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Strategic Communications and the Midterm Elections

How the job of communications professionals has changed in the age of rapid information.

The midterm elections offer some important lessons in how the job of communications professionals has changed in the age of rapid information. It’s safe to say that the traditional focus of our work—messaging—matters less and less. Indeed, the decisive factor in wins and losses up and down ballots across the country generally was not strategy at all.  It was tactics.

Communications professionals, whether working for political candidates or commercial clients, tend to begin their work with a market-facing, big picture focus: What’s the mood of the voter/consumer and what can we say that speaks to that mood?

Our job has long been seen as packaging (or re-packaging) our client in a way that matches what their potential supporters/buyers want.  But this, we must now understand, is not the work.  The data that has informed our ideas of what people want—polls, surveys and focus groups—can no longer be relied upon to guide the creation of a message that, if effectively delivered, will win the election or make the sale.

So what can we do? Read on to understand more about this challenge, and the opportunities it presents.