Friday, November 5, 2010

Three Quick PR Lessons from the Midterm Elections

The pundits and politicians on both sides of the aisle are trying to draw lessons learned from this week's midterm elections. Based on "lessons" apparently learned the last few election cycles, I think it's fair to say all three parties are drawing the wrong lessons.

But this is not a political blog.

Instead, since this is a PR-focused blog, here are some PR lessons to consider:

1. Differentiation is important to prevent commoditization. But being too different -- Christine O'Donnell -- may not work either.
2. Spending tons of money can make you more competitive by building awareness. But it can take more than money to make a compelling case that closes the deal.
3. Communicating an aspirational vision or one that captures emotion is more compelling than selling the status quo, particularly if the status quo doesn't feel so good. That's why consumer product companies, including auto manufacturers, constantly sell New & Improved versions of the same old products. In 2008, Obama communicated an aspirational message and story. But he wasn't able to do so this year. Meanwhile, this year, the GOP, and the Tea Party in particular, was able to capture anger that resonated and energized its base as well as independents to swing the balance.

I do believe these lessons are applicable for PR functions. Let me know if you think there other lessons we can draw.
Norman Birnbach
Birnbach Communications, Inc.

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