Disclaimer – while this post may come across as politically biased, it’s not. It’s purely about communication tactics that worked and those that didn’t.
As India gears up for elections in 2014, the last few months have seen a barrage of political communication across channels. And interestingly, the contesting parties have gone digital. They are making effective (and some not so effective) use of social, email, and mobile channels to spread their message (or propaganda if you please). And there is an immense machinery of content marketers, PR specialists, digital media experts and campaign managers supporting them. News channels are also using social media to gauge public sentiment in real time.
We all take pleasure in political gaffes and debates and conversations run ripe with who-bested-whom-in-what-area. This time social media is abuzz with chatter and Twitter seems to be the platform of choice with a multitude of #tags and pseudo-IDs. Facebook is not far behind with political memes doing rounds. On mobile, chat services such as Whatsapp are helping circulate news and/or poking fun at political big-wigs. This time the political conversation in India is definitely cheekier and in your face than ever.
And with our very vocal and public lives, there is no cupboard for the skeletons any more, as ridiculous as they may be (Kumar Vishwas had to explain an old poem that someone dug out!). So in this new political arena, what are the communication lessons for us?
- Prepare – The first lesson is of course ‘prepare’. We all saw what happened to Rahul Gandhi on national TV when a very mellow Arnab interviewed him. It was a political disaster that left the opposition laughing and his party-men cringing. He really did look like he was thrown in a lion’s cage with nothing to fight with. His responses were barely coherent! It was the interview of the decade. His first ever. And the nation had great expectations. What he delivered instead was comic relief. If only he had been briefed well, had clear objectives of what to leave the audience with, perhaps this could have been avoided. But instead, he ended up opening another can of worms for the congress (as if they didn’t have enough).
- Align – Ensure that all your stakeholders are getting and circulating the same message. Congress has bungled this alignment many times in the past year with Rahul Gandhi publicly dismissing decisions of other prominent member of the party. That is a communication disaster and sends a message that you are not sure of your own goals and objectives
- Give your message an identity – The face you put to your message makes a difference. People associate with the conviction the brand ambassador puts in their message. And one can always tell when someone doesn’t believe in what they are saying. BJP has done it very effectively by projecting Narendra Modi as its face. While there is deliberate ambiguity in who is actually going to be at the helm of congress.
I think I’ve run on long enough. What are your views on the war of words we are witnessing around us?