US Presidential Debate: Hype, Spin, Memes, and Newsjacking

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Viral Marketing  |  Public Speaking  |  Buyer Persona  |  Marketing  |  US Presidential Campaign Marketing & PR  |  Newsjacking  |  Artificial Intelligence

Trump Biden shutterstock_2384408337Thursday June 27 brings the first US Presidential debate of the 2024 election season. I love watching it play out before, during, and after the 90 minutes the candidate spar live on stage. The media will be hyping, the campaigns will be spinning, and memesters will be doing their viral thing. We may see some clever newsjacking too. 

What’s fascinating to me as a marketing strategist is the different ways people will consume the content of the debate. Just like marketing for a company, there are different buyer personas when the product is a candidate appealing for votes.

Smart campaigns are thinking of each of these audiences as they prep their candidates:

There are those who will watch the entire debate live. I will be watching on CNN. I want to see it with my own eyes, hear it with my own ears, and make up my own mind about what I witness before I read what the pundits have to say. While there are many people like me, it’s still a small percentage of Americans. The first Biden-Trump debate of the last cycle, held on September 29, 2020, was watched by about 70 million people on traditional television.

Then there are those who will skip the live debate, turning to mainstream media after it’s over.  These people wait for the analysis and watch the highlight reels. The clever quip, the off-the cuff comment, and the prepared zinger often lead these news stories and highlight reels and serve as millions of voters’ first exposure to what happened.

The biggest group are people who aren’t focused on the debate at all. These are people whose first exposure to what happened will be a meme popping up on their social feeds the next day. Some real-time messages will be generated by the campaigns and their surrogates, but most will be from people who love creating rapid responses on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms. Many less engaged Americans either don’t vote or have already made up their minds about the candidates based on what they see via their social media AI-driven algorithms, simple ideas like “Biden is senile” and “Trump is a liar”. Their social feeds likely already reflect their views so the short memes that appear in their feeds reinforce what they’re already thinking.

Newsjacking the debates

And of course, there are the marketers who will be tuned into the live debate, looking for an angle to talk about their expertise, products and services. Big companies and small would love to have a viral moment on Thursday.

There will likely be fully staffed real-time “war rooms” at marketing and PR agencies on Thursday evening all looking for newsjacking opportunities. Experts in cranking out short videos, gifs, images, and the written word will be at the ready, just a hashtag away from viral fame.

Important note: This is a marketing blog, not a political blog. I am not commenting on any candidate’s views on the issues nor am I publicly supporting any candidate. I write about the US Presidential election because it is a massive marketing case study, not because I voice my support for any candidate over another.

For more of my posts about US Presidential election marketing going back five election cycles, go here.