There are two important needs in any political campaign:
- What is your “message”; and
- How do you communicate that message?
First of all, What is your “Message.”
- A politician must craft a message about what he/she is all about, what he/she stands for, and a conglomeration of short descriptions of the issues and solutions that form his/her “platform.”
- These may be simple catchy phrases, such as, “Make America Great Again,” “Lock Her Up!” or “Yes We Can!” By themselves, the little phrases are very general and don’t mean very much, but they are easy to remember and are clearly tagged to a specific candidate. And they can easily be put on bumper stickers, posters, campaign buttons, etc.
- But there
is a caution to such short, catchy phrases – they can be dangerous.
- An example of this was in the fictional TV Series “West Wing.” During the episode that featured a presidential debate, Governor Ritchie (the challenger) was asked whether now was the time to cut taxes. His response was, “You bet it is. The people know how to spend their money better than the Federal government does.”
- President Bartlett responded by saying,, “There it is! Those are the ten words my staff has been looking for during the last two weeks. But in political campaigns, ten words can kill you. They’re the tip of the sword. and often are accompanied by body counts. So here’s my question. What are your NEXT ten words? Give me the NEXT ten words and I’ll drop out of the race. America is just too big for simple ten-word answers. I’m the President of the United States – NOT the President of the people who agree with me.”
Second, How do you Communicate that Message?
Ways of communicating this message involve the use of technology, such as:
- Written essays (the way things were done back in Washington and Jefferson’s time),,
- Newspaper editorials (useful when people used to read newspapers),
- Town hall meetings,
- Door to door visits,
- Hand shaking events in restaurants,
- Targeting specific voting areas (like Iowa, New Hampshire, etc.)
- Appearing on cable news talk shows
- TV Advertisements,
- Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Assistance of a foreign government to spread false rumors about your opponent (a new and sinister twist on the use of social media)
- Fake news (manipulating the hypothesis in a logical argument to encourage people to draw conclusions that are simply wrong).
On balance, the use of the Communications skills and Technology skills go hand in hand in a political campaign. Figuring out WHAT to say (things that can be easily remembered and attributed), HOW to use the appropriate technology to communicate the message, and WHEN and WHERE to communicate your message are the keys to success.