Political Consultant Jay Townsend here, with more on the lessons of 2014, what worked and what did not.
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Today a word about that campaign message. As in your message, your slogan, your rationale, or whatever you want to call it.
Great technology, fancy microtgeting and targeted internet ads are not going to save a campaign with a meaningless or incoherent message.
Take for example former U.S. Senator Mark Udall. At a time when people in Colorado wanted to hear about jumpstarting the economy, creating more middle class jobs, fixing Obamacare, and cutting the cost of energy, Senator Udall based his whole campaign on abortion and a phony war on women. It got so bad the state’s leading newspaper called him Udall the Uterus. Colorado voters concluded he was badly out of touch.
How to construct a compelling message? It’s easier said than done which is why so few candidates running for office do it well.
1. Take a measure of the political environment. If your message it irrelevant to the environment in which you are running, it will be irrelevant to the voters deciding your fate.
2. Who is your opponent? Any message that offers an easily understood and compelling contrast with the person you are running against makes the choice easier for the voters. This past year I developed a slogan for a client. Father. Husband. Small business owner. Taxpayer. Job Creator. It worked well. Why? Because his opponent was a young kid who had never been married, never created a job, never raised a child, never held a real job or paid a property tax bill.
When Daniel Patrick Moynihan first ran for the U.S. Senate he was opposed by an incumbent Senator who shunned the spotlight and had accomplished little. Moynihan’s slogan? “You’ll know I’m there.”
3. Don’t be afraid to offer voters a message about your rationale and what you plan to do. It could be as simple as “Safe Streets. Clean Streets. More Parks. Better Playgrounds.”
There is a saying in my profession that is worth repeating, “Great footage will not save a bad script.” A good script will survive bad footage. In other words, before going crazy with all the bells and whistles available in the political marketplace, make sure your message is clear, compelling, memorable and worth repeating.
Stay tuned for more on the art of being a good candidate for public office:
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.
How to win an election:
Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.