Thursday, September 18, 2008

Staying On (A Simple) Message

What the general public sees, understands, and digests is very different from the average political junkie (such as those who read this site)...

In the last election(s) Stephen Harper incorporated Republican strategists and strategies to "keep on message" and ensure the simple message got out. He used some very basic and often repeated phrases:

1) "Tired". Harper repeated "tired government" repeatedly - at every whistle stop, in an attempt to characterize the government of the day as ready to be replaced.

2) "Let me be very clear ________". Highlighting his words to come with that phrase helped bring emphasis to his statements. It also became a little "tired" hearing that very same phrase 10 times a speech (the "braintrust" obviously did not have the creativity or writing skills to change it up)

3) "Make no mistake". A variation on number 2. The Conservatives really didn't have the oratory skills that would make Obama blush... lol... But, still, it helped to frame the point to come, to get everyone leaning in and listening..

What to take away from this? The public at large has a pretty short attention span when flipping through the paper or the 300-channel universe. You need to make your points quickly, succinctly, and with enough clarity that everyone hears you and retains it (if you repeat yourself enough, they will remember it).

What the Cons have managed to do with the Green Shift is no fluke. They knew what it entailed, but simply framed it as "too hard for Canadians to understand" and stuck to that messaging until the very non-investigative media parroted it. This forced our campaign to continue to have to repeat an explanation - eating up valuable cycles of programming time and advert time. All this for a very simple plan that gave everyone an income tax break, and forced polluters to pay.

We have LOTS of time left to simplify and "go for the jugular"... We need to make the soundbyte the "summary" for our clear and well-planned programs. We need to remember that we have maybe 10 or 15 seconds to have an impact on a crowd, and need to keep bringing them back into the "discussion" with more quick quips and points. We don't need some media hack parsing together their version of our speeches and plans - they will invariably find what they want to use and dump the rest. We don't have to "dumb down" our campaign as the Cons have done - we have more respect for Canadians than that - just need to adhere to the KISS (keep it simple stupid) philosophy...

Go get 'em team!

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