There are a lot of things that can change campaigns: Your candidate’s opponent says he “likes to fire people;” the Supreme Court upholds key parts of your candidate’s signature legislative piece; the opponent says he has “binders full of women.”
More than that, though, campaign teams need to get voters excited about the issues they think are important. For Josh Cook, the former Pennsylvania digital director for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign who became vice president of digital engagement at the New York City firm BerlinRosen in July, getting voters is one of the best parts of the job.
“You had to get people excited about any number of issues,” Cook said over the phone. “It’s not one policy, it’s not one platform … you have to get people excited about veterans' issues, about women’s rights, about education, you name it. It’s fun, it’s a challenge every day.”
From mid-2011 until the end of 2012, Cook took on the challenge of building social media followings for Obama in the Keystone State.
“We looked at the overall as 50 state campaigns. We ran a digital program in Pennsylvania with its own social media, advertising and email program,” Cook said. “We were running all of that to make sure people understood what was important in Pennsylvania was important to the president and recognizing that the big issues in Ohio were not the same issues as in Pennsylvania and were not the same in every state.”
For Cook, BerlinRosen presents an opportunity to continue to work on a variety of issues.
“If you look at our clients, I think what we do is driven by a real understanding of any number of issues,” Cook said. “We’re working on some of the most exciting stuff nationwide and, for someone in my position, being able to jump around and help is very exciting.”
Among BerlinRosen’s roster of clients and issues listed on their website are New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Cornell University, and Walmart worker and fast food campaigns.
The new department at BerlinRosen that Cook now heads aims to connect various branches of the public relations work the firm already does by coordinating online efforts and message.
“A lot of people know us for a lot of different things,” Cook said. “I think one of our goals is ... to showcase all of those practices” with digital.
After the 2012 campaign, Cook found himself working in D.C. for CLS Strategies, developing plans for regulatory and public affairs campaigns, and advising international political candidates. He's also worked for former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.
As for his new city, Cook is diplomatic.
“I had never planned to live in New York, so it’s definitely exciting,” he said. “D.C. is always a place I’ll enjoy.”
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