Messaging Lessons from Election Season

We’re coming into election season, and with the sheer volume of eager presidential candidates throwing their hats in the ring for 2020, it’s a fascinating time to watch savvy campaign strategists and managers look at the polls, do the math, pull out their thesauruses, and then craft and test campaign messaging.

Candidates have to nail a message that delivers. And getting it right is just half the battle – the other half is getting it out. As various candidates share their vision for America – and their campaign – they’ll put some basic messaging strategies in play. While politics offer fireworks and drama, these same messaging strategies apply to brands with whom Chartwell works as well.

Develop a Persona

Each candidate is going to have to define his/her political persona and create a message that lives within that context. Is he the warrior for the middle class? Is she the optimist that believes in the American dream? Is he the disrupter of status quo? Is she the experienced stateswoman? Watch as candidates set a tone and develop a personality for their messaging and communications. Then, look for the way they factor that idealized personality into campaign jargon, tactics, and delivery styles.

For brands, this translates into the tone and language they use in formal and informal communications. Whether playful or professional, upbeat or serious, the brand personality should come through in the messaging.

Keep It Simple

Great political messaging isn’t complicated or fussy, especially if it targets a general voting audience. Keep it short and simple – that’s the rule. Resist the urge to wax poetic or expound on philosophy because you’ll lose them. If the crowd can’t chant it back, it’s likely too complex.

For brands, “simple” takes on different meanings whether your target is a health system CIO, a busy mom, an investment manager, a college student or a lead engineer. Brands craft appropriately simple messaging for their segmented audiences.

Maintain Focus

Great political campaigns likely have three to five strong themes on which the majority of their efforts are founded. These primary themes are home base, and the goal is to get to them as early and often as possible. Candidates are most at ease in these themes, and the opposition’s goal is to pull them out of that comfort zone and hope they stumble in less familiar territory. Expertly managing the landmines of the unknown and maintaining focus on the primary campaign theme is a skill that strong candidates cultivate early and often.

Organizations make similar decisions by deciding when to lead, participate or pass on various conversation topics. Knowing whether an opportunity will positively reinforce a key theme or when it’s outside of the focus is part of a good marketing and PR strategy.

Keep at It

You can never repeat yourself too many times in politics. Repetition is key. Bringing topics back to primary themes, repeating campaign messaging and delivering on a persona is the goal of every engagement, every event, and every social media post. Good campaigns show discipline and skill in maintaining a relentless dedication to the message.

We preach the consistency and frequency for our clients as well. We work with them to develop a strategy that offers a variety of platforms and opportunities while maintaining the integrity of the primary messaging.

So, whether you’re considering a presidential run or developing a new service line, the ground floor is messaging. If you don’t have a clear brand message strategy, give us a call. We’ll have them cheering your name in no time.