Editing the political playbook

Recent political campaigns have sparked a debate on the nature of truth and the spread of misinformation. They also reveal the need to refocus on the basics.There is no denying that this past election season in the United States was one for the record books. The major political parties imploded for the same reasons; their leadership, ideologies, and engagement strategies were out of touch with the changing values of Americans. This allowed for the rise of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and other third party candidates to easily spread their message to voters overlooked by traditional politics and politicians.

As a communications professional, I am most fascinated by how messaging caught fi re and ultimately drove voters to the polls. After reflecting on the national race and the dozens of digital campaigns that I managed in 2016, the answer was painfully obvious. Campaigns and candidates were successful when they kept it simple. They controlled their narrative with clear and concise messaging, embraced technology, social media, and digital advertising to drive decision making, and had a sound understanding of their target audience and the political climate.

I doubt these tactics would surprise even the most junior operative in the industry, yet, when you look at the winners and losers in the campaign cycle, it holds true. The winners did the simple things well and the losers got lost in the matrix. As those of us in the industry work to process the fallout and determine how to best lead our campaigns, companies, and causes through an era of post-truth, alternative facts, and political polarization, I believe that it is more important than ever to edit the political communications playbook to focus on the basics.