Staying On Message

This post was written by Ian Bridgeforth. He is a senior Mass Communications major, Political Science & Digital Media double minor at Georgia College & State University. He's a columnist for his university’s award-winning newspaper The Colonnade and has also worked for a number of local and national elected officials. While he does enjoy the world of politics, he is an avid fan and supporter of the fine arts and all things creative. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter (iBridgeforth) or on his website, SpontaneousSpark.com.

Staying on message.

It’s a concept that without a doubt is crucial to the success of any political campaign or career. Repetition is the mother of retention so to make sure that the voters understand what they stand for, politicians and political organizations have create a message that resonates with them and stick to that message. For example, during the 2008 presidential campaign, this administration used “change” as their message. It was a message that became synonymous with the campaign & was a key catalyst into ushering this President into office.

It seems like it’s an easy concept to grasp. But somehow for many, the concept of staying on message is much easier said than done.

Many political campaigns & institutions become so entrenched with the back and forth of mudslinging that they lose sight of what their original goal was. I remember during the  time of the tenacious healthcare debate, this administration for some reason picked a fight with Fox News. While the opposition to the health care bill was hammering their message 24/7 on all fronts, former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn was defending her comments about Fox News network. Now we all know that Fox News has a bias. MSNBC does as well. This is nothing new. So I didn’t understand why this was the time to point that out. Consequently, this fumble, among many other messaging problems, delayed the passage of the administration’s number one item on their domestic agenda for about six months.

In any campaign, it is vital that it rise above the silly bickering, name calling, and blame game, because it does nothing towards staying on message and having that resonate with the target audience. When looking at the history of winning campaigns, there is almost always a specific message that is related with it. Ronald Reagan was known as “The Great Communicator.” Former President Bill Clinton ran on the message of “It’s the economy, stupid.” Yes, every campaign has to push back on its opposition but instead of focusing so much on that, focus on a solid message that is appealing to the people that you are attempting to reach. Everything else should line up behind that message. It’s like Political Campaigning 101. But unfortunately, this is a course that many don’t seem to perform too well in.