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I often mention here I'm a marketing/advertising guy. I say it because it directly shapes how I view the world in more ways than I care to admit. What is the phrase, when you are a hammer everything looks like a nail. Well when I encounter a business or even political problem I tend to view it as a marketing and/or messaging problem first and foremost. Maybe a little sad, but just how I roll.

Now with that little intro I often find our elected Democrats and talking heads/political consultants don't get Messaging 101. Heck I'd argue it is the #1 issue in our inability to get a more progressive agenda passed (yes more than the Party of No or "Blue Dogs"). I've gone through and looked at a lot of the Kos/Research 2000 polls the past several months and in almost every instance a large percentage of the public favors our policies (even if they don't realize it), so I have to think we have a serious messaging problem that we can't get more of them passed.

So I'm going to get "geeky" and talk about messaging for a few Diaries because it is something I know a lot about and something we're not doing well.


The most important things to understand about messaging are you have to keep it simple stupid. The message must speak to the pain of the target audience. And the message needs to be repeated time and time again.

Keeping It Simple Stupid (KISS)

Whenever I work with clients this is the most painful part of the marketing process. Clients want to be everything to everyone. In an ad they want to say their product is cost effective. Easy to use. Increases productivity. Stellar customer support. That may all be true, but you only have a few seconds to catch the attention of the target audience and you need to focus on one core message.

IMHO this is where we ran into problems with health care reform. We can all recall somebody on MSNBC running off all the benefits: no preexisting conditions, no cap on lifetime benefits, 30+ million more Americans will have access, lower costs across the board, exchanges, tax breaks for small businesses, kids can stay on their parents plan until 26, close the drug loophole, and it will lower the deficit.

How could that be more not simple for the "average" American that isn't a political junkie like those of us here?

It is everything and the kitchen sink approach to messaging. I am sure their polling and focus groups highlighted that this percentage of the population favored this part of the bill. Another group this part. So just mention them all in a long compound sentence and you make everybody happy. Well not so much.

Effective messaging just doesn't work this way. Never has and never will. When you try to appeal to anybody and everybody you fail.

Ad agencies and marketing firms have different terms they use, but pretty much every project has what is called a Creative Brief or a Creative Input Summary. It outlines the scope of the project. The target audience. All kinds of things. But the most important item included is called the Single Most Compelling Message. The single message that the marketing item is supposed to convey. There can be Secondary Support Points, but it is just one message. Not two, five, or ten. One message.

If I was hired by the DNC to consult on their messaging there is no question I'd rather hear the response to then, what was your Single Most Compelling Message for HCR? A close second would be what is the Single Most Compelling Message for keeping Democrats in control of the House and Senate in the midterms? I am 99% sure if I asked ten high-profile elected Democrats none could give me a consistent, direct answer.

And of course that is a problem. A huge problem.

Talk To The Pain Of Your Target Audience

Call it fear if you want, but talking to the pain of your target audience is a powerful messaging tool. Whenever I am stuck trying to get the Single Most Compelling Message from a client I ask them what keeps their prospects up at night in a cold sweat and how would your product or service alleviate that pain?

The Democrats should be asking the same question when they are trying to develop a message to promote their policies. How will this specific policy reduce their pain? Make them sleep better at night? Alleviate their pain and fears?

With HCR we did a pretty good job with this, cause the whole topic is based around pain pretty much 24/7. But I think with things like Cap & Trade, financial reform, DADT, and Immigration we could do a much better job.

I think we all know how good the Republicans are at playing the "fear card." They get messaging to fear and pain works. They are masters at it. Let’s take "Death Panels" as a key example. It played to the ultimate fear and pain. Our response (when it eventually came) was based on both a logical and factual argument. Not the pain of their loved ones health care plan not providing/paying for end of life consulting. A very powerful message only a few people used (like Keith on Countdown) to our advantage.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

When a client asks me my definition of effective marketing I say:

Delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. Again, again, and again.

The research varies but the "average" American is exposed to more than 4,000 advertising messages a day. About the only way you can get away from somebody trying to market you something is to hide in a dark closet under some dirty cloths. There is a lot of "noise" out there so to break through the clutter you have to repeat what you want to convey time and time again.

It is also estimated that you have to expose somebody to a message at least 5-7 times before it starts to resonate. But you might have to say it 25 times to reach that person 5-7 times (it is about reach and frequency -- but we'll save that for another Diary).

I respect Frank Luntz from a professional point-of-view because he gets everything I've said here. He is very good at what he does, even if I don't agree with his politics. But the simple question is who in our party is doing what he does? Nobody I am aware of.

He puts together messaging documents, sends them out to the GOP faithful, and they start to own the terms of the debate. The catch phrases they want to use, with the meaning they want attached to them. Every Republican repeats them almost word for word on every media outlet they can get on. It is brilliant and effective. It is also Messaging 101.

Now I know a few of you are thinking at this point, well we're better than that. Why would we want to act like the Republicans. Let me be clear I am not remotely suggesting we lie, I am saying we need to be more focused and have much better message discipline. We need to use strategies and tactics that are proven. That when done correctly work.

Of course I'd prefer we didn't have to use these types of strategies and tactics. That instead we could have Lincoln/Douglas style debates. But alas that is not the world we live in. Just wishing it wasn't so won't change things.


Marketing for the DNC and our party in general shouldn't be considered rocket science. Of course tough decisions have to be made and I can only assume getting all the Democrats on the same page would be like herding cats.

But we have the resources and tools we need. Marketing is hard when you don't have the money to spend on paid media or free access to media outlets close to 24/7. Really, really hard if your product sucks. But we have access to money, media outlets, and our product doesn't in fact suck. So there is just no excuse we don't do a better job selling our vision for the nation.

When I read Crashing The Gate I had a lot of takeaways, but one far more than anything else jumped up at me. Why do so many people in our party keep hiring political consultants that lose elections more often then they win? I asked myself time and time again (and still do) why the heck the DNC doesn't hire a consumer marketing firm?

I know this may seem like a strange suggestion, but we use billion dollar consumer marketing firms to produce ads for military recruitment, the Census, and countless Public Service Announcements (just to name a few programs). More times than not they are very effective in their efforts.

Heck there are firms that don't even produce ads or direct mailers, all they do is help organizations develop messaging platforms. And again, they are very good at what they do (although not cheap). Do any of us really think if they can develop a successful message platform to sell hamburgers or a sports drink they couldn't also do something very compelling to help promote something as important as Immigration Reform, DADT, or Cap & Trade?

There is no doubt they could. And IMHO it is high-time the DNC hires one of these firms and gets a coherent messaging platform in place. It takes time to be done correctly, maybe too late for the mid-term elections, but we need to engage some firm to help us sooner rather than later. Because what we have now just isn't cutting it.

Originally posted to webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:01 PM PDT.

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  •  Tip Jar (300+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jm1963, Renee, JekyllnHyde, Davinci, cdreid, chrississippi, itsbenj, miasmo, Geenius at Wrok, lost, BigOkie, mlharges, WWGray, kpardue, hyperstation, VetGrl, azale, frisco, mataliandy, scribe, opinionated, 88kathy, Wee Mama, SamSinister, MD patriot, pattym922, metal prophet, greengrrl, oceanview, fumie, semiot, splashy, dejavu, psnyder, CalbraithRodgers, Steveningen, khowell, Catte Nappe, grrr, riverlover, econlibVA, mungley, Lefty Mama, murrayewv, rapala, Fabian, chumley, 3goldens, Treg, NoMoreLies, el dorado gal, blueyedace2, JanetT in MD, Oddball, panicbean, drewfromct, bleeding blue, ladybug53, lotlizard, Little Lulu, blue jersey mom, deep, SBandini, noemie maxwell, shiobhan, northanger, Eileen B, JanL, Land of Enchantment, jiml, Jim P, maryru, begone, reddbierd, dehrha02, Nowhere Man, buddabelly, Hirodog, snazzzybird, BachFan, BalanceSeeker, PsychicToaster, ravenwind, ferallike, mr crabby, cookseytalbott, buhdydharma, mveit, deha, Magnifico, arlene, Son of a Cat, triv33, MJ via Chicago, agnostic, Rachel in Vista, arbiter, Crashing Vor, imabluemerkin, NearlyNormal, gabriella, boatsie, think blue, ebohlman, lazybum, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, kurt, revgerry, Temmoku, ipsos, Thinking Fella, seabos84, dotsright, donnamarie, wonderama, Loudoun County Dem, Femlaw, blue armadillo, camlbacker, possum, gloriana, linkage, Alfonso Nevarez, yoduuuh do or do not, FishOutofWater, dotcommodity, Matt Z, NoMoJoe, artisan, HCKAD, eashep, vbdietz, Newzie, millwood, pioneer111, Wreck Smurfy, yella dawg, Brahman Colorado, ImpeachKingBushII, A Person, Prof Haley, cacamp, willb48, South Park Democrat, Empower Ink, MKinTN, alkalinesky, JayC, mayrose, Scioto, OleHippieChick, indyada, Fiona West, angel65, skohayes, filby, slapper95, lineatus, Pegasus, jamess, Therapy, Greasy Grant, monkeybrainpolitics, pamelabrown, left my heart, kempsternyc, Jacques, o the umanity, DixieDishrag, BYw, legendmn, satanicpanic, maggiejean, SciMathGuy, in2mixin, Leftcenterlibertarian, Rick Aucoin, RNinOR, greengemini, Clarknt67, lostinamerica, DynamicUno, An Affirming Flame, Michael James, Mislead, pvlb, mkor7, Daily Activist, MKSinSA, CityLightsLover, mdmslle, Muzikal203, Little Flower, reesespcs, nancat357, vcthree, NThenUDie, chin075, susan in sc, Amber6541, ppl can fly, hillgiant, confitesprit, awcomeon, icemilkcoffee, miss SPED, budr, Vacationland, breathe67, Susan from 29, amk for obama, jethrock, SmartAleq, angelajean, tubacat, No Looking Back, Simple, legalchic, gulfgal98, juturna, Kristina40, Cure7802, debbieleft, addisnana, Casual Wednesday, roystah, alamacTHC, science nerd, Oh Mary Oh, nosleep4u, ParkingMeter, dwayne, cany, kktlaw, Colorado is the Shiznit, Montreal Progressive, sfcouple, atheistben, sabo33, Mr MadAsHell, Amayi, BlueJessamine, m00finsan, ardyess, BlackQueen40, Seitanist, FarWestGirl, asterkitty, AngelCole, gravlax, Aranfell, BellaNJ, thethinveil, boophus, marleycat, Lorikeet, dle2GA, danmitch, smoothnmellow, beka, Flaming Liberal for Jesus, merrily1000, tardis10, MPociask, createpeace, Vtdblue, IL JimP, Canuck in Ohio, zapus, SilentBrook, Strange New World, Miggles, SoCalSal, SteelerGrrl, Sunspots, ADAY, ctkosh, RLMiller, StepLeftStepForward, moonpal, Huginn and Muninn, Regina in a Sears Kit House, ChiTownDenny, MichaelNY, AguyinMI, PrometheusUnbound, Azazello, DawnN, lightshine, alkaline9, James Robinson, nutbutter, JTinDC, sow hat, damfino, We Won, Eric Nelson, barkingcat, AnnieR, West Michigan Dem

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:01:25 PM PDT

  •  Hope You Find This Somewhat Interesting (77+ / 0-)

    It is something I do for a living. Something I hope I know a little about. Something I find very interesting to think/talk about. Also something I think our party could do a much better job with if they thought about it a little more often.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:03:14 PM PDT

  •  The public may favor our policies, but ... (38+ / 0-)

    it's not clear whether we favor our policies. (And by we, I mean the Democrats in both houses of Congress.)

    It's hard to get consistent in your messaging if you're not really committed to the policies you want to be thought to be advocating.

    "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

    by Demi Moaned on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:13:53 PM PDT

  •  I bow generally in your direction (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dwayne, SteelerGrrl, James Robinson

    and not a  bit like one discussing how two african swallows could carry cocoanuts across the english channel in tandem.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:14:39 PM PDT

  •  I always appreciate (15+ / 0-)

    when experts weigh in on how their areas can improve progressive politics.  This is one of the best features of a large community such as this.

    I've never quite been comfortable, however, with the dominant Netroots viewpoint that Democratic insiders are a bunch of incompetent boobs who wouldn't know PR from their own asses.  Really?  It never occurred to the those who rose to the top of the majority party organizational structure -- a party featuring a heavily disproportionate number of well-educated citizens from the so-called creative-class disciplines -- that messaging is important?  I just don't buy it.

    I think there are more fundamental, structural reasons for the Democrats' apparent lack of message discipline, the most important of which is that the party is a diverse, unwieldy, ideologically heterogeneous coalition.

    I don't care about your farm or mafia! Oh wait -- wrong forum.

    by cardinal on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:18:27 PM PDT

  •  An important topic, to be sure (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, jiml, Matt Z, filby, addisnana

    We badly need the kind of message discipline the Republicans have. Thanks for bringing this up - we need to keep talking about it until our party gets a clue and stops allowing the Republicans to control information dissemination. Our message will resonate with voters, if only we can break through the noise machine and get it to them!

    On a related note, I found this article by George Lakoff to be quite thought-provoking. It's going on the reading list next time I teach argumentation.

    "What's dictatorship by the majority called again??? Oh yeah -- DEMOCRACY!" ---Eclectablog's friend Abby

    by deha on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:18:46 PM PDT

  •  Test campaign: (9+ / 0-)

    "Wall Street speculators knocked out a quarter of the value of your pension.  The Democrats' bill can help stop that from happening again."

  •  I do not think the "outrage card" works (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, SteelerGrrl

    I think we have seen how the fear card works, but the "be outraged at wall street" or "be outraged at rich people" is not as effective.

    Democrats tend to use the "outrage card" and it doesn't seem to work much outside of the base.

    I think most people in the US want to be rich and successful, so trying to demonize them is never going to be a very effective strategy.

    •  there is a 'strength' card (8+ / 0-)

      that we do not know how to play, or play at all.  We play the victim card--often covered by the outrage card---but it's not inspiring.

      Republicans are great with the 'fear' card, yes.  But they also have the strength one down in terms of message strategy, and that's why they often get people to support them, even against those people's own interests.

      How can we turn equality, humanity, general be-nice-to-everybody sentiments into something that feels strong and powerful?  If we can do that, we may have a winning strategy.

    •  I Never Used The Word Outrage Once (9+ / 0-)

      I used fear and pain. The consumer protection agency. You don't directly same credit card companies or banks. You play to the fear you miss a payment by a day and your rate goes from 18% to 29%. Or you use your debit card to buy a cup of coffee, overdraw your account my .01 and get hit with $75 in fees.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:25:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Chk the comment history, webranding n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        2laneIA, skohayes

        "....Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own... Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?"

        by LeftOverAmerica on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:28:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Very good examples, webranding. I would (3+ / 0-)

        say those examples in an ad would put people in touch with their fear and pain. Also their anger and indignation, their sense of unfairness, in many cases. But I accept your experience and your argument that the key thing to focus on is speaking to people's fear and pain.

        It should be noted, though, that the Right has played to resentment very successfully in the last several decades. The stereotype of the affluent, coast-dwelling, latte-sipping, French wine swilling liberal who looks down on plain working Americans from the heartland -- that has been a big success at times.

        Also, the Southern Strategy, with its coded appeals to racism, depended a whole lot on the resentment and dissatisfaction of working class and lower-middle class whites, especially in the South. That brought about a powerful and lasting political realignment that we're still trying to counteract.

        I don't think Democrats should play much to resentment; it's not good for the country.  However, focusing resentment against Wall Street and against the excessive tax breaks given to the rich -- that strikes me as a legitimate approach, that would allow Dems to pass legislation that IS good for the country. And it's imminently reasonable. Those who refuse to pay anything approaching their fair share should be resented.  

        •  I Can't Speak To Resentment Marketing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I really can't. Of course you are right it is used. But I don't have any experience there. I read the marketing/advertising/interactive trade publications, not so much the political science publications.

          But with that said marketing is marketing. The same strategies and tactics you use to sell a $100,000 Cisco data networking switch is the same as a bottle of water. The same for a policy.

          I just don't have an experience using hate and resentment in my marketing (thank God!).

          "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

          by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:36:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let's not play the hate card. (0+ / 0-)

            Nor would I focus on resentment in most cases. Where ordinary people are often voting against their own interests out of confusion, and where the opposition really is seriously damaging the country (like the stunningly irresponsible financial elite that nearly took us into a global depression) -- I would willingly wake up people's natural resentment of those who threaten their wellbeing and their children's future.

            But even there, it should be with the assumption that we have no problem with rich people who care about their country and are willing to do their share.

    •  Most people outside of the far left (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      don't hate the rich the way that some people here do. That's something that people here don't understand.

    •  another option (0+ / 0-)

      is simply to play the 3 of clubs.

    •  Outrage doesn't work, but resentment sure does (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Outrage implies that there is an injustice that needs to be righted. Let's face it, most people are selfish little cowards. They only care about righting injustice when it happens to themselves or people who look like them.
      Now resentment of the 'other' works every time. Just make an ad showing how much bonuses the Wall St CEO's are making while their corporations caused the biggest recession in 50 years, and costed billions in tax payer bailouts. And then show how the GOP is siding with the Wall St lobbies to kill financial reforms. I bet you'd have a platform. YOu see- you have to induce resentment. People's sense of hatred of the 'other' is far stronger than their sense of sympathy.

  •  Good points (4+ / 0-)

    But we still need to get our points across, and the corporate media tends to stand in our way.  I mean, how many times to I need to see John McCain on Meet the Press or live coverage of a Sarah Palin speech or hours of airtime devoted to the latest poorly-attended Tea Party event.

    When Bush was president, they had no trouble getting their message across because it was the message the corporate media wanted us to hear.  Demonstrations from the left got scant airtime and what airtime they got tended to portray them as (at best) misguided Quixotics.  You can bet that if Omaba's limo was egged on inauguration day (as Bush's was) we'd still be hearing about it.  Now that the left is in charge, the GOP still gets their message across because it is the message the corporate media wants us to hear.

    veritas vos liberabit

    by WWGray on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:22:03 PM PDT

    •  I disagree (4+ / 0-)

      When Bush was president, they had no trouble getting their message across because it was the message the corporate media wanted us to hear.

      I don't think that's the biggest part of it. The Republicans knew how to get their message to the media in such a way that the media had to do very little work (translation: spend very little money) to deliver it. They went to the media with prebuilt stories that could be run almost unchanged.

      The left, OTOH, expected the media to come to them. Covering a protest means sending out a crew and then trying to make the footage into a story. Today's media are reactive, not proactive. That's not mostly due to ideology; it's mostly due to greed. They have no incentive to spend time and money covering one side of a story if the other side is handing their coverage to them on a silver platter.

      That's why the media devote so much time to celebrity/entertainment coverage: All the expensive work is done by the celebrities' publicists and the entertainment companies, not by the media organizations.

      If Nixon was cocaine for the resentful psyche, Palin is meth—Andrew Sullivan

      by ebohlman on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:01:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good points. I often feel that the Democrats (4+ / 0-)

        aren't getting their most recognizable figures to spend enough time on news shows, interviews, etc.

        When something big happens, like HCR coming to a vote, the Republicans are out there in a swarm, stating their message over and over, framing the debate. With Democrats in the White HOuse, I'm pretty sure that most media would be as willing to talk to a Democratic Senator as a Republican one. Yet there aren't as many Democrats visible as Republicans.

        And as Webranding says, their messages are less well-honed.

        •  So maybe we need to do more street theater (0+ / 0-)

          Not heavy serious but theater with buried themes and memes. Theater that doesn't seem partisan but seems just to be people that the watchers could agree with... at least those who aren't eliminationists or bongoo dodo for brains types.

          Fear is the Mind Killer

          by boophus on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 11:59:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well (6+ / 0-)

    IMHO this is where we ran into problems with health care reform. We can all recall somebody on MSNBC running off all the benefits: no preexisting conditions, no cap on lifetime benefits, 30+ million more Americans will have access, lower costs across the board, exchanges, tax breaks for small businesses, kids can stay on their parents plan until 26, close the drug loophole, and it will lower the deficit.

    I agree with you on the issue of messaging. The problem here is that, during the HCR reform effort, the key stakeholders on the pro-reform side had no message. For months on end the right dominated the airwaves with their lies. As early as January-February 2009 the right wing front groups were airing their ends. For months on end their lies went unchallenged. I didn't see any pro-reform ads until the summer. By then the right had already framed the debate on their terms. At that point, well before the debates of the fall, well before Scott Brown won in MA, it was clear to me that whatever bill did pass would be weak.

    The HCR effort also suffered from bad messaging. The word "public option" was a horrible term to use. The word "public" represented "government" to most people and most people have a negative view of government. The right was also successful in making the primary beneficiaries of the "public option" and HCR in general as "those people" (i.e., the "poor, fat, uneducated unemployed single black woman on welfare in the inner-city with five children and one child on SSI"). When that happened passing any meaningful was difficult.

    The right used the same playbook from 1993 effectively. As I said in other posts here, while most people hate their insurance companies, they hate the government even more. All the right had to do was conjure up images of having to report to Soviet-style buildings staffed with indifferent, lazy, and/or hostile bureaucrats whose sole purpose was to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship and prevent patients from receiving decent care.

    The bottom line: as soon as the public perceived HCR to be a program geared toward "those people" passing anything meaningful became extremely difficult.

    •  It Is Hard For Me To Disagree With Any Of That (7+ / 0-)

      the things I listed in to the graph of mine you used didn't really enter the debate until months into it. Partly cause we didn't know what exactly was going to be in the bill as it moved through multiple committees.

      When I read the "meat" of your comment about the GOP message the first thought that comes to mind is (1) that is what happened and (2) it is easier to break something down then to build it up.

      But with that said it is VERY sad that we didn't have some core messages from the very start that were not more powerful then what we used.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:35:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        webranding, SteelerGrrl

        Like "Medicare Anyone Can Buy."

      •  I had a good go explaining HCR... (9+ / 0-)

        to doubters when I kept it to three (or fewer) points:

        1. It will make health insurance coverage available to more people;
        1. It will regulate health insurance companies a little bit; and
        1. It will subsidize health insurance premiums for people who can't afford to pay.

        Typical response: "Oh...uh, that sounds like a good idea.  What's the big deal, then?"

        I think selling change becomes easier if you make it sound like not that much change.  We'd be looking at public option/single-payer, I think, if the push for HCR had started by calling it "Medicare for all."  People know what Medicare is; "public option" doesn't mean anything.

      •  And that was the fault of Obama and pro-reform (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z, NoMoJoe, SteelerGrrl, DawnN

        activists. I think that Obama made a big mistake in deferring too much to Congress. I understand his fear not to repeat the Clintons' mistakes, but he made a crucial error early on when he didn't even develop a skeleton or bare-bones outline of what the bill needed to have. Also the pro-reform side failed to talk about there being a universal right to decent healthcare. They didn't frame the debate in terms of it being "either we support the right of healthcare for all or we don't".

        What was missing were the ads of (white, middle-class, professional) families who were facing steep medical bills. What was missing were the stories of (white) working professionals who played by the rules, worked hard, paid their taxes, only to have their policies canceled through recession. What was missing were the ads of doctors having the fight with insurance companies. What was missing were the stories of those unable to get insurance due to pre-existing conditions that they developed through no fault of their own. What was missing were the stories of (white middle-class) families who ended up facing bankruptcy or financial ruination due to healthcare problems. These ads were notoriously absent from the debate.

        What was also missing were the ads debunking the right-wing lies. No one ran ads questioning the motives of the CEO of Conservatives for Patients Rights. No one ran ads debunking the lies of Shona Holmes. They had complete control of the airwaves for months on end. So, by the time the summer of 2009 came, the right had made the debate on their terms.

        The other point here is that you are 100% right in saying that "it is easier to break something down then to build it up." It is easier to rally people against something than for something. All the GOP had to do was turn approximately 30-40% of the public against the plan and that was enough for them to weaken it. They also knew which key states' Senators and Congressmen to target.

  •  The other point is that liberals and progressives (14+ / 0-)

    are reluctant to accept the concept of what most political analysts euphemistically refer to as "low-information voters". The brutal truth is that most voters neither have the interest nor the time to research key policy issues. They don't have time nor the interest to read long-winded policy papers.

    Conservatives are better at devising short, to-the-point messages that resonate with most people. They know that the most information that the average voter will get is that one 30 or 60 second that appears on TV or that short 2-3 minute piece they see on the local evening news. They know how to drive down their messages to one or two buzzwords or short sentences that people can remember.

    Liberals and progressives still don't know how to do that.

    •  And I Say That Here 24/7 (19+ / 0-)

      Now before somebody tells me I am calling "low information voters" stupid I am not. They are maybe a single mother working two jobs. A married couple that would prefer to work in their garden and read in their free time then to watch MSNBC and read a 150-page PDF on this or that policy like we do here.

      But they make up the vast, vast majority of our population. Political geeks like us (in both parties) are a small minority.

      Which I'd argue makes simple messaging even more important.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:38:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes simple messaging is important (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z

        But the other fact is that we have a society where most people vote for candidates on superficial issues like "appearance" and "who I would rather have a beer with". Although people here derided him for it, Scott Brown's appearance as a centerfold probably helped his campaign immensely with those types of voters.

      •  I would add that 'ignorant' isnt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boophus, DawnN
        the same as 'stupid'.

        Many of the less-fortunate are also poorly-educated. You can simplify the message without acting like you're insulting the audience.

        On the wheel of ideology, the cogs of communism and fascism are close. -1, -1.59

        by Liberaltarianish on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 02:21:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Agree. In addition, low information voters are (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, webranding, DawnN

        the ones most prone to stay home when the choices don't excite them.  People here are prone to disdaining low information voters because we assume everyone reads political blogs all day long the way we do.  And then we call them stupid for voting for Scott Brown or not voting at all in Massachusetts. But that is backwards reasoning.  Instead of blaming voters we need to blame weak campaigners.

        Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

        by Miggles on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 05:43:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My msg: "Republicans think you're stupid" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boophus, Wom Bat

        I repeat this refrain regularly.

        Everything - EVERYTHING - the GOP does is predicated on the assumption that most people are stupid and won't bother to fact-check the ridiculous BS claims the GOP makes.

        Full Disclosure: I am not Ben Leming. But I think he's pretty cool.

        by Benintn on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 07:44:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Converse research (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think you're right. Converse's research from the 60s backs this up. Most people just don't really know that much and don't put in the time to learn all the details.  Issues like health care reform are really complicated and require a lot of background knowledge to really form a solid and defensible opinion.

    •  Our problem is that when the Republicans (10+ / 0-)

      sell, we try to teach instead. We regard our audience as students, which is to say that in our attempts to persuade them, we expect them to work. We give them homework assignments to find out what our message is.

      Probably the first rule of marketing is that it's the seller who needs to do the work to get the message across, not the buyer. Our audience can afford to ignore our message at no immediate cost to themselves; we cannot demand any effort from them. The GOP knows this; we may know it, but we don't accept it.

      If Nixon was cocaine for the resentful psyche, Palin is meth—Andrew Sullivan

      by ebohlman on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:10:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well I Just Stole That From Your (6+ / 0-)

        Probably the first rule of marketing is that it's the seller who needs to do the work to get the message across, not the buyer.

        I've never heard that remotely said in 20 years of doing marketing. But of course it is 110% true. Just never heard it said in a manner that simple and direct.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:14:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  100% correct (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ebohlman, Jyrinx, DawnN

        The other thing is that liberals and progressives view "marketing" as a dirty word. They don't want to believe that public policy debates are "marketing efforts". They are stuck up in that way.

        And you are right about giving them "homework". Very few people have to them to "investigate" issues for themselves.

        •  Funny You Say That. I Started Off Here Writing (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ebohlman, Jyrinx, boophus, SoCalSal, DawnN

          a lot about marketing. Years ago. I mean it is kind of what I know. I love me a rant from time to time. But I really come here to have a doctor or a lawyer explain things to me they've learned from a lifetime of doing stuff that helps me understand the topic better.

          Sometimes it got really ugly. I mean ugly. Way maybe not that ugly but I don't have really thick skin I guess. I was the virus that was ruining the world. Advertising and what I do is the root cause of evil. Really nasty stuff.

          I quickly realized for a lot of liberals/progressives marketing was not a "cool" topic. Funny cause I've worked at some of the most liberal advertising agencies you can imagine.

          With that said nothing like I mentioned above has been said once in any of the comments here, so I have some renewed faith.

          "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

          by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:25:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You can perhaps thank thereisnospoon for that. (0+ / 0-)

            His job, being way more nefarious- and insidious-sounding than yours, has shoved the Overton window in your favor :-D

            “If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution.” — Emma Goldman

            by Jyrinx on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:49:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  "Stuck up" is (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, boophus, Wom Bat, DawnN, Whatithink

          exactly the phrase that I've been searching for for the past few years. Nothing turns people off to an idea more than that idea's promoter acting as if it's so self-evident that only a dummy wouldn't get it.

          The most spectacular example of this occurs when a candidate/party decides that he/they are guaranteed to win and don't have to campaign. One of the big reasons, IMHO, that the GOP lost in 92 was that their convention had the tone of a victory celebration. In 08, it was hard to tell if the GOP thought they had everything sewed up, or if they knew they were going to lose and didn't bother trying. As a number of crossover voters who have posted here pointed out, running Sarah Palin conveyed the impression that they weren't taking the election seriously. Scott Brown is now in the senate because Martha Coakley thought she was a shoe-in.

          If Nixon was cocaine for the resentful psyche, Palin is meth—Andrew Sullivan

          by ebohlman on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:33:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  conservatives are better at lying too (0+ / 0-)

      It's easier to come up with catchy slogans when you're not concerned about the truth or doing anything but coming up with hateful catchy slogans.

  •  Hope & Change worked for Obama (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pattym922, ebohlman, SteelerGrrl, DawnN

    Great diary--  But Repubs are lock step robots and Dems just don't march in line
    Emotions are indeed more powerful than reasoned arguments-- This does need to be said over and over-- progressives tend to think facts and logic will persuade voters. Not that I've noticed in 5 years of political activism

    •  But there are facts that take aim on (5+ / 0-)

      an emotional level. For example: There are many signs we are in a recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression. This recession started with Republicans in power and the recovery with Democrats. If you want the recovery to continue, vote for us. If you want the recovery to stop dead in its tracks, vote for them.

    •  What's ironic (0+ / 0-)

      is they accuse us of being ruled by emotion rather than reason.

      The liberal and conservative worldviews are so fundamentally different; it's no surprise that we find each others' arguments so unconvincing.

      I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. --Kurt Vonnegut

      by SteelerGrrl on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:15:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Dems are not robots. But. If the Dem leadership (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, on second thought

      hired good PR firms and simply OFFERED congressional and other Dems effective talking points, some would certainly use them.  If the leadership undertook a gradual education of Democratic officials about messaging -- not as a way of being phony and lying, but as a way of communicating effectively and winning elections -- there would be at least a moderate level of response, and that would certainly help.

      I don't think the Democratic party should become as rigidly structured as the Republican party. But in two ways (at least) we should learn from them. Provide first time candidates for Congress with some basic training on being an effective candidate. And require some basic party discipline from freshman Senators and Reps, if they want party money for re-election. That should include reading and using party messaging material -- not necessarily exclusively, but enough to support the party's message.

  •  The Party Is Doing the Messaging Int Wants (4+ / 0-)

    It can't be a coherent party because it attempts to serve the people part of the time.

    But to be a national party, it has to be a conservative party or it'll never get the corporate funding needed for a shot at winning national elections.

    So it has to run tepid messaging for the people, and not look like it's challenging big money. This produces weak majorities when they win, and that's essential because otherwise there'd be too much pressure to govern for the people.

    You might be able to help some candidates, but not the party.

    What hurt "us" in the health issue last year was the decision of our best-in-decades communicator not to raise hopes too much. That was a deliberate decision.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:42:57 PM PDT

  •  A subset of the issues you identify (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, FarWestGirl, DawnN

    is the candidate who is running for a highly technical job, like Attorney General, Auditor, or in the case of Francis Thicke, Secretary of Agriculture.  He is promoting sustainable agriculture and alternative energy, as he did in a diary here on Monday.  But these are not simple issues to communicate.  The interests of the farmer trying to make an income off a CAFO is very different from those of a consumer who wants affordable wholesome food, or a property owner who doesn't want to smell them.  The solutions involve highly-technical processes in some cases.  It's a challenge.

  •  This is important info (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the diary, Webranding.

    I think one of the reasons we have President Obama, is because his campaign thought of one message
    'change', and STUCK to it, repeating ad nauseum.

    While other candidates (R and D alike) were flapping in the breeze, changing slogans like revolving doors, The Obama Aparatus was on message, inexorably driving the same message home time and again.

    (Not commenting here on whether it was 'true' a 'lie', or anything else, just the commenting on the single most compelling message of the campaign, and its repetition.)

    •  Thanks. In The Next Diary On This Topic (8+ / 0-)

      I am going to talk about messaging and/or position platforms. There are a number of different ways to position a product, a person, or a policy.

      With a product the easiest platform is price from a message development point-of-view. Easy to say you are more cost effective (insert cheap) then the competition or you are what the cool, rich, hip folks buy (status symbol).

      But harder to be successful in the market place. The saying in my field it is good to be Wal-Mart or Sax Fifth Avenue. Sucks to be stuck in the middle somewhere.

      I'm going to have to tweak my knowledge of the different platforms and do some research to deal with politicians/public policy, but I think the basics will hold true.

      Now I say that cause you don't always have to target pain. Often, maybe not that often, somebody like Obama comes along that can use "change" and "hope." But I think we'd all argue not many politicians could pull it off the way he did.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 02:16:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lakoff is our Frank Luntz but (8+ / 0-)

    nobody really listens to him.

    The messaging is a problem, but for the message to be credible, it must correspond to the underlying policies. Lakoff tried to warn us that we were heading down the wrong road on health care, and urged us to present it as "the American Plan", based around a federal health insurance plan that would be available and affordable to all.

    Would've been a great message, but we didn't present such a plan, so we couldn't make that our message.

    Now, we're into the financial reform things and so far it seems to be going better, but Frank Luntz has put the word out to call it a "permanent bailout", and, to an extent, collecting funds to pay creditors of failing institutions is kind of a permanent bailout fund, though I suppose not for the institution itself, but for the creditors, but that was the whole issues with the AIG "backdoor" bailout of Goldman Sachs. If an institution comes with a complicit federal guarantee that its creditors will be paid off, it can afford to do much different things than an institution that doesn't have that type of guarantee.

  •  In a nonhierarchical organization... (0+ / 0-)

    When I read Crashing The Gate I had a lot of takeaways, but one far more than anything else jumped up at me. Why do so many people in our party keep hiring political consultants that lose elections more often then they win? I asked myself time and time again (and still do) why the heck the DNC doesn't hire a consumer marketing firm?

    ...if enough mediocre people vote you reach a consensus of mediocrity. In a lot of losers, after much debate, a consensus of losers can be formed. How does an inaccurate or banal diary reach the top of the rec list? Of course, these are extreme examples... To make swift and agile progress, someone needs to be in charge. An anecdote: The Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Vietnam War operated based on consensus. During the Iraq War I, Gen. Powell listened to all the participants and then made the decisions.

  •  Tell me what you think of this one, webranding (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, addisnana, SteelerGrrl

    I've felt for a long time that the Democrats' core economic message should be:

    Security. Flexibility. Opportunity. Dignity.

    It dawns on me that we could take that and add the tagline:


    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 02:26:05 PM PDT

    •  Well Don't Get Mad At Me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whenwego, addisnana

      but it has no meaning to me. They are wonderful words. But what do they mean? Now with that said I've written some Diaries about branding and messaging in the past and one thing I refuse to do is suggest exactly what needs to be said. That may seem strange, cause I do have some ideas, but I'd need to spend countless hours working with other people, conducting focus groups, pouring over poll results before I'd offer up a suggestion.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 02:40:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You have to admit, on the right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian, webranding

        Luntz does a great messaging job.

        Well? Shall we go? At least that man is gone.

        by whenwego on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 02:44:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'll take the constructive criticism (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but I'm not going to give up on it just yet. :-)

        A person's career is often compared to a ladder.

        Opportunity means you have a chance to climb higher.

        Flexibility means you can move at your own pace, and switch to a different ladder if you want to or need to.

        Security means that if something goes wrong, you won't fall off completely.

        Dignity . . . well, OK, that has nothing to do with the ladder. It simply means that your employer acknowledges you as a valuable Somebody instead of an expendable Nobody. Both you and the work you do are important and meaningful.

        It seems to me that people's economic anxiety is directly related to how much they lack these four things. "I can't get ahead"; "I can't fit my work around my life"; "I'm terrified what will happen if I get sick or lose my job"; "My employer doesn't care about me."

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:16:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  i think you should start throwing some out there (0+ / 0-)

        might help move the conversation along. remember, on the internet, nobody knows you are a dog.

        Medicare for All: the cleanest slogan and the best way forward.

        by furiouschads on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 09:33:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Too long a list and terms all too nebulous (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, Matt Z, DawnN

      Great marketing conveys a clear, unambiguous, concise message. Your list-security, flexibility, opportunity, dignity-is too long and can mean way too many things. (Though I agree with the sentiments).

      JFK had a great marketing message (though you could call it a mission statement too--they're closely related) with this line:

      "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

    •  Obama had a great slogan (9+ / 0-)

      When he was inaugurated, he said something very slogan-worthy :"Get a mop. We've got work to do."

      This should be the one slogan that the dems could have repeated over and over again. First it reinforces the truth that the mess is left over from the republican admin. Secondly, people like the positive, can-do spirit of cleaning sh*t up and fixing what needs to be fixed.

      •  I like the thought of cleaning the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Jyrinx

        Previous Administration's messes up a lot more than coopting their policies.

        Maybe there's a shortage of mops in the White House...

        Show me the POLICY!

        by Fabian on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:24:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I know whenever *I* sweep the floor, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Geenius at Wrok, Fabian

          the first thing I do is go outside and get the broom really dirty. That way my floor, which is always resistant to change, is placated, making it easier to make it cleaner in the long term.

          Sure, the floor appears to be only getting dirtier, but how clean can one person get the floor in just 16 months?!! I don't have a magic wand, people!

          “If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution.” — Emma Goldman

          by Jyrinx on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:55:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Fifty State Strategy (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, pattym922, webranding, Matt Z, FarWestGirl

    Dr. Dean nailed it with three words. I originally thought "we can do better" was the message.

    Democrats for the American democracy; for all Americans.

  •  Not just simple messages. We need RED MEAT (6+ / 0-)

    Red meat meaning something that has emotional resonance, or something that the voters identify with. People don't just vote 'for the issues'. A lot of times, people just vote their 'tribal affiliation'. "He's one of us" is far more important to a lot of these voters than "issue A. issue B. issue C., etc, etc"  Make no mistake about it, tribal politics is not just for Africa. It's alive and well here.

    We need to frame ourselves as 'hard working people who play by the rules', vs the rich f*cks who outsource our jobs, starts endless wars, crash our economy, destroy our environment, sells us chemicalized junk, corrupts our government, etc, etc.

    •  Well Just Wait. "Tribes" And/Or Story Telling (9+ / 0-)

      might be the next Diary I wrote on this topic. Often I am asked to review the copy clients have in their marketing materials. I find it unreadable most of the time. All this jargon and buzz words. Bulleted lists. Hurts me head. They are talking at me, not to me.

      I tell them they have to tell a story. You need the core message, but then after that tell a story. I explain that there is something in our DNA where we like stories. There is a reason when we lived in caves and were still maybe confused by fire we still painted stories on the walls of a successful hunt.

      We like stories. Once you've made me interested in what you have to say, tell me a darn story. Please!

      This is explained in detail in Seth Godin's book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. I've been doing this stuff for 20 years and he is about the only marketing person I listen to and will pony up for his books the second they come out.

      This is important .....

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:03:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know...I've mentioned this on dk before (0+ / 0-)

      with regard to homeowners who got shafted in the housing crisis and got lambasted for being selfish and without empathy for it (but I know what ya mean;-)

      We need to frame ourselves as 'hard working people who play by the rules'

  •  Could you repeat this diary 5x? And reduce it... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, webranding, Fiona West, DawnN

    to three words. ;-)

    Thanks for the heads up to our muckety-mucks -- hope they read it too!

  •  You are officially... (8+ / 0-)

    ... HIRED.

    People talk about the echo chamber of similar beliefs, but we often forget the larger chamber we reside in, of political junkies. Our target audience is NOT the politically savvy opponents we spend all day sparring with, it's people who don't have time to learn the details and want a thirty second overview. Your strategy directly addresses this.

    People who are politically sophisticated are also people who have made up their minds. It's fun to argue with them, but ultimately pretty pointless unless there is an atmosphere of mutual respect and genuine policy difference, which is unfortunately rare.

    The people who need convincing are people who are going to flip past the news briefly on their way to Maury or ESPN, people who might here a soundbyte on the morning commute, or hear something over the watercooler. Simple, direct, and repetitive marketing is the answer.

    Being partisan and being right are not mutually exclusive.

    by DynamicUno on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 02:56:26 PM PDT

    •  We underestimate the number of uninformed (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nova Land, webranding, boophus, DawnN

      Not ignorant, not stupid, not Faux watchers and Rush listeners. People who just don't spend much time on news and current events.

      Here's a challenge. One morning turn on the most popular local network affiliate for the news. Listen to the weather, the traffic, the high school  sports results. You'll also get a bit of world and national news in there. Then, on your way to work tune in a radio station of your choice - but not talk radio. The best one in your area for whatever kind of music you can stomach - top 10, country, oldie, easy listening; and absorb what news you get in their "counted in seconds" news breaks.

      At that point you will know MORE about what is going on than vast numbers of your neighbors and fellow citizens.

      Legalism: strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit

      by Catte Nappe on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 06:03:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My Parents Are Moderate Republicans (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, Nova Land, boofdah, DawnN

        dad with a PhD. Mom college educated before that was the "norm." They don't listen to Rush or Fox Noise. They get Newsweek and Time. The local paper. Maybe an hour or two of a combo of CNN/MSNBC each day.

        I'd argue they are in the top 75% percentile of Americans trying to stay informed. Yet they are so unformed when I talk to them about this detail or that detail they are mistaken.

        It is sad I have to spend like 2-4 hours a day keeping myself informed. But alas that is how it is.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 06:08:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have to keep remembering it (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          webranding, ebohlman, DawnN

          We had a local issue that was huge - top story on most local TV news, and in the papers, for several days - consumers practically out with pitchforks, tar and feathers. It had a direct connection to something a co-worker needed to resolve. I mentioned it to him - he looked at me like I had two heads. Was oblivious. I had to spend 15 minutes filling him in on the issue.

          Legalism: strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit

          by Catte Nappe on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 06:14:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Diary! (4+ / 0-)

    If Dems follow the diarist's advice the GOP won't see a majority again for a very long time.

  •  I am the anti-advertising/marketing guy (11+ / 0-)

    (I.e. engineer) and even I can see that our messaging sucks.

    -space unintentionally blank-

    by hillgiant on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:00:37 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for this diary.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, amk for obama

    It needs to be on the rec list every day, as far as I'm concerned.  You can have the best legislation, ideas, policies etc., but if you cannot get your message across, you won't get credit.  It's too bad the game is played that way, but such is life.  

    With Wall Street Reform the Dems have done a much better job in framing the issue than HIR, IMO.  I will say that much...but it's an issue that plays right into their hands. They'll need strong messaging when it comes to Immigration reform, for example.

  •  Reductionist Fear (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, webranding, cacamp, DawnN

    Thank you for this diary.  One thing I believe is that the conservative message is inherently easier to fit into the 3 principles you outline.  Consider these worn conservative ideas:
    -taxes are bad
    -flip flop
    -immigrants are bad
    -government is bad
    -cumbaya peacenik
    -guns = safe

    Now try and counter them.  You can't really without going into 2, or more, sentences.  They are immediately understood and treated as absolute truth by too many Americans.  It's because the nature of the conservative message is a reductionist play to fear.

    Now go on the offensive.  It's hard because the progressive ideas require some intelligent grasp of complex ideals.  Too many Americans immediately yawn.

    So what simple one or 2 word phrases can we do here?

    •  I Agree And Disagree (5+ / 0-)

      I agree they are hard to counter in a short sentence. I disagree cause (1) We let them attach meaning to those phrases without effectively pushing back and (2) We should debate (to use some Sun Tzu from the Art of War) on the field of battle we choose, not what they choose.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:12:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We need to stop abetting the right wing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, m00finsan, boophus

        If I had the power, I would change the rules here to make using the phrase "pro-life" a Hide Ratable offense.  When we use it, we tacitly reinforce that 1) as soon as an egg is fertilized, it is a life and 2) the issue is not pro-choice versus anti-choice, it is "pro-life" versus either anti-life or pro-choice.  The issue is anti-choice versus pro-choice.

        We commonly reinforce other Frank Luntz talking points.  I don't care if we do so because they are commonly used - they are inaccurate and they are commonly used because the other side pushes them and we gradually adopt them.  We need to stop letting them control the language, because they do it dishonestly.

        I think I'd also change the comment editor to automatically replace "Republican" with "Corporate Republican".  :-)  It reinforces the accurate and honest face or our opposition.  The right has made the word "liberal" almost toxic, and throws out "liberal Democrat" all the time.  We need to start branding the Corporate Republicans so that there is no doubt who they are supporting.

        •  Issue is anti-abortion vs. pro-abortion-rights (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Fuck euphemism.

          "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

          by Geenius at Wrok on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:38:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Pro-choice is not a euphemism. Pro-choice (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lotlizard, blueoasis, m00finsan

            groups support and work hard to offer a range of choices for women: sex education, availability of birth control, availability of testing for STDs and pregnancy, abortion if needed or desired, pre-natal care if continuing the pregnancy.

            The people who oppose us are anti-abortion, but often also anti-birth control, and anti-sex ed. The battles about abortion rights are the hottest and most public, but the other battles are going on all the time too.  We see them all as connected.

            So pro-choice is an abbreviation, in a sense. But it's accurate.  Just having abortion legal, while important, doesn't give women (or men who love them) a sane range of choices.

    •  Okay here goes (a marketing guy) (0+ / 0-)

      taxes are bad / government of the people, by the people, for the people

      flip-flop / principals and people

      immigrants are bad / earn your way - like our forefathers before us who EARNED their way

      government is bad / government of the people, by the people, for the people

      liberal / teabagger

      cumbaya peacenik / Wikileaks war videos

      guns = safe / choose your battles wisely

  •  Why I'm an old branding man, myself! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, webranding, addisnana

    Smaller pond than your Manhatten execs o' course!

    Nice work Web.

    Catholic Church: Example of Religion thats TOO BIG TO FAIL

    by Detroit Mark on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:06:00 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary. Dems suck at messaging. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, FarWestGirl

    Big time. We need our own luntz. And our own luntz's talking points. And our own designated talking heads.

    Between birthers, deathers and mouth-breathers, the gop has got 'teh crazy' and 'teh stoopid' covered.

    by amk for obama on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:09:25 PM PDT

  •  doesn't diary dmakes the same mistake? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, webranding, Eric Nelson

    you generalize over several paragraphs without any specifics. I'd like to hear something specific on your first point about HCR.

    If I was hired by the DNC to consult on their messaging there is no question I'd rather hear the response to then, what was your Single Most Compelling Message for HCR? A close second would be what is the Single Most Compelling Message for keeping Democrats in control of the House and Senate in the midterms? I am 99% sure if I asked ten high-profile elected Democrats none could give me a consistent, direct answer

    OK so now give us an example of that KISS message so we can begin to implement it. I've heard many of our "consultants" on messaging tell us to immitate the GOP and/or Luntz and keep it short and sweet but none ever come up with anything. They expect us non-experts to do it. In a comment above mine "scruggle" gives you some examples of GOP messaging and asks you to counter them. You can't, is that because it's impossible to counter simple stuff like...

    consider these worn conservative ideas:
    -taxes are bad
    -flip flop
    -immigrants are bad
    -government is bad
    -cumbaya peacenik
    -guns = safe

    Now try and counter them.

    or because you haven't had time to think up any short pithy answers?

    I'm not trying to make any point except that I've often heard your theme being expressed but I've never seen any concrete examples of what you marketing guys are talking about. As you can see form the comments we dems are eager to do as you say we should if only some good marketing consultant would give us the good short 'kiss' message to run with. I'm just beginning to wonder if it's actually possible? Is it?

    •  I'm Not On The Inside. I Can't Tell You Exactly (5+ / 0-)

      what needs to be done cause I honestly don't even know what the DNC wants to do. What agenda they want to push. It would be stupid of me to say I am a "marketing expert" now you go say this or that.

      I can't tell you how many times I've watched the marketing of a Fortune 50 company, read the trade press, and thought I knew what they wanted to say.

      Then I sign them on as a client and actually meet with them and I was 100% wrong.

      I'm some dude sitting in my home office in rural Illinois. You should IMHO be directing the questions you asked me to the DNC and all the folks that appear on TV 24/7 as "consultants" that say they promote our views while making a ton of money.

      Now I will end with this. I think the cheapest messaging/branding platform I ever put together took 3 months and $225,000. It isn't simple.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:46:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rural Illinois? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tmo, webranding

        Same here. Now I'm curious. :-]

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:20:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I was trying to be specific to HCR (0+ / 0-)

        now that that debate is over and we all heard the messaging and know the issues what should the KISS message have been to counter GOP talking points like 'government takeover'? I'm beginning to think that there isn't a way to carry out what you say we need to do. Is there even one example?

        •  I Would Argue That My Use Of Language (4+ / 0-)

          is below average. I know you think I am skirting your question but I don't have the ability to write that well. I can give the direction, but to ask me to come up with the "great" phrase isn't going to happen.

          Let me use an example. I worked at an ad agency that did some pro bono work for an association that attempt to recover child support due to mother's in the mid-90s.

          Now I am a dude from a two parent family, but the topic made me sick to my stomach. I was stunned at how much women and therefore their children were getting screwed.

          I threw myself at the topic. Learned more about it then you could imagine. We did a lot of the messaging stuff I've talked about here and the creative department came up with this headline:

          He got in your pants, now get in his!

          Got the group on Oprah. Front page of USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

          Creative people are called creative for a reason. They create stuff. I don't.

          Never in a thousands years would I have written that.

          "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

          by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:49:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Isn't this the heart of the problem? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        An Affirming Flame

        I honestly don't even know what the DNC wants to do. What agenda they want to push.

        That's the basic problem with the Democratic Party. It's more than their words, too. It's their actions.

        Candidates say a bunch of shit about wanting to help working people, then when they get to DC they vote to help the same ones the Repubs do.

        No slogan in the world is going to overcome that reality.

        Life can only be understood in reverse / But must be lived forwards - Mustaine

        by zett on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 08:53:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  radical Republican (0+ / 0-)

      Hey John Edwards, put your legal mind to work, ACORN needs your help.

      by 88kathy on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:09:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  forked tongue (0+ / 0-)

      Hey John Edwards, put your legal mind to work, ACORN needs your help.

      by 88kathy on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:10:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  dungeon and militia cornfield soldiers (0+ / 0-)

      Hey John Edwards, put your legal mind to work, ACORN needs your help.

      by 88kathy on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:15:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rough drafts... (0+ / 0-)

      Campaign finance reform- Ban the Purchase of Power

      Corporations aren't Americans (or Citizens)

      Democracy =Ballots, Not Bullets

      Bag the Tantrums, Get to Work

      GOP motto=Take the Money and Run

      Repeal HIR, Let Insurance Corps Kill Again

      Suck It Up, Sore Losers and Get to Work

      You Screwed Up Your Turn

      Cap & Trade- Quit Suffocating the Planet

      GOP-The Party of I Got Mine, Now I Want Yours

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

      by FarWestGirl on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:30:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Very good point.. What I took was: Don't counter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the Gop crap because that lends credence. Set the mem..ignore the Republican propaganda spin.

      Don't follow and squash Gop spin. Lead and negate with the better high carbon truth. IMO

      Thought provoking Diary Webranding

      "you Are the Un-Americans, and You Ought to be Ashamed of Yourselves":Paul Robeson Appears Before HUAC

      by Eric Nelson on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 07:14:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but i feel like the reason we are always (0+ / 0-)

        countering the GOP (especially the countless diaries everyday over their crazy actions) is because we can't get on the same page with any message, let alone a solid convincing one. That's just how it seems to me, and why those diaries are there. Anytime someone says A or B is the 'true' democratic position, people freak, and that ends the position we want to communicate in a message.

  •  This ignores the fact that the Democrats aren't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    supposed to be good at what they do.

    Why do so many people in our party keep hiring political consultants that lose elections more often then they win?

    The Democrats are the "party of the people," or so they vaguely claim.  Their problem: they, like the Republicans, are actually the party of capital.  They have very little interest in making real positive change for regular people.

    Their true goal is to look like they're trying really, really hard, while always falling short.  While they're actually serving the ruling classes, they need to make sure that enough regular people won't call bullshit on their deceit.  That's their marketing strategy and they are brilliantly successful at it.

    If the Democrats wanted to be as good at messaging when it comes to progressive and liberal policies as the Republicans are with conservative policies, they could be.  It's just not their goal.  If they were good at that messaging, they might accidentally empower regular people and upset the ruling classes.  Avoiding that outcome is their overriding priority.

    Between excessive citizen activism and excessive trust or passivity, the former is far preferable to the latter. - Glenn Greenwald

    by An Affirming Flame on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 03:40:36 PM PDT

    •  Wow! That is a spot on mouthful AAF! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      An Affirming Flame

      If they were good at that messaging, they might accidentally empower regular people and upset the ruling classes.  Avoiding that outcome is their overriding priority.

      No wonder the media spends so much time fueling the fires between left/right - god forbid should we join forces and drive home a true populist message...then they'd be really scared!

  •  The thing is before effective messaging comes... (4+ / 0-)

    an actual agreed upon product or service.  In other words what you are selling.

    To this, the Whitehouse has been ambiguous in the extreme. A few selected examples:



    Accountability for Torture -- WE LIVE BY THE RULE OF LAW OR LET'S FORGET THE PAST?

    Bipartisanship -- CUM BYE YA OR KICK-ASS?


    Messaging be damned - if you can't even say WTF you want.  

    It goes something like this:

    I am sick n' tired of hearing "unnamed sources" on Politico, Huff-n-Puff, WaPo, etc. say the WH wants this or that or that or this.

    I am sick n' tired of hearing, "Make me do it", when a) I don't know what "IT" is and b) the Democrats don't seem to want to do it anyway.

    I am sick n' tired of pushing against ropes, nailing Jell-O to trees or herding cats. I would rather bust-up against a GOP wall of BALD-FACED MESSAGING LIES and obstructionism than push slinkies back and forth with Democrats.



    •  Nailing jello to trees? (0+ / 0-)

      That's one I hadn't heard before. Can't wait to work it into a convo. :-)

      But I wholeheartedly agree. I think part of the reason the WH doesn't want to come out and say what they want is that they know the GOP will do a better job of getting out in front of it and constructing the meme (see their premature reaction to his not-yet-named SC pick) and just putting a bad taste in everyone's mouth about it.

      Maybe it's a bit of chicken-or-egg, but I think if we could see a stronger message machine in place, we'd embolden the Prez so he wouldn't have to play so much 8-Dimensional chess.

      Like you, I'm willing to grab a mop, but the point is that whilst I'm cleaning, you (the WH) go after the ones making all the mess in the first place. What's the point of cleaning the rug if you never house-train the puppy?

      Mixed metaphors much? Yeah, I know. Get off my back about it! :-)

  •  Trying to come up with a great phrase that (5+ / 0-)

    Democrats would agree on would be the first hurdle.  Republicans seem to accept whatever is fed to them, they all seem to be on message, they all get the same few talking points and repeat them ad nauseum. How they manage to keep everyone in line is either very admirable or very scary.

    Democrats, on the other hand, don't always seem to be playing for the same team.  They didn't get the memo from main office.  They don't crow about their successes, instead they seem to be always on the defense.  The Republicans are proactive and master-spinners, and Democrats react to the spin.

    Where is our Democratic and not-evil version of Lutz, Rove, Atwater?  Why do the Republicans have edge in the psychology of marketing ?  Democrats are smarter,  and their ideas and issues are much more people-friendly. C'mon!

    •  Here Is The Thing IMHO. Meassing Matters (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      susan in sc, FarWestGirl, Whatithink

      It does. Period. There is no doubt that any of the messages that our party came up would not make everybody happy. I've never developed a message for a small tech company that made everybody happy, much less a Fortune 200 company with 200,000 employees.

      But coming forward with a focused message. Winning the debate, it benefits all of the party and all of the views in the long run. You can't continue to have this "fractured" messaging and not wonder why you are getting rolled by the Republicans that control nothing outside of the SCOTUS.

      We have the White House and huge majorities in the House and Senate. On most policies our views poll far higher then the Republicans with the population.

      You want to keep going down this road, banging your head against the fall, just keep it up.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:21:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  With Adequete Messaging RayGun - Cheney Would (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    have NEVER been elected, much less done so fabulously well their fascist agenda.


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:21:45 PM PDT

    •  It wasn't just the lousy marketing (0+ / 0-)

      it was the media's War on Gore that delivered Bush and Cheney into the White House.

      Bob Somerby of the incomparable Daily Howlerchronicled the entire sorry saga in real time.

      It's the Supreme Court, Stupid!

      by Radiowalla on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:34:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was 20 in 1980. The Media was constant Raygun (0+ / 0-)

        sided - as it was in '84, '88 ...

        many of the SENIOR people on the Dem side pushing the hostile media meme have been in charge of losing to hostile media for decades.

        you have 2 choices to win:

        1. win by the rules which exist,
        1. change the rules to your benefit.

        these senior people blaming the media should either be fired, or they should go work for the other side - except the corrupt scum and the highly paid incompetents have it too good living at the top.  

        I'm sorry that you accept and propogate their lame ass excuses.


        Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

        by seabos84 on Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 06:06:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  1) 50-state strategy. 2) Messaging platform (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, DawnN

    WB, you got it straight. The Dems must implement a messaging platform.

    How is it within minutes the GOP can have every communications mouthpiece in sync with key talking points? This includes Faux News, press releases, every GOP politician, pundits, Drudge Report, talking heads BECK and Limbaugh, etc.  

    They ALL repeat the same thing (true or not), which tends to make it true (even when not).

    I would ask, can Dems or Progressives actually even agree on messaging? Or is it in our blood to always have a big raucous tent with many voices?

    •  There Is A Wonderful Book Called Spin Control (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, DawnN

      It is out of print I believe. It talks in detail about how from Nixon to Clinton the White House Press Office worked. In the time a memo or fax would be sent to the head of each Department/Agency by the White House every morning.

      Now keep in mind this was done before the Internet, email, or 24/7 news channels.

      It gave each head the talking point for the day from the White House. Maybe Carter was going to talk about a new program at NIH to reduce cancer.

      The head of NASA, even though not so much into day-to-day cancer research would know they needed to talk, if they were interviewed, about how many medical advances had occurred cause of the space program.

      I mean that isn't rocket science to anybody is it?

      Maybe I've missed it, but are we doing anything like that now? I read more then I care to admit about how or government communicates and I hear nothing even remotely this basic from a messaging point-of-view.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:34:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  KISS (0+ / 0-)

    Keep America healthy
    Isn't it important?
    Stop paying too much for it
    Stop unnecessary deaths

    We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. ~Richard Dawkins

    by Therapy on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:29:37 PM PDT

    •  Perhaps (0+ / 0-)

      It is important

      would work too, but I kind of like the moral dilemma the former poses when asked of opponents.

      Feel free to improve upon mine...

      We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. ~Richard Dawkins

      by Therapy on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:36:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  White House just named Stephanie Cutter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pattym922, Catte Nappe

    Assistant to the President for Special Projects "Health Reform messaging"

    I think that's a move in the right direction

  •  Someday before the November elections I may (6+ / 0-)

    have to throw something at our TV set to finally end the constant stream of commercials that PG&E is running in support of Prop 16 here in California.  In order to sell the public on expanding their monopoly, they are suggesting that it is all a matter of voting rights (they want a 2/3 majority to allow local governments to take over utilities).  The fact that they are using such a clearly marketing/advertising approach to mislead the public irritates me no end.

    But, after reading your diary, I realize that what really burns me up is that we are not developing similar marketing strategies to sell the truth.

  •  A peak life experience (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, marleycat, Eric Nelson

    You know, those events that people will remember as a peak experience, all their lives? The day they got married, or had their first child, or climbed Everest...?  One of mine was being part of a team that under the guidance of Stan Richards and the Richards Group had to develope a "brand statement/promise". It was a painful struggle! All kinds of airy-fairy and artsy-fartsy notions got tossed around until we were wrung out and exhausted...and then a short, concise statement emerged; and all the other dominoes fell into place.

    For those who don't know, the Richards group is famous for a number of branding campaigns ("Eat mor chikin" and "We'll leave the light on for you"). So, it's no big surprise that some of their work gets mentioned regularly in articles and guides about branding. Here's just a random sample of various intro guides on the concept of branding grabbed from the inner-tubez. We need something similar for both the Democratic Party as a whole, and for specific major initiatives individually.

    Here are some real-life examples of Brand Identity Statements in action:
    • Canada's Helios Design and Communications uses "Hard-hitting design, done right the first time."
    • H&B catalog of Jazz CDs claims to be "A mail order service for people who know jazz."
    • Copywriter Luther Brock, who calls himself "The Letter Doctor," uses the phrase "High-response sales letters for firms on a limited budget."
    • Chicago's Smart Studios promotes itself with the BIS "Great sounds. Cool people. Killer studio."

    We asked the focus-group participants where they stayed when they were on the road, and they went around the room and didn't mention Motel 6. It was very clear that they didn't want to be perceived by the other people in the room as being cheap or poor.
    When they ran out of brands to mention, someone in the room said, "When it's late at night and I'm on the road, I'll stop at a Motel 6. I can save enough money to buy a tank of gas."
    And then someone else would say the same thing: "I saved enough to take something home to the grandkids."
    The room changed. It changed from embarrassment to enormous pride in this frugality-- frugality as a virtue. "If my eyes are closed and I'm asleep, I don't need fancy stuff in my hotel room. I just need a clean comfortable place to stay."

    Walmart promises to save shoppers money. Southwest Airlines promises the freedom to fly.....

    An example of a killer positioning statement is that of The Richards Group client Motel 6:
    Target audience: Anyone who is on the road and a budget traveler. "It doesn’t matter how much money you have or if you’re driving a BMW—if you are on the road and on a budget, you are a potential customer," Richards says.
    Competition: Other budget motels including Days Inn, Econo Lodge, Microtel and Super 8.
    Compelling benefit: "Always the lowest price of any national chain," and "always a comfortable place to stay." These are promises that are both actionable now, but also require planning to make sure they are true in the future.

    This stuff is waaay easier said than done. And it cannot be done just from the perspective of what will make a good sound bite for the moment. It can't be changed every year or two. A branding statement is a promise that must guide all decisions and operations for the long haul.

    Legalism: strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit

    by Catte Nappe on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:51:58 PM PDT

    •  That Had To Be A Fun Experience (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, Eric Nelson

      When that break through happens!

      Now in hindsight if I had to write this Diary over I would have stressed a lot more how hard and painful it is. I felt I expressed that. But in the comments it is clear for so folks with experience in this I didn't.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 05:00:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fun? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        No, the breakthrough moment is more like having a bowel movement after three days of constipation!

        I think what's hard to convey is this process of boiling you/your organization down to it's essence. The results sound so simple and easy, but getting there isn't. And what you come up with has to have endurance. That outfit that says "Great sounds. Cool people. Killer studio." has to live up to that promise - every day, in all aspects of their operation. In every piece of equipment they purchase, in every person they hire, in every ad campaign they run.

        Legalism: strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit

        by Catte Nappe on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 05:10:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is not offensive. (0+ / 0-)

    But I'm sure you've heard that before. :)

    Good job, w.r.

    Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

    by Colorado is the Shiznit on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:52:02 PM PDT

  •  YES! (0+ / 0-)

    Yeah, I also studied communications and I am always so frustrated that somehow we cannot seem to tie together threads in the mainstream media which will move are agenda forward. It seems so simple to me sometimes, thats probably why Republicans are so good at it. Haha. Somehow Republicans have taken a corporatist agenda and made it populist and have taken the democratic agenda which is actually populist and made it an elitist/bailout- loving/fascist/socialist one.  

  •  thanks very informative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mayrose, DawnN

    clear and precise too --

    message received!

    The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

    by jamess on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 04:59:27 PM PDT

  •  your Lincoln-Douglas debates reference... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, webranding, DawnN

    ...made me laugh. I can just imagine the repub opponent's reaction when we said this in response to one of their inane rants:

    " thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death."

    [from the 6th debate on 10.13.58]

    Yep, these times, they are a changin', and this why proper framing is paramount!

    "Peace is the protector of genius. War is the mortal enemy of both peace and genius."

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 05:05:06 PM PDT

  •  good analysis, a multi-pronged (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, ebohlman, DawnN

    approach is needed. whatever 'consulting' the Dems do (and sadly, I have to say, I don't foresee a future in which Dems do anything at all to address the important issues you've raised) it should focus partly on messaging, partly on the content of the message (relevant stats and info, easily put, ready to fly off the tongue) - by which I mean to say that many politicians can't speak well about what the hell it is they're trying to do and often don't even understand their own bills or applicable laws, and partly on coaching pols to make media appearances. and on getting media appearances with much greater frequency as well...

    Dems need to know their 'product', and much, much better than anyone who benefits from defining that product down or misleading people about it, and they need to actively sell it, not just sit back and think "it's obviously better, so why aren't people buying it?"

  •  maybe Dems brand is 'we're bad at branding' (4+ / 0-)

    maybe they should put it out there that they're bad at selling good at governing.

    I know -- it's lame. But at least it's partially true

    I'm struggling with this topic. I know the diary is correct, but it just makes me feel angry that people are so manipulatable. Don't they care about reality?

  •  We do have David Plouffe and he understands (4+ / 0-)

    messaging, which is why President Obama appeared regularly on TV to use the bully pulpit to full advantage to pass HCR.

    The entire Democratic party should read this diary.  I am always amazed that we have such trouble using KISS:  

    Financial regulation is the only way we have to protect average citizens from Wall Street and bankers tricking them into losing their life savings.

    DADT must be repealed because men and women are dying for this country and have the right to be treated equally no matter what their sexual orientation.

    Cap and trade is the only way to stop polluters from destroying the air we breathe and the water we drink.

    Repeat regularly, everywhere, all the time.


    I guess President Obama meant it when he said he's just getting started!

    by Little Lulu on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 05:42:08 PM PDT

    •  Plouffe is counting on people like you and me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Little Lulu

      Just like in 2008, the 2010 elections will depend almost entirely on the ground game.

      And the GOP has a simple goal - destroy trust in Obama, the Democrats, and government in general.

      Full Disclosure: I am not Ben Leming. But I think he's pretty cool.

      by Benintn on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 07:38:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sure, but... (0+ / 0-)

      Are you really going to call it "Financial Regulation"? I mean, is that the name of what you're trying to do? How about "The Better Banks" bill? Or, "Honest Money" bill or something... Those aren't great, but I'm sure someone could come up with something better than "Financial Regulation". Same goes with "DADT Repeal", "Immigration Reform", etc...

      We need better names for stuff - plain and simple. At least it'd be a start.

      Freedom isn't free: Pay your taxes!

      by walk2live on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 10:39:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's about knowing your audience... (4+ / 0-)

    My friends and family range from different races...different economic backgrounds; education; environment....ages etc....

    When you successfully educate them with the linguistic vocabulary they are comfortable with, then that gives the power to spread the information you've provided.... And it makes them feel proud to be caught up on the issues as well...

    •  Well Of Course. That Is Why I Said (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ADAY, DawnN, Eric Nelson

      When a client asks me my definition of effective marketing I say:

      Delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. Again, again, and again.

      The message I give on MSNBC vs. NPR vs. a Spanish language newspaper might change somewhat. The core might be the same, but nuance matters.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 06:16:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I completley agree with you..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson

        When it came to informing Republicans about Candidate Obama, I used different Language, than the language I used when convincing my mother and older to sister to switch from Clinton to Obama.... It was meticulous and steady and in the end I became the Republicans guilty pleasure and the delegate and poll updater for many others.....

  •  'Bout damn time somebody said it! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. :-)

    When you're younger, it's "Girls Gone Wild." When you're older, it's "eyebrow hairs gone wild." There's something fundamentally unfair about this.

    by SciMathGuy on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 06:41:15 PM PDT

  •  you're right, but it's not that simple... (0+ / 0-)

    webranding - you're right about the need for better messaging from Dems.  It's hard, though, because getting all the Dems on the same page is like herding cats.  The GOP is more used to taking orders, and it's easier because they are a smaller tent than we are.  We have liberals, moderates, and conservatives all within the DEM tent.  How can you keep everyone on message?  I guess you could keep most DEMs on message and convince the others to shut up - that might work.

    The other thing is that a lot of Americans don't agree with us.  They agree with us on "issues" as stated in a poll.  But, they may not agree with us on tougher issues to pool such as racial, gender, and religious equality.  So, there are a lot of people (including teabaggers) who agree that Medicare for all is a good idea, but they don't like the idea of blacks, Hispanics, gays, and Muslims getting government benefits.  So, they beg their representatives to vote down the benefits.  So, we need a message that gets people to concentrate on what they get out of our policies, and not on the other Americans they hate.  That's tough.

  •  Excellent diary: People often are afraid of being (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ebohlman, cany, DawnN

    seen as ignorant on political issues, and don't like to expose themselves to ridicule.
    This often dissuades people from talking about a political topic.

    Add to that a majority (not here at Dkos) of people have little more time than 30-60 seconds of information they are willing to process at any given time.

    If the message is simple to understand, people will not shy away from answering a question about it or just spreading the word.. then the message catches fire in many different media.

     If the message is short sweet and simple to understand it will stick. Further thoughts about it can be added with the next "message".

    I completely agree with the Diarist Keep it simple stupid

    "you Are the Un-Americans, and You Ought to be Ashamed of Yourselves":Paul Robeson Appears Before HUAC

    by Eric Nelson on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 06:50:58 PM PDT

    •  People love knowing the answer to questions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If the Progessive Democrats can provide cogent easy to remember answers people will repeat the meme.

      Once again a timely & important Diary subject Webranding!

      "you Are the Un-Americans, and You Ought to be Ashamed of Yourselves":Paul Robeson Appears Before HUAC

      by Eric Nelson on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 06:58:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely. One really important thing to most is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson

        be respected and not thought to be of little value or worth. Reinforce their self worth and give them respect while arming them against the bullies out there... Great idea

        Fear is the Mind Killer

        by boophus on Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 12:20:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Boy I wish I had read this prior to a recent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    pet adoption event I just attended.  I did EVERYTHING wrong!

    I have to learn to keep it simple and do more listening and less talking.

    Oy.  Well, now I know!  

    This ain't just for politics!

    866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

    by cany on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 06:51:04 PM PDT

  •  In the nick of time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnN, Eric Nelson

    This is an excellent, well written diary.

    If you do not mind I am going to email the DNC and the Dem reps here in my state the link to your diary.  Not sure what good it will do but I hope someone reads it and gets the message.

  •  You're never going to win a message war against (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, pattym922

    an opponent that lies repeatedly and the MSM never calls them on it.  Truth is always going to be more complicated than lies, and truth will never be as emotionally riveting as lies.  The only way lies ever lose to truth is if the lies are called lies by a "neutral" party, a referee.  In today's society, the referee doesn't give a shit, so people can lie with impunity.  The only way the Dems can win a message war is to lie as much as Repubs do.

  •  I like it, but disagree on one point (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, lotlizard, papicek, Greek Goddess, DawnN

    I've never been a "sell to the pain" guy.

    The pain goes away - they forget why they needed you.

    The pain doesn't go away - they wonder why they ever thought they needed you.

    Sell to the aspirations.

    They achieve them - you helped get them there.

    They don't achieve them - you were always in their corner.

    •  This is exactly how the GOP managed to get (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      papicek, DawnN

      poor, uneducated white people to support lowering taxes for rich, educated white people.

      Do I dare disturb the universe?

      by Greek Goddess on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 07:32:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  not entirely true... (0+ / 0-)

        they also were addressing a population who doesn't pay much attention, and told them that democrats are evil, brown socialists who want to Europeanize America.

        The aspirations part resonated lots less.

        Plus ça change we can believe in.

        by papicek on Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 04:20:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  YES 'The sun rising in the Morning' worked (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for Raygun and 'hope & change' worked for Obama. We can choose to become the party of hope and solidarity with all the people who aren't rich.

      People have enough fears and life difficulties with out some hope for a future that is better they are a drift and uneasy.... Depressing them and frightening them works only until they snap and attack even those who incited them.

      Fear is the Mind Killer

      by boophus on Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 12:26:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  you're right (0+ / 0-)

    it is sad how you roll.  too often there is no line between marketing and lying.

    Republicans - the party that wrecked America

    by ecologydoc on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 07:34:57 PM PDT

  •  It's all about trust. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, lotlizard

    There is only one message.


    The GOP wants us to trust no one.  They want to undermine trust in the government.

    Economic insecurity diminshes trust.  At a physiological level - economic insecurity makes it harder for us to feel restful, peaceful, and focused.

    The Democrats have to convince the nation that they are trustworthy.

    And when they act in ways that are confusing, secretive, controlling, etc., the Democrats diminish that trust.

    Full Disclosure: I am not Ben Leming. But I think he's pretty cool.

    by Benintn on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 07:37:20 PM PDT

  •  A pretty smart guy once said... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, ecologydoc

    ...that propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.

    I can't help but think that better spin, glossier distortions and slicker oversimplifications will only help bring about conditions that ultimately favor the wealthy investor class, regardless of party affiliation, and not small-d Democrats and working-class communities.
    Which is exactly why the truth will remain wrapped tight on it's dusty shelf, unused, ignored and untouched like the threat it is. The privileged heavy hitters have way too much to lose by opening that particular package.

    So spin it will be. Again.


    Illegal Alien: Term used by the descendents of foreign colonizers to refer to the descendents of indigenous people

    by mojada on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 07:52:46 PM PDT

  •  and how about our constructive critics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    Isn't it great for branding when Democrats who claim to have supported the President and disagree with his economic policies express themselves by calling the President a corporate whore, naive, stupid, and surrounded by criminals?

    How about when people who claim to be Democrats and want a stronger health reform bill are not interested in presenting their case, but rather want to explain that the President is a puppet, manipulated by an unprincipled con-man who is his Chief of Staff?

    The immense effort our "allies" on the left put into reinforcing Republican branding is one of the great marketing stories of our time.

    But please, remember that their efforts to paint the entire project of the Democratic party as a futile effort of suckers is "dissent" and any objections are rank oppression.

  •  webranding, YAY! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm a marketer too, and former creative director/marketing VP of the world's coolest company...imho. :)  During the Kerry campaign, we were flabbergasted by the stupidity and cluelessness of the candidate packaging. I've had occasion to interact with some of the Dem "experts" and I wasn't impressed. Plus, some of these guys are so turf conscious and defensive, they'd rather LOSE than consider a rethink of their tired, boring strategies. Liberals comprise the staffs of the best marketing machinery in the world. Think Apple, Google- trained American marketing geniuses can really make a significant difference to political outcomes. We need to ASSERT. Great diary!

    Wag more, bark less.

    by sgrAstar on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 09:53:22 PM PDT

  •  How about some brand names too? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for writing this diary... I've been complaining about this for a long time too. I think a lot of people greatly underestimate the importance of this. I don't think they realize that people need to be sold on the very concept of effective government, and they need to keep being sold on it again and again.

    While we're at it, how about some actual catchy names for bills and initiatives? Even the military names their operations. Tell me, what is the health care reform act called? HCR? HIR? Obamacare???? I know it has an actual name, but heck if I know what it is. Even if it's a crummy name, nobody is using it.

    How about MedicAll? (a misnomer for sure, but at least it's something) How about any name at all???

    About the only initiative I can think of that has a decent name is Cap and Trade. Sounds kind of like Cap 'n' Crunch... and who doesn't like that? It's catchy, and actually describes the concept of the bill.

    The Republicans are great at this, though in an evil way of course (i.e. Death Tax, etc.).

    Can you imagine if Toyota released a new car and just called it "The new reliable car that gets good gas mileage". Do you think it'd sell? Or, what if Apple called their new gizmo the "Touchscreen Portable Tablet" Sheesh! Yet, for some reason, it's no big deal when the  most important health care bill in years has no discernible name?

    I wrote a diary about this some time ago:

    Freedom isn't free: Pay your taxes!

    by walk2live on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 10:28:38 PM PDT

  •  The Repubs kick our ass with their simple (0+ / 0-)

    message: Libs = Bad, Conservies = good. They pound it and pound it and pound it, and their sheeple lap it up. Requires no thinking. Palin is "successful" becuz that's the only message she has, and that's the message her sheeple want to hear.
    "See, Marge, I told ya Libruls are bad! Sarah Palin just said so!"
    One thing the Repubs do very well is get their message out. Dems?? Not so much.

  •  Howard Dean did a pretty good job (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when he was head of the DNC.  Tim Kaine -- not so much:  the Massachusettes debacle, Virginia and Blob McDonnell . . . does Tim even show up for work?  WTF does he do to earn his paycheck??

    The diarist makes a good point about Democrats and getting our message across -- we're not focused enuf on one message -- and the tv ads that votevets are running are a case in point.  What exactly does the ad want viewers to do?  protest the war? stop buying gasoline?  vote for more liberals and Democrats???

    Too many times liberals take for granted that average citizens will follow the logic presented to them and reach the same conclusions as liberal messengers do.  Sorry, but it doesn't work out that way.  Skipping over the fine points of an argument and assuming that your audience will figure it out on their own is a big mistake.  Sometimes, trying to be too cute and/or subtle has the opposite effect: the message is misunderstood or confusing, which is worse than having no message at all.

    What is the DNC strategy for messaging, anyway?  Besides silence.

  •  Love this diary... (0+ / 0-) I love most of your stuff, webranding. Would you agree, as I do, that the Obama administration has gotten MUCH better (in the past 2-3 months) with their messaging? From my perspective as an OFA organizer, OFA's messaging has been a lot more concise, targeted and simple. When I asked our former state director about this, she attributed it, in part, to the hiring of Lynda Tran and the return of David Plouffe.

    She also so said, frankly, the people at the top started listening to the people at the bottom. And us folks on the bottom were saying "keep it simple, keep it direct, do NOT make me read off a laundry list when our opponents' simple, key messages are kicking our ass up and down the street."

    I think they are starting to get the message.

    OT, I believe you, too, are in Michigan. Where are you located?

    New .sig: It's "EClectablog", not "Electablog".
    Become an Eclectablog Facebook Fan!

    by Eclectablog on Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 03:05:25 AM PDT

  •  Two things... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    1. But the simple question is who in our party is doing what he does? Nobody I am aware of.

      This has been attempted in a half-hearted, amateur way, by the PCCC (IIRC). A message package was put out there and I was underwhelmed. Not only was the message uninspiring, but there was no polling or focus group data to illustrate just how the message was supposed to be targeted. This is the heart of the methodology Luntz uses. To be fair, his method is susceptible to gaming, yielding an unreal picture of a group's views on a particular issue.

    2. The GOP's best most effective messaging, works multiple sources to create the illusion of broad consensus. The think tanks will gin up a study, a news outlet will run a series of stories on the problem, and friendly expert opinion will be put front and center. Then the elected officials will step up. Lacking a base of rigorous scholarly and scientific institutions to lend gravitas to our policy proposals hurts. I have no problem with using university-based research, though, and it might be a good idea for the party to set up an office whose responsibility it is to conduct running surveys and report on the current literature on a variety of issues, instead of relying on ad hoc efforts. (I'll donate. Hell, if the lottery gods smile upon me, I'll set it up and run it myself.)
    3. There are two sides to the selling "message." First, the problem needs to be defined ("Bad breath?") Then the preferred policy position needs to be offered up as the solution ("Mouthwash!"). As I've said many, many times before during the HCR process, the problem was expressed wonderfully well. And still is, in nyceve's reclisted diary for example, but the solution has never been sold. Is it single payer? Then you sell this by asking the audience whether never having to worry about medical bills, copays, bankruptcy, savings for your kids' college, etc, is worth paying a tax for. Is it worth it to all of society? This was never done. At some point, progressives must begin offering solutions independent of our elected officials, who dominate our policy positions today.

    Great post. Keep 'em coming.

    Plus ça change we can believe in.

    by papicek on Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 04:08:40 AM PDT

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