Just as the late-night comedians do, PR professionals LIVE for election season. And, we love it for the same reason: content. Simply put, no other time of the year offers as many cautionary tales of poorly timed announcements, things better left unsaid, quotes taken out of context and full-on gaffes.
So, what PR and strategic communication lessons have we learned from recent weeks’ activities?
- Slow down. Make sure you have all the facts before making any definitive statements and check your sources.
- Take the high road. Avoid the temptation to strike even when you smell blood in the water. Being too
aggressive can often backfire.
- Don’t pander. This may be the hardest lesson of all for candidates. Don’t try to be something you’re not, as doing so makes you look deceitful and disingenuous in the long-run. Beat the competition by embracing your strengths, not trying to be all things for all people.
- Sometimes it’s best to be quiet. This one is self-explanatory.
- Break your own bad news. If there’s something negative looming, it is always better to break the news yourself at a time and in a way of your choosing. Don’t wait for someone to force you into reactive mode.
- The camera is always rolling, and the media never stops. In today’s fast-paced media world everything you say and do can be shared with millions instantly. Don’t say or do anything you wouldn’t want on the record.
- If you make a mistake, admit it. People who rush to judgment can sometimes also be the first to forgive. Let them forgive you.
- Focus on the audiences that matter most. Just as candidates campaign most heavily in the swing states, you should focus your marketing efforts where they can have the greatest impact.
- Watch your tone and body language. Sometimes it really is not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it.
- Communicate in sound bytes. Clear, simple and direct statements are much more quotable, memorable and make a greater impression.
By following these simple rules, you can save yourself, your company or your campaign a lot of wasted time and energy. You might also help win the day.