Toward a Winning Communications Strategy

Without a defined and implemented communications strategy, Republicans will lose more than the presidency in 2016.

It is ironic that at the present time the party of Ronald Reagan, the man known as “The Great Communicator” should so often find itself unable to clearly define those policies that prompted success in the 2014 election and to effectively counter the dangerous and unpopular positions held by the Obama administration and the Democratic Party.

The relentless opposition of the mainstream media, the bias infecting much of our educational system, and the lack of political involvement on the part of many of our citizens have created an environment that demands a strong strategic communications response if the false promises and propaganda of the Left is to be countered in any meaningful way. It is likewise essential that the communications plan be implemented well in advance of the months leading up to the 2016 election. Trying to convey a message just in advance of a deadline is not unlike the student who refuses to study until the night before the test. The results, in both cases, are sadly predictable.

The so-called “purchase cycle” is a marketing fundamental and consists of three distinct phases: (1) awareness, (2) preference, and (3) purchase. Whether the “sale” involves a product or an idea, an appreciation of the educational process involved in dealing with the prospect is essential, as is the realization that awareness and preference must be built over time, and competitive messages require a response.

A simple three-part strategy would go far in advancing the effort for 2016 and beyond. The relevant points involve: (1) articulation of the platform, (2) compelling a response from the opposition, and (3) exposing the fallacies on the Left in a timely and effective manner.

Because vapid generalities do not sell well over time (remember “Hope and change”), conservatives must be specific in articulating the key aspects of the party platform at every opportunity. To say, “We will repeal (or fix) ObamaCare” is less believable than stating, “We have introduced a bill that will repeal the onerous tax on medical devices that is part of ObamaCare,” or “We are advancing legislation right now to restore the 40-hour work week and promote more American jobs.” Other issues including terrorism (“How can we even discuss Homeland Security with a wide-open border?”), the economy (“Keystone? We’re still waiting.”), and immigration (“It’s not just about low-skilled workers; it’s about engineers and other professionals who will work for less and replace Americans.”) are extremely large questions with too many facets to be answered at once. By breaking them down into individual components popular with the public and expressing the platform in brief and impactive statements, it will establish firm and tactile positions with which people can identify. Rudy Giuliani’s comments about Obama’s lack of love for America have opened a discussion of his family’s communist background, of which the general public was largely unaware.

Harry Reid’s greatest utility to the Obama administration and to democratic senators was to protect them from having to cast their votes on issues that would attach them to an ideology repellant to most of the American people. Now that the Senate is in Republican hands, it is time to compel the Left to admit what it stands for. Their defeat in the most recent election indicates that their positions will quickly become untenable. If Senator McConnell has to adopt the methods Reid used in limiting the filibuster, then that is what must be done. Without it, the Republican mandate looks to have been abandoned and the party leadership weak and inconsequential.

Senators and representatives (and on a state level, governors) who support unpopular positions defined by the administration must be immediately exposed. Immediacy is key, as it does no good to remind the public a year or six months after the fact, when the news cycle is long past, that they have been betrayed by their elected representatives. Effective advertising is an educational process that takes place over time. Although it is expensive to maintain an ongoing presence on the air, in print, and in electronic media, it is the only means of countering the pervasive influence of the mainstream media. Moreover, such action will not only work well in the long-term presidential race but will ensure continued control of the House and Senate.

As simple as it might sound, a strategy such as this requires a great deal of effort in terms of coordination, continuity, and financial support. Once implemented, however, it becomes a natural and effective process.

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