Why this story matters:
The days when most political activity took place behind the scenes are long gone. Today, thanks to social media, we can follow politicians in real time. And for most politicians, this type of activities plays a crucial role -- they help them maintain control over their image and create an appealing background for their work.
Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz excells at this.
On his official Instagram account, Kurz likes to portray himself as an outstanding speaker -- either caught up in conversation or listened to by powerful leaders, such as Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán on January 30, 2018 or Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 28, 2018.
These snapshots may seem sponaneous, but, as political scientists Petra Bernhardt and Karin Liebhart point out in their analysis, nothing is a coincidence on social media. In contrast to traditional outlets, Instagram and Facebook provide users with full control over their editorial content. Kurz -- and his media team -- are therefore the only curators. Convenient for a politician who likes to rule with a firm hand.
Details from the story:
- Sebastian Kurz is known for his careful PR strategy, which experts describe as "very, very structured”.
- Bernhardt and Liebhart believe that those who bypass traditional media and focus on social platforms retain control the content but also of the overall effect of self-presentation.
- However, experts point out that if politicians want to succeed with their PR strategies beyond their "followers", "friends" and "subscribers", they still depend on the attention of traditional media, which can either boost their image or consistently question and undermine it.