I attended this session, put on by Democracy for America, because I thought some of the techniques that they use to craft campaign messages for candidates just might translate to online campaigning. And generally, I was right.

“Republicans are consistently better than Democrats at campaign messages.” That’s how this session started. And I suppose I would agree, even though Republicans consistently use deception and cheap shots in those messages (which they talked about later).

The general idea for this session was that campaign messages should always answer the question, “What does this have to do with me?” and should identify why that particular candidate “gets it,’ (whatever “it” may be) and the other candidate doesn’t.

I have to say, I found it ironic that a session on message had such a verbose handout (three pages, front and back), but thankfully he didn’t go through it point-by-point. It in fact did end up having a lot more nitty gritty than the presentation did, which was good.

Two more key points:
– a message is not a biography
– a message is not a set of policy points

I actually take issue with the idea that we have to make our candidate look like, “one of us.” It’s my opinion that the president should not be one of us at all, but should be of extraordinary intelligence, enough so that he or she can figure out the solutions to problems that plague the middle class. But I realize that the American public would prefer to have a president that they can drink a beer with, so I digress.

Then they went into the message box, which I’ll be lazy and just link to, since it seems to me to be for the kind of person who thinks this way.

I suppose the general idea behind this session was to identify your set of policy stances, and make them into values that the general public can understand. This is where the “elitist,” comments come from, and “family values,” etc.

The rest of the session, they showed about 20 commercials for local or national races, and how they framed those particular candidates’ messages. There was an overwhelming prominence of the “I used to be a construction worker,” and “I grew up in a middle class family,” angle, which is hard to tell if it is actually accurate, especially considering how our current president manipulated that angle.

Lastly, and the part that I found to be the most practical, was to try to make your campaign messaging hit the left and the right brain of the listener/viewer. It’s important not to discount emotion in messaging, but also don’t go overboard with it. It’s best to have a balance of straight facts, emotion and memorability. That seems logical to me.

An aside – some of these commercials are so cheesy … maybe it’s a generational thing. 🙂

(As posted on the Care2 Campaigner Blog here…)