You can be forgiven if you had better things to do for the last two nights than watch the Democrat presidential debates on CNN.
It was the same tired, old talking points. Liberal dogma mixed with a healthy dose of Trump-hate. Yawn.
But from a strategic communications stand-point I did notice something in particular from many of the candidates that had me saying “ugh.”
Then I read my friend Rich Galen’s post-debate analysis last night and he hit on the same topic.
Here’s what Rich, one of the sharpest political communications guys in the biz, wrote…
“Something candidates should lose is having an example of a family member, a friend, someone they met on the campaign trail, or in a Starbucks that helps make their point. That has become the debate version of the special guests in the gallery at a State of the Union address. It has paled with overuse since Ronald Reagan introduced Lennie Skutnick in 1982.”
Sure, using a real-life example to personify an issue can be and has been extremely effective in the past. But like anything else, too much of a good thing is bad.
And politicians have over-used the tactic to the point of it now coming off as nothing but a cynical, manipulative political ploy. It’s lost its punch. It comes off as phony. It’s not believable.
The exact opposite of what you want to achieve.
Yes, you should still use examples and personal stories in your campaign communications.
Just understand that you now need to do an extra bit of work to make sure your audience believes the story is genuine and relevant and not just a cheap political trick.
Dr. Chuck Muth, PsD
Professor of Psephology*
* Psephology (pronounced see-follow-gee): The study of campaigns and elections