During a recent FreedomWorks event in Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) let fly a teleprompter-free speech that quickly grabbed national attention. Cruz, fresh off leading the effort to block the Democrats’ gun control legislation, turned the conversation back to his GOP colleagues and called a handful of them (who remained nameless) “squishes.”
Who was there to capture the moment? Not the mainstream media, not a gaggle of press cohorts, not Cruz’s campaign media team – but one single digital media specialist in the back of the room: Me.
Immediately after Cruz left the meeting, I clipped it, branded it with the trademark FreedomWorks “starcheck,” and had the video online in minutes.
As the video spread, stories began leaking that Cruz was thinking about a potential run for the White House in 2016. As conservatives googled him to learn more, the video from that lone new media digital cameraman was the most recent news hit in their search engine. This kicked off what’s been a busy few weeks for the senator, who has further established his conservative voice across traditional and new media. It should come as no surprise that the Iowa GOP has invited Cruz to their annual picnic next month – and with events like that, a legitimate path for 2016 is beginning to take shape.
What makes this event significant is not about me, but about how the Senator and his savvy advisors used my video as a way to complement his informal exploration of the presidency. The video reinforced angst among base Republican voters who are fed up with Washington and want to continue the fight against those “squishes.” It also solidified his conservative bonafides. All things a candidate will need to do in what will likely be a very large presidential primary field.
The result of all this publicity? When the video hit social media, we saw tweets turn into retweets, Facebook posts shared, and the YouTube clip we posted racked up 45,000 views on the FreedomWorks channel. Other people then cut down the video, reposted, and shared virally to the tune of about 85,000 views.
This is further proof that digital video is not an option in today’s campaign world, but a necessity. In the 24/7 news cycle, with content at the tip of our fingers, it’s about controlling the message and telling a story, quickly and often. With traditional campaign videos, it can take days to beautify optics before a message hits its target audience. The current media environment doesn’t allow for this, and any missed opportunities could be the death knell for your message.
Brian Jodice is a former TV reporter turned digital media specialist and Vice President, Media Strategies at Phillip Stutts & Company, Inc., a media and advocacy public affairs firm.