Political public relations and election campaigning
Authors: Lilleker, D.
Election campaigns are highly febrile environments necessitating extensive strategic communication. This chapter explains how campaigns are orchestrated and executed drawing on the public relations function’s schematic. Aligning functions with the objectives of political parties allows a deeper understanding of how political parties approach campaign design and how strategies are developed to meet specific, contextual goals. The chapter moves on to discuss the relationship between traditional public relations theories of publics as well as the professionalization thesis which dominates political communication approaches to understand electioneering. These discussions form the basis for evaluating the challenges to democratic culture posed by trends in campaign tactics. The impact of personalization, a core feature of populist political projects, as well as the use of negative messaging have earned significant attention in recent years. The negative impact of these trends suggest that a more reflective and theoretically informed public relations strategy is required from political parties, one that balances strategic objectives with maintaining the health of democratic culture.