Is @CoryBooker’s Response Strategy Sustainable? No. How He Can Better Serve Newark on #LocalGovChat

Are Cory Booker’s Tweets Helping or Hurting the City of Newark?

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Cory Booker and his prolific tweeting during the recent snowstorms that have bombarded the Northeast in recent weeks. And while his personality seems more than genuine, his energy contagious, and his passion unquestioned, he is hurting his own government.

From a public relations perspective, he is a huge success. Mr. Booker has brought more positive national attention to Newark than, well, it has probably ever received. His passion undoubtedly lead to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sending millions to support schools. He is a big, huge personality (although shrinking from his new #letsmove health campaign). Any city would be lucky to have a champion like Mr. Booker leading the government. He has become Newark’s brand. It’s Booker country – at least from the outside looking in.

There is one problem. Mr. Booker is one election away from being gone – along with his one million plus followers. He has allowed his personal brand – and it is an amazing personal brand – to overshadow the government.

As of 9:53 pm on 1/11 2011, Mr. Booker had 1,066,308 followers. The City of Newark has just 1,722 followers. The header advertising the city’s official Twitter handle isn’t correct either. It’s@cityofnewarknj, not @cityofnewark.

In “I Don’t Care About Your Personal Brand,” Geoff Livingston uses a Clue Train-style list of 25 Personal Branding Manifestos that he applies to marketing corporations, but these manifestos can just as easily be applied to government.

Mr. Livingston states, while linking to a Brian Solis post:

“But while momentarily interesting, your personal brand won’t build real value for the market –unless your personal reputation revolves around delivering consistent regular value to your community.”

From a government operations perspective, Mr. Booker’s community is Newark. Those are who he serves at the pleasure of.

If Mr. Booker leaves, any value he has added to the City of Newark, at this point all but disappears when the next mayor takes office.

In a related post on personal branding, Mr. Livingston states it best:

“Further, personal brands and rock stars undermine teams and the kind of collaborative cultures necessary for corporate success. It’s about we, not me. This is a universal facet of all successful life relationships — personal or business.”

“Government” could easily be inserted into this statement.

As a public relations professional, Mr. Booker is truly the epitome of the online political rockstar. He is doing amazing work and doing groundbreaking social media outreach for an elected official. He is a PR hero.

As a government communicator, he needs to use this internet stardom to build value by supporting and pushing the City of Newark’s social media presence so it can be sustained beyond Mr. Booker. As the Social Media Club mantra goes “If you get, share it.”

If @cityofnewarknj or other 311-type accounts were established, promoted and staffed with the trained people, they could have probably answered this question right away. Instead, as Mr. Booker was heading to a television appearance, he sent Ms. Brown a phone number.

Join us on Wednesday, January 12 at 9 p.m. on Twitter for #localgovchat to discuss personal branding, emergency response among other local government issues.

Originally posted on LocalGovChat.com

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Michael McCarthy, APR

Interesting discussion, and one that applies to more than just social media. You could argue that an elected, strong mayor is “the City.” as far as interaction with residents goes. That the Mayor’s twitter is the City’s twitter. But your point about losing those followers is well taken. Our Mayor does not use Twitter, but our Facebook pages are set up as the position and not the person – so that “friends” will be carried on to the new district commissioner, and residents will not lose a connection to the City as elected commissioners change.

That being said – just looking at the City of Newark’s twitter posts, their followers may be down because of lack of content – they don’t post daily. Also, Cory Booker, because he’s posting as a person and not an institution, may have a much better advantage over the City’s official twitter feed – and that’s individuality and personality that is sometimes hard to convey in an institution’s twitter posts. (so no offence to the City of Newark).

So, I agree, use that big Mayor fan base to push to the City’s twitter – but it did take Cory Booker’s personality as Mayor to attract those followers.

Elliot Volkman

Are we sure Mayor Booker’s personal account really overshadows the @cityofnewark account?

On a daily basis I manage govWin’s brand through the @govwinteam account, but I also tweet related stuff out of my personal one. If both accounts are providing the same support, it shouldn’t make a difference who a person follows. Cory Booker is the current mayor, so it makes sense that the locals want to follow a person rather than a brand. Twitter has never been a place for brands and press releases, it’s about people socializing.

Prime example @BarackObama – Followers 6,309,008. White House – Followers 1,918,378 Both are geared towards providing the same information, but Obama is a face. People would rather connect to faces than brands.

Michael Rupert


Thanks for comment and good points. The issue is when all of the value added by Booker can be gone in a day if he seeks a higher position or does not get reelected. He certainly understands the social aspects of Twitter and Facebook, he should use his ‘community’ to introduce his Newark followers to well-managed and engaged city accounts. A healthy, growing community – maybe not as great in numbers – is much more sustainable and powerful than one-key figure who may or may be there tomorrow. And the Obama/White House ratio is 3-1. The Booker/Newark ratio is 100,000-1. A huge difference.

Michael Rupert


Excellent points and totally agree with his personality. I think it’s how he uses his followers to help Newark for the long-term that I think will be interesting to watch. Thanks for comment!

Elliot Volkman

I think that makes a good bit of sense that he should push who ever manages and tweets on behalf of Newark to follow in his footsteps. The only issue I would assume that results from this is the availability of Mayor Booker. Communications is a difficult thing to teach employees, but many brands don’t really hire people for that. They hire based on familiarity with the tools.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Exactly!!! Thank you for posting this great analysis! I waved a red flag furiously on this early last year…and I think it fell on deaf ears. I am really glad to see a detailed example and hope that we continue to push REALLY HARD on this issue.

Dr. GovLoop

I want to take this further…If Cory Booker wants to be a real baller that has an incredible brand AND puts community first:

1 – Make every day a #FollowFriday with @cityofnewarknj – push people to follow the city account

2 – Introduce the mainstay staffers – the people who’ve been around for years and who will still be faithfully fulfilling the work of Newark citizens after he’s gone – make THEM honored and “famous”

3 – Introduce key community members – same idea as #2, but leverage his position to promote active community members

I could go on, but don’t want to write another blog post here…other tips to leverage his brand on behalf of Newark?

Michael Rupert


Totally agree with you. He is the true epitome of a leader and is probably uniting and inspiring people across Newark and beyond. The issue from a communications standpoint he is putting all of the weight, brand, reputation of the city on his shoulders. If your company, non-profit, government hinges on the success of one person, it’s extremely dangerous. It’s like putting all your money into one stock.

He needs to reinvest this success into the city to ensure – if he leaves – the progress and the new, energized “community
” he has created online can move on and continue to do great things. That is more responsible way to do things. He doesn’t need to change anything he is doing now at all, just add a few strategic additions to his amazing outreach skills.

Michael Rupert

Andrew/Dr. Govloop,

Thanks for the nice comments and love the suggestions. Adding these three items alone could help tremendously in sharing the immense burden he is placing on himself and put government – not just Cory Booker – closer to the people. Love it!

Martha Garvey

And while we’re add it, please tell me WHY I should follow someone on an #FF. I would love to see few people on an #FF list, with more clarity. At my client’s New Media page, we’ve worked hard to explain why you might follow folks.