Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
Are we there YET?
Consistency of message: It is the phrase that media training and other communication experts have preached, pushed, and presented for years. It’s the cornerstone of every campaign, political, marketing or otherwise. So why is it that the four candidates vying for the Republican nomination can’t seem to master that one? You have four multi-millionaires, with several higher degrees to boast, changing messages with every campaign stop.
If you paid attention to each candidate’s closing speech last night, Ron Paul excepted, you heard more than 20 minutes of rambling, hitting every issue from the economy and gas prices to religion and family values. All are great. All are important. But all in a campaign speech, dilutes the message.
Let’s review some campaign slogans that you can’t get out of your mind, even if you tried:
- Just Do It.
- Coke is It.
- Pepsi, the Choice of a New Generation
- When EF Hutton talks, people listen (you have to be older than 35 to remember this one!)
By now you should be asking why I chose every slogan from the 1980s. It’s not because I’m stuck in a time warp. It’s because I heard them so much while growing up, I can’t shake them out of my head. The brand manager was so expert in creating something memorable, timeless and consistent.
When President Obama ran his campaign we heard two words ad nauseam: Hope and Change. Anytime you heard those words, you knew Obama was close, involved or speaking. Flash forward a year later and you see Sarah Palin unable to get it out of her head, when she repeated back, “how is that Hopey Changey thing working out for you?” Regardless of your political affiliation, you have to admit Hope and Change stuck with you, and undoubtedly stuck with voters as they headed to the polls.
Enter Republican Candidates of 2012. None of the candidates are repeating themselves with any message that sticks. They spend their time answering back against each other’s attacks, rather than promoting their positions and platforms. This is why you have candidates spending millions of dollars in campaign advertising, but still only squeaking out a 1-5 point victory in some states.
Consistency breeds trust. Consistency reaffirms your position and lets your followers know where you are, and where you’re going to be. A unified and consistent message that isn’t encumbered with responses to criticism or diluted with other data, is the best way to create a strong following, hold attention, and improve momentum. We’ll continue to watch each candidate take small steps to the victory line, but the journey would move much quicker if any or all find one message to stand behind, stand on, and promote.
So if you are the speech writer for an executive, or are out trying to build a name or brand for yourself, remember: around the time that everyone is starting to get irritated or nauseous from the mere mention of your message, you’ve probably said it enough to be memorable and lasting. This doesn’t mean take all of the meat out of your conversation and just repeat yourself. It means that if I hear you today, and go to hear you two weeks and four weeks from today, I should hear a similar message with the same take away points, so I trust you have a focus, a goal and a plan to get there.
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