Miss America wins new media fans

Heather Lehman takes to Twitter

“My feet are killing me haha!talent tonight…here’s to crossing our fingers for good news!” Heather Lehman, Miss Delaware 2009, wrote on Twitter just a few days before the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas on Jan. 30.

Social media has arrived at the venerable pageant, with its 89th ceremony now shown on TLC, and followers and fans of the event are interacting with the contestants, or, via Twitter, getting a peek into what is going through prospective winners’ heads.

“Everything happens for a reason…right?” Brooke Kilgarriff, Miss Minnesota, wrote in a moment of anticipation on Thursday.

While the statements coming from this year’s contestants are unlikely to be anything impolitic — or even to venture into the partisan area before the final night of the contest on Saturday being directed by an expert in reaching supporters for political campaigns and social causes: Heather Lauer.

She currently spearheads social media for T. Boone Pickens’ energy initiative, the Pickens Plan. On Wednesday, she found herself juggling President Obama’s State of the Union address — watching for what he said about energy — and keeping focused on the pre-show talent competition.

Other than the obvious difference in topics, there is not much of a difference in the outreach to the fan groups, she says. “This is how an organization reaches its base and activates its supporters.”

On Facebook, the pageant linked to a video of a press conference of the show’s judges, which this year include Dave Koz, Paul Rodriguez, Vivica A. Fox and Rush Limbaugh, the latter of whom admitted that he was “intimidated” by the prospect but “as it has gone on I have become much more comfortable with it.” . One commenter saw the posting as an exercise in transparency: “It eases my mind of who will be choosing the next Miss America. I just did not want “MY” pageant :) to be tainted like the Miss USA was last year. I appreciate the powers that be for putting this on.”What Twitter also does is allow fans to see a more candid view of contestants after they have gone through the contest. The former Miss Illinois, Katie Lorenz, tweeted a very un-Rush sentiment last week, noting the death of Howard Zinn. “You taught me that Christopher Columbus was evil and that Good Will Hunting was A-OK.”

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