In past years, celebrities did not want to become politically active, as they did not want to risk polarizing their fans. But in 2018, voting has become a hot topic among celebrities, with famous celebrities running the gamut from Rihanna to John Legend encouraging their followers to get out and vote. Voting in its nature is nonpartisan, and these endorsements are creating an interesting political climate where celebrities are using their media power to encourage voting or endorse candidates. One pop superstar is using her platform and media power to not only encourage voting, but to endorse a candidate, and she might even get them elected.
In a normal election, a political candidate might look for the endorsement of other political figures and maybe even a past president, but what about Grammy-award winning artist like Taylor Swift? Swift’s fan base is known for being not only very large, but extremely loyal to her. On October 7, Swift broke her political silence and posted on Instagram about the upcoming midterm election.
This isn’t the first time a major celebrity has endorsed a candidate, but what makes Swift’s post special is it’s timing. Major celebrities like Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus were overwhelming supporters of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Election, but Swift’s endorsement is different. First off, she is voting in Tennessee, a traditionally Republican stronghold. Perry and Cyrus focused on important battleground states for Clinton, but Swift is focusing on a state that traditionally is ignored to elect democrats. Second, she is endorsing not only voting for her candidate, but getting out to vote regardless of party. She explains why she supports her candidate and emphasizes how important it is for everyone to register to vote. Third, she has very powerful media attention. With the media critiquing her in the past, as referenced in her last studio album, Reputation, she is beginning to use her platform to voice her beliefs, not just want the media thinks about her. It is an understatement to say her endorsement was successful.
According to CNN, within 24 hours of Swift’s post vote.com saw 65,000 voter registrations. Within a week of the endorsement of Democrat Phil Bredesen, he has gained significant traction in the polls and is only 3 points behind Republican Marsha Blackburn.
Now comes in public relations. Swift used her Instagram platform, that has nearly 112 million followers, to share her message. This gained extreme media attention and the use of her platform might actually shape the outcome of an election.
Having an influencer as powerful with as large of an audience as Swift might show the start of a new trend. Important people with powerful voices might not just come from the political realm. Swift has a large following, and they listened to her, as they have traditionally listened to her, making her a good influencer. Public Relations practitioners should always be looking for influencers that can make the right impression in non-traditional ways. This does not mean next time you reach out to a pop-star they will endorse your product or candidate, but thinking outside the box pays off. Trustworthy influencers can help make your next campaign a success, and in this case, might help swing an election.