Three Steps For Staying On Message During Your Campaign - National Democratic Training Committee

People rarely remember everything said on the campaign trail. Most of the time, they only take in parts of your speech. So, staying on message throughout a political campaign is imperative. 

While redundancy seems excessive, repetition makes a message stick. Depending on the person, it takes 7 – 20 times for an individual to easily recall a message.

With this in mind, this is how to create and sustain a core message:

Find Your Story  

A concise core message tells voters why you’re the best person for the office and what you’ll do if elected. It is simple and to the point. It explains why you decided to run in the first place. The best, most memorable core messages are rooted in a candidate’s story of self.

For instance, former President Barack Obama’s core message still resonates with people today. Throughout his campaign, President Obama spoke candidly with voters about his childhood, and how his father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas. 

Obama’s vulnerability inspired Americans and convinced them he had integrity and honesty. He confided his story to Americans. In return, they felt they could trust him with the country. 

When finding the perfect core message for a campaign, there are a few things to remember. First, don’t get a tagline confused with a core message. Obama’s tagline emphasized hope and change, but that wasn’t his core message. Make sure the distinction is clear for your political messaging. 

Avoid simply sharing your resume or providing a laundry list of policy changes. Don’t let your core strengths and policy ideas get lost in a barrage of campaign materials. Furthermore, don’t let audiences lose track of why you’re running in the first place. Instead, seek to energize and motivate your voter base. This is your chance to share your story. Tell it well.

Stick to Your Message

Once the core message is identified and refined, stick to that message. When running for office expect to have an enormous amount of voter interactions. As a result, your main challenge is to include your core message in every conversation. This keeps you focused and ensures each voter hears your story.

By staying on message, you’ll be more effective communicating with others. People will remember your strongest, most convincing stances.

Over the course of a campaign, there will be a lot of wildcard questions thrown your way. No matter how much you practice, it’s impossible to prepare for everything. When you don’t know the answer to a question pivoting back to the core message is an effective strategy. This technique instills a sense of confidence and comfort in voters, even if you haven’t prepared a response to a specific question. 

Remind voters of your strengths, motivation for running, and experience as a leader. While nobody is perfect, this will help minimize mistakes while campaigning.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to learn to pivot back to the core message is through practice. Find friends, staff, or family members who can role play different scenarios with you. For instance, your partner can pretend to be a local reporter or a concerned voter at a town hall. They can ask pointed questions about your policies or plans for the future. 

Oftentimes, people try to find inconsistencies in your vision or promises. Running through a wide range of possible scenarios makes a candidate and campaign more likely to stay consistent throughout the campaign. The more comfortable you are answering questions from family and friends, the more prepared you will be when reporters or opponents ask the same questions.

Maintaining consistency over the campaign means you practiced. Learn how to interweave your core message into any conversation, and make sure it fits all narratives. 

Creating and sustaining a core message is one of the most important parts of a campaign and communications plan. It allows the best parts of your story to emerge, and forges meaningful connections with voters. It helps you win, and shows voters you are the right person for the necessary work ahead.

Craft Your Campaign’s Core Message

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