On Dec. 16, Jeb Bush announced he was exploring the possibility of running for president of the United States in 2016. Bush made his announcement on Facebook and included details on how he was starting a leadership political action committee to raise funds. The announcement caught significant attention from members of the media who analyzed his announcement.
Bush has a reputation issue; when the average American hears the name Bush, he or she probably thinks of President George W. Bush. With the housing market crash and the negative opinions on the War on Terror, President Bush left the White House in 2008 with a low approval rating hovering around 30 percent. To have a successful shot at the White House in 2016, Bush needs to rebrand himself and pull away from his brother’s image.
The public may know of Bush because of his family’s role in politics, but this large recognition does not translate into a large following. Compared to tweets and statuses of other possible Republican nominees for 2016, Bush’s Facebook announcement received very little traffic. The status announcing his potential run for Republican nominee in 2016 has approximately 6,000 likes. It is estimated that if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president in 2016 and announce her decision on Facebook, she would put Bush’s social media performance to shame. Bush has approximately 120,000 likes on Facebook, while other potential republican nominees for president in 2016, such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, have millions. Bush’s Twitter following also trails behind potential republican candidates Paul, Cruz, and Chris Christie.
Bush’s challenge will be to generate more conversation about himself, but not conversation that links him to his brother. Bush will have to brand himself as different from his brother and show himself as a leader in the weeks to come by commenting on current events and political issues taking place in the country. If Bush can quickly build recognition by appearing on various news outlets, he may be able to build up his social media following. As the presidential race of 2016 nears, we will see various public relations strategies unfold among all the potential candidates, and we will see if Bush can overcome his challenges.
By Melaina Chromy
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.