What’s The Big Deal With Cambridge Analytica and Facebook?

I still don’t truly understand why there are so many emotions of surprise and anger over the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook news.

Over the past six years, we’ve had many calls, emails and presentations that turn out to be another digital marketing company pitching the idea of individualized marketing. We’ve heard the pitch so often, we could contact companies ourselves to sell the idea. Individualized marketing is the ability to segment individuals based on likes, trends, places they visited, things they bought, and then cross referencing that information to a voter file in order to come up with behavioral models on a particular issue or candidate.

According to CNN, the Trump presidential campaign spent $5.9 million with Cambridge Analytica. In the 2016 presidential race, Democrats and Republicans spent a combined $2.4 billion.When you include all the congressional races, the amount spent in 2016 jumps to $6.5 billion. The $5.9 million is probably the same amount of money allocated for a gubernatorial race in California for campaign yard-signs, t-shirts, buttons and balloons in just Los Angeles.

For the better part of a decade, as political and public affairs consultants, we have utilized some version of micro-targeting programs through the use of “Big Data.” I can remember the use of these terms and applying these principles dating back to the re-election of George W. Bush and what was seen during the Obama campaigns. Using a version of behavioral models to target voters has been part of every campaign and, today, those who are not applying this method are committing malfeasance.

I am also shaking my head at all the social media posts saying, “They tested messages in 2014 for the 2016 election.” Welcome to reality. Political campaign staff never stops testing messages. This is a year-round process and it doesn’t stop. They are testing messages right now for 2018 and 2020, as well as for millennials who will enter the age bracket in about 5–8 years when voting in higher percentages will start to pick up.

This past election cycle, I was in 3 to 4 Cambridge Analytica and 3 Facebook presentations. Some clients engaged with the services and others used alternate versions of what each service was providing. Some won, some lost.

According to CNN, the Trump presidential campaign spent $5.9 million with Cambridge Analytica. In the 2016 presidential race, Democrats and Republicans spent a combined $2.4 billion.When you include all the congressional races, the amount spent in 2016 jumps to $6.5 billion. The $5.9 million is probably the same amount of money allocated for a gubernatorial race in California for campaign yard-signs, t-shirts, buttons and balloons in just Los Angeles.

While there will be more charges and investigations related to how the data of 50 million U.S. Facebook users was transferred to a researcher/consultant who was working with Cambridge Analytica, I am still not convinced that the $5.9 million spent with Cambridge Analytica helped shape the outcome of the election.

Over the past half decade, I haven’t seen much evidence to show that social media programs turn people out to vote in any significant numbers. These marketing/campaign tools can raise awareness, build a coalition and encourage people to share information, but in today’s world but getting a voter to cast a ballot requires a different type of motivation.

When to Send Out a Press Release

In communications, timing is everything.

After working hard on the language and tone of your press release, next comes the big question: “When should the release go out?” When determining the best time to send the press release, ask yourself, is the client seeking to minimize or  maximize exposure?

Minimize Coverage

If you are trying to minimize coverage, send the release on a Friday after 4:00 pm, when most reporters have already written their weekend article and it’s been submitted to the desk for review and editing.

If timing permits, schedule the release on the Friday before a 3-day holiday or the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. On those days, most broadcast stations have skeleton crews and print reporters will have already filed their articles and like most people, they are focused on something else, except work.

Even though it’s likely that most reporters will have mentally checked out for the long weekend, you still need to be prepared to answer media questions.

If you are trying to minimize exposure, you need to realize that there is no escaping coverage. With our mobile devices attached to our finger-tips, the endless number of bloggers and Google Alert, your content will be viewed by someone and will live online.

In a 24-hour news cycle world “flying under the radar” is impossible. Especially if the issue involves a high profile company, celebrity/politician/high powered executive or a topical issue.

Elements of your statement are bound to end up on social media, some blog or picked up by the weekend crew at a news station.

I have known too many people who don’t prepare, but spend their time hoping and praying that a weekend news story or sensational event will knock their story off a reporter’s list. That is a difficult way to live.

No matter the situation, have your talking points written out and be ready to respond.

Giving Your Story A Chance  

Each morning, most journalists are in front of their computers reading and sorting out their emails. They are looking for breaking news, scanning through the press releases and reviewing their in-progress files, before heading into a morning staff meeting.

Reporters receive 30-80 press releases a day, and in an election year, that number grows to 100-200+. If you don’t stand out, you’ll get buried.

In a press release, the subject line and first two to three sentences are key – eliminate the fluff and get to the point.

Also, try sharing your release at odd times. Instead of 7:30 am, send the release at 7:33 or 8:12. Don’t let your message get clogged up in the avalanche of pre-programed emails.

As to what day of the week works best, while weekends and Friday are not ideal, next comes Monday morning.

On Monday mornings, most people spend time sorting through and cleaning up their inbox – just look at the amount of junk mail you get throughout the weekend.

Like most people, reporters are spending their Monday mornings deleting, figuring out what is relevant or what emails to file for another day.

I like Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays. You will be given an opportunity to connect with a reporter before you send out the release (more on this in my next article) and you don’t have to deal with the Monday morning email clutter.

Adding Football To The Latino Vocabulary

As the National Football League (NFL) players begin their training camps, I have been fascinated by the league’s continued efforts to bridge the American culture in a bilingual and bicultural way to expand their fan base with the Latino community.

In the past few years the NFL has partnered up with Spanish language networks to put together a foundational understanding of the generational, ethnic, socio-economic and regional difference that exist within the Latino community. The NFL educated itself to understand that Latinos are not monolithic, we vary by region, dialect and customs.


With the help of its media partners, the NFL has been running Spanish language ads promoting Sunday as a time for family, unity and of course sports.

Fox Deportes became one of the first Spanish-language networks in the U.S. to televise NFL games. For the newly acquired Latino fans who didn’t get enough football on Sunday, they can now catch Monday Night Football on ESPN Deportes.

Locally, the NFL began sponsoring bilingual events at schools and tailgate parties. During Hispanic Heritage Month, the NFL runs ads highlighting Latino players and individual teams have also launched their own fan base programs such as “Vamos Bears”, sponsoring local pass, kick and run the ball events and handing out “De Todo Corazon” (with all my heart) Bronco t-shirts.

The effort is paying off.

Tom Van Riper, contributor to Fobes, noted:

Hispanics comprised 8.7% of the viewing audience of NFL games in 2014, up from 5.5% in 2004 (numbers for the partly-completed 2015 season aren’t available yet). That translates to 1.5 million people, a jump from 779,000 a decade ago. It’s still a small percentage of the U.S. Hispanic population, estimated at some 50 million, but no longer an insignificant piece of the NFL viewership pie. Naturally, the league has shifted advertising dollars in kind. During the 2014 season, according to Nielsen, the NFL spent $243.8 million on Hispanic media, a 60% increase over five years. Most of that is television, where ad spending rose to $230 million from $139 million.

Hispanic fans tend to follow the same players as anyone else, too. The most well-known player in the market: Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, who scores an 84% awareness level among Hispanic consumers. He’s followed by the Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli (80% and 76% respectively), along with Reggie Bush (67%) and Richard Sherman (65%).

The NFL has done a tremendous job at seeking to capture the hearts and minds of Latinos and Latinas. They realize that building a loyal following will take years and their efforts include speaking to Hispanics in Spanish and English and understanding the culture and nuances that exist within each subgroup.

According to Morgan Stanley analysts, “The Hispanic population in the U.S. reached 55.4 million in 2014, or 17.4% of the country’s total population. According to Census Bureau figures, Hispanics are projected to number 106 million by 2050.”

Not only will the Latino population continue to expand, so will their wallets.

While these efforts have become commonplace for marketing agencies dealing with automotive, digital and beverage industries, it is still a relatively new field in public affairs, issue advocacy and community mobilization.

As the population and income growth number show, our industry can’t continue to ignore this important group of voters, consumers, community leaders and decision makers – It is time for our industry to add its own Latino vocabulary.