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In Politics and Public Relations, Finding the Right Positioning and Messaging Will Put You Over the Top

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Many parallels exist between the worlds of public relations and political campaign strategies and none are as critical as creating strong positioning statements and convincing key messages that resonate with target audiences.

As the primary campaign for San Diego’s next mayor wraps up on Nov. 19, superior positioning and messaging will have catapulted one of the political candidates to victory or two of them into a runoff.

In a broader context, positioning and messaging tell a story – it could be about a candidate, campaign, product launch or rebranding initiative. The challenging part is figuring out how to tell the story effectively in order to build or strengthen relationships with audiences. At NST, one of our core disciplines is helping our clients, from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofit organizations and start-ups, think strategically through their situations to develop positioning and messaging strategies designed to help the organization stand out from the competition.

Effective positioning and messaging for political and public relations campaigns capitalize on core differentiators to fill a unique space in the minds of the target audience. For example, U-T San Diego just ran an interesting article about two of the mayoral candidates who are using the title “educator” as a core differentiator in the campaign to help them stand out in the minds of voters.

Developing a strong communications strategy with effective positioning and messaging can have a worthwhile return on investment for long-term relationships with target audiences, and in the political world, it can place a candidate first in the hearts and minds of voters. To get the conversation going, here are a few quick tips for developing effective positioning and messaging:

  • Be different. Understand who the competition is and what makes a product, service or brand different from the competition.
  • Asset determination. High-speed, most affordable, state-of-the-art or safety – determine the assets the audience cares about and ensure they are part of the conversation.
  • Honesty is the best policy. There is no need to stretch the truth or make a misleading first impression with the audience to accomplish the broader goals outlined in a communications strategy. Business Insider provided a roundup of 14 ad scandals that gave companies a black eye for misleading product positioning and messaging.
  • Be emotional. Tug on the heartstrings of the audience by telling a compelling story filled with emotions. New eyeglasses don’t just allow a consumer to see better. New eyeglasses enhance a consumer’s ability to experience a fantastic life with family and friends.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, each campaign cycle my fellow NSTers feed my hunger for analyzing each candidate’s positioning and messaging strategy by bringing in the mailers flooding their mailboxes. More than 30 different mailers have landed on my desk in the past few weeks. The messages are out there. We will know in a few days which ones put a candidate over the top.

What are the campaign messages that stand out in your mind?

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