Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Before Stiletto~ing Out the Door, Know Which Direction To Go

In both fashion and politics, doing your research is critical before stepping on the red carpet or sending out that first piece of political direct mail.

“Before the first speech, the first commercial, or the first handshake comes research. Nothing is more important or more powerful than knowing what the public is thinking and how these thoughts are shaping their decisions.” -Rainmaker, Inc.

After completing my first Primary campaign cycle at Rainmaker, Inc., I realized just how imperative public opinion research is to campaign message formation. While you may look great on the boob tube, you might not be discussing the right issues or have the right stances that will appeal to voters. If obtaining information about the the needs, wants, and desires of the general public wasn’t important, would thousands of polls be conducted across the United States and the world on a daily basis? It seems every type of business and news channel is conducting daily polling, from CNN to Elle Magazine to Cheerios.

Adlai Stevenson said, “The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal - that you can gather votes like box tops - is, I think, the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.” But image sells, if you craft it correctly.

I can’t help but bring up a Sex and the City episode where Carrie spent way too much on a pair of Manolos so she would be at least as tall as Big’s fiancee, Natasha. Just like Carrie did her research, don’t we all before we walk out into the spotlight? We must know the arena we are stiletto-ing into before we step in. Yet at the same time, evoking an emotional appeal to our audience, be it Mr. Big or the general public, is critical for success.

Compare and contrast former President Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign TV spots with Senator John Kerry’s, what comes to mind? Clinton evoked more emotional response than Kerry, hands down. His campaign manager combined all the research findings, then hooked Americans with association networks of hope and the “American Dream.”

According to Abraham Lincoln, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”

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