Connecting in the Media Age of Trump

Three Tips to Reach and Persuade D.C. Insiders

By Michael Kaplun, Senior Strategist, The Fratelli Group

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend National Journal’s special briefing on its new report: Reaching Washington Insiders: What Media They Consume, When and How.

During the height of the 2016 campaign, National Journal surveyed more than 1,000 “Washington Insiders” — Republicans, Democrats and Independents who work in Congress, federal agencies, the private sector and nonprofits — to determine their media consumption habits in today’s digital and mobile age.

Here are my top three takeaways from the briefing that could inform organizations and their advocacy communications efforts:

1) “Traditional” media outlets are still the most trusted. What’s old is new. According to the report, the media brands that Insiders from both sides of the political aisle trust the most are: The Washington Post; POLITICO; The New York Times; and NPR.

While it is not surprising to see these household names on the list, it is noteworthy that mainstream media outlets — which a Gallup poll found to have an all-time low in public trust — remain in high standing with Washington Insiders, regardless of political affiliation. (As President Trump’s recent “Hello, Bob” phone call to The Washington Post reminded us, we know he follows them closely too.) As media consumption trends keep shifting, these outlets should remain a central focus of your efforts to reach these critical Washington audiences, even as you stay up with other changes.

2) Insiders want news and information pushed to them. What does that mean? Increasingly, Insiders are consuming content that is delivered to their inboxes and social media streams, rather than perusing news sites or actively searching for stories.

In particular, Insiders want regular (daily / weekly / biweekly) newsletters and advocacy emails that include timely updates and information relevant to their agenda, industry and interests. So send your message and content directly to your audience — and don’t make them search for it. At Fratelli, we keep it clear and smart.

3) Social media is HUGE. In the age of endless breaking news and frantic tweets from the White House to the halls of Congress to corporate offices in D.C., Washington Insiders are relying on social media more and more as their go-to for the latest news and information. The Tweeter-in-Chief has no doubt increased this expanding appetite.

Over the last two years, Insiders have adopted social media more and more in their day-to-day, job-related activities. The top platforms being used:

· Twitter (for multiple uses — monitoring, sharing and discovery)

· LinkedIn (for monitoring and personal branding / networking)

· Facebook (for sharing and discovery)

Insiders are on these channels — actively — and you should be connecting with them there.

These findings may reaffirm much of what you and your organization are already doing (a good thing!) — or they may be an eye-opener on some level. If you are someone who needs to reach D.C. Insiders, you should assess your communications strategy based on these takeaways. If you’re off track, it’s time to adapt accordingly — and move swiftly.