Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Sarah Hopkins
Due to the overly transparent, accessible nature of today’s media, we often watch good guys struggle to gain a well-deserved, positive presence among a rising pool of “bad boys” famous for unacceptable actions, particularly in politics. But good guys can still spread better messages… all it takes is a little street cred with Millennials.
So, what you do get when you take good guy candidate Scott Stringer and pit him against bad boy, Eliot Spitzer in a race for the unglamorous role of city comptroller? The answer is an audience of New York’s young, trendy (and broke,) gathering to tweet pictures of New York’s young, trendy, and not-so-broke… both groups supporting Stringer.
Until last month, Stringer’s record of passionate leadership and devotion as New York’s Manhattan Borough President made him the favorite. However, the race for comptroller became more complicated with the last minute ballot registration of Spitzer. But, Stringer won’t let Spitzer snag the title he deserves… at least not without a fair fight, and an army of hipsters.
I attended a campaign rally last Tuesday for Stringer titled, “Young New York for Scott Stringer.” It was a casual-chic gathering of Millennials, at a roof top cocktail party hoping to snap Instagrams of various young New York celebrity supporters, including Lena Dunham. “No one ever thought municipal finance could be sexy!” he told the audience. (But on this night, it was super sexy indeed.)
In her speech, Lena Dunham outlined financial and social hardships that young New Yorkers face, relating them to the comptroller’s responsibilities. Ms. Dunham hooked listeners by confessing, that after meeting Stringer for the first time, she Googled the word comptroller. The audience caught on quickly, and it was on to the next question: How can this comptroller hopeful help us in the big city?
Dunham had answers in the form of witty anecdotes, and Stringer had sincere, good-guy evidence to back them up (#Teamwork.) Addressing the City’s need for a rent stabilization plan that Stringer promises to provide, Dunham announced the population faces an inevitable threat of losing its recent college graduates to more affordable cities. “We can’t have our generation’s Patti Smith moving to Tampa!” She said. Amen.
Stringer took a chance by allowing Dunham to slip a few swear-words and provocative jokes into her speech, but his tactic to gain publicity seems successful and sincere. For instance, Stringer’s team was able to define and reach stylish, resourceful communities in the fashion-blogosphere by informing them of his plans to protect the garment district, gaining prominent supporters such as Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller Blog, and fashion photographer Terry Richardson.
Politicians have something to learn from Stringer: Don’t forget the young people, for they are the ones who will spearhead the launch of your message, free of charge. If you give an energetic/tech-savvy/media-injected audience something fresh, current, and cool to talk about, you’ll gain a cult of new best friends with iPhones, who are willing to defend your honor in the face of an opponent who has to dig through skeletons in his closet to find a clean shirt.
The PR lesson: To earn the eyes and ears of Generation Y, appoint Millennial figureheads to translate the message to their audience. This method has been important in Stringer’s campaign, while also showing his dedication to become an accessible and relatable leader to the City’s diverse population.
“It is cool to be in a comptroller’s campaign now,” said Stringer to the Wall Street Journal. “That has never happened in the history of the United States, I recognize that.”
Congrats Stringer, you’re dubbing comptroller the hippest role in city government, a title you def’ deserve.