Carlos Gutierrez from Aragon will be present at #MCDay21 talking about the importance of communicating and connecting. Gutierrez is Political & Corporate Social Media and a specialist in Digital Political Communication. He has worked digital communication of events in countries such as Spain and Latin America and has directed the digital campaign of President Elect Luis Abinader in Dominican Republic and the Mayor of the National District Carolina Mejía. In 2017 he directed the presidential digital campaign in Honduras.
He obtained the Rising Star in Washington D.C. for “Best professional trajectory under 36 years old”. He is currently founder and director of Le Black Room and has worked campaigns with Obama, Mariano Rajoy or Pope Francis.
Carlos, what does the work you do at Le Black Room consist of?
We are a team made up of specialists who cover the different areas of digital communication for campaigns, government and companies. Always innovating and anticipating, betting on technology together with sociology, psychology, small data, semiotics, Artificial Intelligence… deciphering, analyzing and modeling digital behaviors that allow us to generate tactics that impact different audiences. We work in total discretion and confidentiality.
Do you have offices in Mexico and the Caribbean? Do you have more opportunities for political social media?
Mexico is the country where most electoral processes take place. In addition, the location and connection of Mexico City with other countries allows us to work and have high mobility capacity for projects. Nowadays, although our work is digital, high-level projects require the presence of a team.
What role do new technologies play in your work? How does the politician approach the citizen through new technologies?
Understanding the citizenry is a fundamental part of our work, also reaching their screens and connecting with target audiences. We have to analyze their digital behavior, their tastes and needs. It is important to take precision shots and learn from each of the audiences in order to calibrate the message and achieve the objectives.
Now people have access to social networks practically from anywhere, through their computer, tablet or cell phone. They can connect both with their environment and with the brands they follow or those they want to approach. The same goes for political campaigns. We generate that citizens are interested in political content, which is usually rejected. It is talking about politics many times without talking about politics, innovating in the way we connect in a moment of disconnection between people in politics and the citizenry.
In 2020 we applied in the first election held during the pandemic in Latin America, the Presidential campaign in the Dominican Republic, technology, analysis and innovation in the content and the way we connect with the citizens. We dedicate a lot of time to research and study in the agency.
You are a reference in digital political communication and in Spain in particular for your work with major political figures around the world, even when social networks did not yet have the potential they have today. How were those jobs?
Every professional experience I’ve had over the years has been a constant learning experience, I’ve been able to collaborate with professionals who had different methodologies and styles. Today at Le Black Room we have our own methodology that continues to be calibrated and optimized after each electoral process or corporate project we work on. Technology advances and evolves, so does society although normally digital changes take a period of acceptance by society. We see this with blockchain for example.
Working on international projects around the world has given me a broader vision of the challenge of understanding the consumers of content in each place and working according to the communication objectives in the different ways of connecting. We live in a time of infoxication, fake news, anger, and constant technological advances; knowing how to adapt is fundamental.
You have experienced the evolution of political parties and organizations in their digital strategies in Europe and Latin America. How has that conversion been? Were they reluctant?
In each country where I have worked it has been different. Each country has its idiosyncrasies, its culture, its people, its rules, its rate of internet penetration and use of social networks. Also their electoral laws and the way elections work changes. What is clear is that it is impossible to understand an electoral campaign or a government that does not bet on technology and the possibilities it gives in the connection and understanding of the citizenship, in the transparency and streamlining of processes.
How do you work on voter segmentation? What does it consist of? How do you work with it?
With Digital Political Intelligence. With tools with artificial intelligence and specialists in the areas we mentioned before, such as sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists and specialists in data analysis. Always according to the general strategy defined in each project. It is important, and a challenge, to understand what people want and how to generate communication. It is also necessary to take into account the great variety of personalities that can be found in each region and the message has to reach each of them in a personalized way, which is why the different social, cultural, geographical characteristics or any other variable that may influence their tastes or needs are analyzed.
It is necessary to work the databases, the digital presence of each of the target audiences with whom we want to connect. For example, we can find younger people on TikTok than on Facebook, a different audience for audio campaigns on Spotify, plan programmatic advertising campaigns with platforms that allow you to work predictive behavioral models. You have to be clear about the message you are going to communicate and who you want to reach. Also the strategy studies to know in which areas you have to mobilize mainly.
How much should be invested in these segmentations? How do you influence voters, their emotions?
It is necessary to invest resources to have an optimal segmentation, but not only economic resources, because it requires human resources so that there are people specialized in the matter analyzing the information correctly and objectively. We also have to invest time to study and analyze each of the particularities that we find in the election.
However, we can also generate digital actions such as inviting the electorate to join a diffusion list, a newsletter, periodic bulletins, a WhatsApp group, Telegram or any database that can be generated. This game is about hacking the brain and emotions or waiting for the opponent to do it. Whoever does it better, wins.
Fake news is a serious problem in political communication in Spain, and also in the rest of the world. How can it be fought through social media? How do you work in this sense?
It is also seen today in the corporate world. To combat fake news it is essential to inform citizens honestly, work on the digital reputation of the candidate or brand and strengthen its credibility.
Campaigns are a digital war in which attacks and fake news are constant despite the attempts of the major technology platforms to combat it. We work closely with them to combat fake news, farms of non-real profiles and other tricks used in digital campaigns. We have to be prepared to fight them.
Also, in most of the countries where we work there are digital fact checkin platforms that are working to confirm the veracity of the information. We must also continue to work on educating citizens on the responsibility we have to corroborate sources and analyze information. But there is a reality according to the studies, and that is that fake news is going viral faster and faster.
Our job is to anticipate, educate citizens, strengthen the candidate, build a solid organic digital community and have a strategy prepared in case of crisis.
What new trends are emerging in the field of digital political social media?
New platforms are appearing every day, to which we must give the right importance and not believe that a campaign is won by a social network. There is also a trend in audio consumption and the use of digital voice assistants. It is necessary to value in each campaign the electoral revenue that each channel gives according to the country in which it is going to work.
In the recent elections in which we have been present, TikTok has connected with a younger audience. I also believe that new audio platforms, such as Clubhouse , will be part of the innovation in future elections, we must observe how society evolves in the acceptance and use of platforms because each election is different and therefore innovation is required, study the consumption of content, to be attractive to people, connect, permeate and can reach the largest possible target audience. That is why our team is always looking for the latest technological advances.
You also work for large companies in Latin America, how different is working with companies and politicians?
Companies value the high response and resolution capacity we have. The demand and experience of working in several countries and the knowledge of digital behavior. The sensitivity of working in political digital communication.
Our job is to make our client connect with the consumer through technology, to build that brand-person relationship. We work their digital tactics, generate community and loyalty; it depends on the company, its objectives and sector. We have worked with companies in retail, mass products, education, technology, services, gaming, each with specific and measurable objectives.
You have received several awards and recognitions in institutional and political communication, being the only Spanish winner in some of them. Polaris Awards in London, Reeds in Mexico for “Digital Consultant of the Year”. At what point did you know you wanted to dedicate yourself to digital political communication?
Social networks allowed a democratization of political-citizen communication, creating bidirectional and more authentic relationships. Technology has come a long way since then. Knowing the latest technological advances, deciphering users and continuing to connect citizens with politicians and institutions is a fundamental work to continue building better democracies, more transparent and participatory.
Carlos, what will your presentation at #MCday21 be about?
It is a reference event in Spain. We are going to talk about the importance of communicating and connecting. How companies can use events, technology and social networks to impact their audiences, strengthen their brand and interact with the community.