cycle is constant now, and we don’t have to wait to hear about it on the nightly news or read about it in the morning paper.
All the panelists agreed the days of being civil with the opposition are over. It’s now a more popular tactic for candidates to focus on tearing each other apart, rather than focusing on what they can do for the country. The media covers candidates attacking each other because it’s “entertainment” verses covering the candidates’ policies or plans for the presidency. It’s the new reality of presidential elections.
No matter your political beliefs and opinions, I think anyone could benefit from attending an event like this, where the diverse panels bring forward good thought-provoking points. It made me curious about how public relations and media relations will change throughout this election with social media being such a big player. It truly opened my eyes to how these political issues captivate our country, and I walked away a more informed citizen. Getting the opportunity to see Cleveland on the “big stage” first hand, gave me an experience I won’t forget!