When running for office, campaigns are like a keynote address.
Recently I attended a conference. On the first day the keynote speaker talked for almost 60 minutes. Speakers normally utter 140 words a minute. Which means he used nearly 9000 words during the hour that he talked. The next day I could not find one person who could remember the central point of his speech. In fact, few could remember anything.
Campaigns are like a keynote address. They should have a central point and a central message that is memorable.
Like the keynoter I mentioned, Hillary Clinton has uttered a lot of words over the past year. She has proposed dozens of programs, and given hundreds of speeches. But ask 40 of your best friends why she wants the job or what she’ll do if she gets the job and you’ll get a lot of blank stares.
There is a lesson here for anybody running for office, or anybody who may someday run for office. Learn from Mrs. Clinton’s mistakes. Which started with her first of several campaign slogans. None of them compelling.
- The first slogan was “Hillary.” Sorry. Voters don’t care about you. They care about what you are going to do for them.
- Then came “Breaking every barrier.” Sorry. Voters don’t care about your barriers. They want to know what you’ll do to break down their barriers.
- And after that came the slogan “Stronger Together.” What does that mean?
- Lately we have heard the slogan “I’m with her.” Ok, so she is a woman who is not Donald Trump. Not exactly a compelling vision for the most powerful nation on earth.
Her second problem? She is so far into the weeds with her niche marketing and niche appeals that no one has a clear picture of her vision for the country.
Put too many details and too many niche appeals into your campaign and you’ll find that no one will hear your central point or your core message. Worse, you’ll sound like a candidate who does little but pander to every special interest group in the land.
As you develop your campaign strategy, think like someone who is going to deliver a keynote address. Ask yourself what you want your audience to remember six months after your speech. If you are a candidate, ask yourself what central point you want voters to remember at the end of the campaign. If you don’t, you will find at the end of the day that no one remembers anything you said, no matter how many words you use.
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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
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