Citizen Campaigns That Are Credible

There is a saying, “all politics is local.” Today, the notion of local is not what is used to be. Information flows at the speed of X. What was once the essential Daily Press Briefing is now old news – it has been replaced by a myriad of podcasts, newsletters, e-blasts, and other items. The question is, how do you connect with your audiences? It is even tougher now when they are flooded with sources and busy with the day-to-day. And this is when you need to double-down on the essentials of communication. We find it takes three main things: 1) Achieving Awareness, 2) Making it Relevant, and 3) Creating Trust. This is the focus, and if you do not do this, your message is going to be lost in the sea of irrelevant sameness.

> Achieving Awareness
At the heart of this are two things. First, developing a core identity and message. This involves developing easily identifiable visual and verbal elements that are unique to the campaign. And the second part is using them consistently over time – they need to be repeatable, and the team needs to use them repeatedly. We say this because internal teams often feel the need to “tweak” the look of something or “adjust” the language of something, for some reason (usually because they want to feel they are helping or adding value). The fact is, with communications, consistency always beats creativity. Our mantra is, “you can be 80% right, but you better be 100% consistent.” For example, BMW has had the same “Ultimate Driving Machine” message for years. Is it right? Is it really the ultimate driving machine? I am sure Bugatti, Ferrari or Lamborghini could argue the point. But it is the BMW message, and they adhere to it consistently and it has taken on equity. Another great example is the “See Something. Say Something.” campaign from Homeland Security. The team identified a phrase that was eminently repeatable. And they repeated it.

> Making it Relevant
The next part is making sure your message is relevant to your audiences. It must address their concern or need. As it turns out, an Ultimate Driving Machine is what BMW owners want. They don’t want luxury/performance (Cadillac) or Quality and Reliability (Ford) or all-out power (like those Dodge Hellcats). This may seem like subtle thing in positioning and messaging, but it is the little things that matter to people. And it is the little things that make people like Coke over Pepsi, or Keebler over NABISCO, or Burger King over McDonalds. Ensuring you have a relevant message that addresses your audience’s needs and values is critical.

> Finally, You Must Create Trust
This involves looking and speaking with credibility. So many times, we find clients have a good message but they present it in a way where it does not look like it is from a credible source. Or their visual presentation looks wonderful, but their messaging is difficult to understand, or too complex, or (as we know) they use too many buzz words or acronyms which makes them seem difficult. The key here is to stop doing the thing that makes you seem less trustworthy – like making questionable claims, or being too complex. Here, the general rule is, if you don’t look “put together,” or professional, you are not going to be perceived as trustworthy.



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