Now that the dust has settled from the Presidential election, what if any public relations lessons can be learned from this marathon campaign?
Messaging for the Democratic Party was easy. Hey, the current President has the lowest approval rating in history. Elect their guy and you’ll get four more years of the same thing. Isn’t it time for a change?
Messaging for the Republicans was a bit more difficult. “It’s time to reform government”. OK but aren’t you guys already controlling the government?
“Yes, but we’re mavericks.” All right, but haven’t you been a senator for around 30 years?
When the mavericks idea went South they came up with two other themes. “Our opponent is going to spread the wealth” and the “Joe the Plumber” saga.
Both of these strategies seemed to resonate for a while but when the economy headed for collapse a large portion of the electorate seemed to stop listening.
It’s hard to pay attention to the controlling power in the White House if you’re losing your house, getting laid off, or paying $4 for a gallon of gasoline. Rightly or wrongly the Republican candidate got thrown into the barrel with the current administration. Does anyone really want another four years of this stuff?
The real marketing/PR lesson to learn from this election is not how to message or what to message, but rather how to connect with young people. You see this race provided a record turnout among voters in their teens and twenties.
Most of these young people don’t have standard telephones. To reach them you need to contact them via cell or email. They aren’t listed in the Yellow Pages. In fact catching up to them can be pretty challenging.
Research indicates they made-up some 20 per cent of the electorate. If that’s the case what is going to happen in four years, in eight years?
Soon 30 per cent of all voters soon will have never had a land line phone. Amazing. The real challenge for political strategists, and for marketers in general, will be how to connect with this audience.
The bottom line…In 2008 the Democrats created a perception of younger and hipper (and had the perfect candidate for it). They did a far better job of getting to the younger growing voter audience than the Republicans. That alone isn’t what won the election but will provide many analytical, if not sleepless nights ahead for those seeking higher office.