Personal Corporate Communication, Obama Style
I forget exactly which IMA project prompted me to sign up for the Obama campaign, but it was fairly early on. So I had a ring-side seat as the campaign grew momentum, and was able to watch our president’s particular online communication style. I believe corporations and non-profit organizations can learn a great deal from the new techniques his campaign staff used to get his message across.
Here are some of the qualities I observed about President Obama’s communication techniques that can be extrapolated into any business or non-profit organization:
- Well-timed communication. Someone on his staff must have figured out the right formula, because I never felt that the frequency was intrusive. Yet every time I was in danger of forgetting about the candidate (starting from very early in the campaign, remember), another message would pop into my in-box.
- The personal touch. It may sound silly, especially when I know how easy it is to program personalization into an eMail campaign, but it really did feel personal when my messages began with “Dear Michelle…” The messages themselves were also written very skillfully, emphasizing a personal touch. People in fact do respond well when it feels like a real person is talking directly to them.
- Distributed communication. Messages were sent out by a wide variety of people – from interns, staffers, supporters, and even (my personal favorite) from Michelle Obama. This gave the candidate an opportunity to focus on specific issues, allowing a student, for instance, to talk about the future of education. How do you use distributed communication in your business? Not every communication needs to come from the CEO’s office. Give your staff a chance to talk about their issues. Invite your best customers to add their voices as well.
- Immediacy. Some of the eMails began: “I just gave a speech to…” “We are just coming from a rally…” There were even messages on the night President Obama clinched the Democratic nomination and on the night of the election itself. This type of immediacy, giving you a “you are there” quality, requires a great deal of forward planning. But it engages people in ways that a less immediate message will not. For your business, plan for some messages to be sent from the trade show fair or during a conference, from a podium or stage.
- Follow Through. When President Obama promised to report back, he followed through on that promise. Transparency was one of the keystones of his campaign, and it wasn’t one that he forgot in the flush of victory. This is clear from the fact that our President is still sending out eMail messages, dealing with such issues as our economic recovery. In fact, this morning’s message was to announce a new Web site, http://www.recovery.gov/. This type of follow through provides immense credibility – whether it’s coming from the Oval Office or your own.
[PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION]