With a Clinton and a Bush both running for president again we are reminded of that famous Bill Clinton campaign admonition -- "It's the economy, stupid," a simple catch phrase intended to keep the campaign on track with what was really important to voters.
As public affairs practitioners we are often bombarded with the message, "It's the technology, stupid." And that's just, well...stupid.
Austin James has a brilliant essay that sets the record straight about the media's attempts to portray each election as the outcome of successful new technology. The "Facebook" election, the "YouTube" election, the "Spotify" election and so on. He calls it the "Bullshit Shiny Story Syndrome." He writes, "Technology cannot decide the election, because technology doesn't vote." More James:
There is no “old” or “new” media. It evolves and contributes. There isn’t an either/or scenario at play here. Radio did not displace door-to-door and Twitter will not displace phone calls.
And that is not stupid.
Earlier this week, and related, I attended an event hosted by the local Public Relations Society of America chapter here in Seattle. The guest speaker was Alex Thompson, vice president of communication and public affairs for REI. He spoke about the importance of PR helping organizations finding their core values, staying true to that and building communications around that core. This seems related, to me, to James' point. We have to first understand the value we bring to the marketplace -- political or commercial -- and what is really important and unique to us and our audiences. If we can make sure the message is the right one first, the "how" we communicate it will follow.
Make sure your public affairs campaign is keeping that focus, and is not being distracted by the newest bright shiny object.
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Scott Barker has more than 27 years of experience in public affairs communication. He has worked with Fortune 100 companies, senior level government officials, political leaders and candidates to deliver winning communications campaigns.