Monday, July 26, 2004

Conventional Wisdom

So, today the DNC kicks off in Boston. For both the elephants and the donkeys it’s a long (some say too long) exercise in staying on message.

The Dems talking points will be largely absent of anti-Dubya comments. They figure they’ve already spent a good deal of time ripping the president’s policies, and that now is the time to:

1. Talk about Mr. Kerry’s vision for America (rather than what Mr. Bush is doing wrong), and;
2. Above all else, for the love of Pete, be “optimistic.”

This strategy makes sense for a few reasons. First, the Kerry camp picked up on Howard Dean’s success in bashing the president on Iraq, the economy and a host of other policy issues. This was done to “energize the base.” However, right or wrong, a candidate can only lob so many verbal hand grenades at the incumbent before the public turns sour on the tactic.

For the convention and moving forward, the Dems have scrapped the vitriol in favor of discussing what Kerry plans to do for the country, should he be elected to become the most powerful man in the world. And as a general rule, it’s best to sound “optimistic” when applying for a job.

The Bushies, meanwhile, won’t stand by idly. They have dispatched to Boston a team dedicated to dispelling just about everything Camp Kerry says at the convention. Their job is really twofold:

1. Repeatedly criticize Kerry’s voting record (without being viscous), and;
2. Use the words “liberal” and “Massachusetts” together in the same sentence as often as possible with discussing Kerry’s voting record.

From a PR perspective, it’s fascinating to watch interviews on various channels and have everyone on a given side saying EXACTLY the same thing. Whether or not you fancy politics, it’s a good lesson for businesses of all sizes.

If everyone on your team is consistent with the company messaging, there will be no marketplace confusion or embarrassing “clarifications” necessary in new business deals or to the press. And the only way to get everyone on the same page is to practice, practice, practice.

Media training is a good place to start. There’s a reason why politicians hire savvy media experts to advise their campaigns: it works.

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