Who knew that a little exposure to how political campaigns get press would equip someone with the social media savvy to get a network-television show off the ground and trending?
That's what Kerry Washington said during a recent interview with Adweek. She'd been a surrogate for then-Sen. Barack Obama's bid for the presidency and saw how social media launched his campaign into the stratosphere.
Without wanting to appear pushy, she asked Shonda Rhimes to encourage the Scandal cast to get Twitter accounts—if they didn't already have them—and blitz social media with their presence as the show rolled out.
"I knew from my work on the Obama campaign how vital social had been to our being able to elect President Obama," she explained. "I came across an article about the most-tweeted-about shows, sent it to Allison [Peters] and said, 'I want Scandal to be on this list next year,' " Washington said, referring to her friend and social media manager. "And she said, 'In order to accomplish that, probably everybody on the show should be on Twitter.' "
Then came getting Rhimes on board.
"I was really aware of the dynamics of being what they call a 'No. 1' on a call sheet. I've never wanted to come across as bossy or abuse that position with my castmates or with the crew. So I called Shonda and said, 'If you ask the crew to go on Twitter, then they'll do it because you are our boss.'
"She loved that idea and she didn't demand, but she encouraged everyone to do it—and of course, because she's Shonda Rhimes, everybody did," Washington went on. "We have this show that we were really passionate about, and the truth was the network had only given us a limited [first] season, and we wanted to do what we could on a grassroots level to promote the show because we were so proud of it."
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.