Tag Archives | New Jersey

Cory Booker’s Twitter Love Goes to Washington

cory bookerIn the recent campaign for Senate in New Jersey, Republicans tried a completely predictable communications strategy. They blasted Newark mayor Cory Booker as a “celebrity” candidate, who was interested mostly in his own reputation, something he’d carefully built using Twitter.

It is true that Booker is the Twitter mayor, and critics have┬ádenounced his Twitter feed as narcissistic, disingenuous, and self-promotional. There may be a bit of truth in all of that – one doesn’t run for office without a bit of chutzpah and ego – but the impact of Booker’s Twitter feed is far greater than his reputation alone.

I live and work in New Jersey, so I’ve a bit of perspective not just on the race, but also on the cities in our state. I travel about quite a bit, and I have business meetings everywhere from bucolic Hunterdon county to gritty Trenton. One of the big disappointments of New Jersey is that almost all of its cities are under assault: too much crime, too much corruption in government, too much apathy, too much decay.

Newark traditionally has been one of these cities. Its reputation, for as long as I can remember, has been poor. Most people never go beyond the train station, a transition point for the trip into New York City.

But Booker’s Twitter feed has succeeded in reacquainting the rest of the state to what is our largest city. Whatever you think of Booker, he is the face of Newark. More importantly, to the city-shunning suburbans, he has introduced the people of Newark. The rest of the state must now acknowledge: There are folks who live and work in Newark, and who love it. To the many Twitter followers outside the boundaries of Newark, he shone a bright light on these residents, and gave them a megaphone.

This could become his biggest legacy, if the next mayor chooses to carry it on.

Booker was successful because he connected personally with the people of Newark. This new way of governing – of giving everyday people a real and intimate voice – was a promise extended by the Obama campaign in 2008, but never realized during the Obama presidency. It has been a huge disappointment, because the opportunity to listen to the unfiltered opinions of the electorate seems so, well, democratic.

Booker’s election reignites that hope. Maybe it’s not possible for him to answer every tweet from every Jersey Girl or Boy, but I’d sure like to see him try. Even simple analytics on his Twitter feed – measuring the sentiment of the people about the government shutdown vs. defunding Obamacare, for example – would be an amazing act of political insurgency.

My vote is always with the people. Let’s hope Booker represents it well.

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What a Jersey Girl Thinks About Sandy

Photo: Nick Harris

Simply Talk Media is a New Jersey company, so of course we were affected by Hurricane Sandy. We were rather lucky that we lost power for just a few days. Actually, it was a good excuse to clean our refrigerators, though I’m convinced that my wine fridge is now not working properly.

Thus, I’ve been able to focus on the coverage of the storm and its lasting impact. I grew up on the Jersey shore, so the devastation is very personal. I’ve been impressed with what people are doing to help out those who’ve lost their homes. There have been numerous food and clothing drives, and many have volunteered time to help clean up. In fact, I’m proud to say that my own son is giving up his Thanksgiving break from college to help with Hurricane relief.

Here are a few of my observations of the storm coverage and conversation:

The role of the public library. I wrote a guest post for the New Jersey State Library (also a client) about how social media was critical for staying informed during the storm and how public libraries became refuges.

Best digital and social practices. Over at Biznology, where I’m a regular contributor, I looked at how digital media marketing was used during the storm by governments and the utilities.

Regional dialect differences, even within the state: One internet meme included a photo with this statement overlaid: “We don’t ‘go to the beach,’ we ‘go down the shore.’ Like if you understand what we mean.” For a shore girl, this is the difference between feeding the seagulls and shooing them away. I lived at the beach, so I never went ‘down the shore.’ As a native, though, this meme spoke volumes about how much the Jersey shore means to anyone who has spent time there: Tourists love the shore and are willing to support and restore it. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate your help.

Misplaced blame. Now that immediate danger is past, as well as the presidential election, it has been fascinating to watch the rhetoric. The New Jersey governor is being vilified by his own party for excessively praising the president. While the hurricane was bad luck for Romney, effectively neutering his campaign just days before the election, the Christie-Obama lovefest didn’t cause a loss at the polls. It’s pretty simple: Romney’s campaign strategy was off throughout the entire campaign. He failed to attract large demographic groups that turned out to be pivotal to a win. That’s a messaging problem, not a NJ governor problem.

I’ve been lukewarm about Christie since he campaigned for governor. While I’ve always appreciated his passion for defending our oft-maligned state, I disagree with many of his positions, and initially I resented his attitude. I’m not sure if he’s learning how to direct that attitude more appropriately, or if I’ve simply become used to him. Either way, he doesn’t have that “bull in a china shop” appearance anymore, although where Obama is concerned, I’m sure the GOP would disagree.

What our nation needs now is bipartisanship. I get the feeling that Christie has recognized that earlier than the rest of the party.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Christie’s drive-by at SNL, it’s well worth the watch.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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