Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Election 2008

There is no doubt that the current election campaign is by far the most interesting and close campaigns in the history of American politics. It began with Hillary v Obama, then moved on to Obama v McCain and now its Palin/McCain v Biden/Obama. Boy, what a journey for these presidential candidates!

I am following the election closely--not as a citizen of America who will be deciding the fate of these candidates by casting my vote, but as a strategic communications professional who learns from these events everyday. This campaign is rich with learnings for PR aspirants with stark indications of what to do and what not to do and the best practices. Obama's messaging ("change"), his framing and extraordinary oratory make him one of the most likeable candidates, while McCain's messaging ("country first") and strong story content (war veteran, personal sacrifices etc) make him the most logical choice.

Today, Gov Sarah Palin got a chance to make her case to the country. Her speech was important--to introduce her to the nation, to convince the nation of her leadership abilities and to explain the recent media reports and controversies surrounding her family. All eyes were on her today. She delivered the speech with poise and confidence. While there will be numerous reports in top national media and online blogs, newsites etc critiquing her speech, from a communications standpoint, I believe her speech was indeed a great effort on her part.

Sarah did a great job addressing criticism on her lack of experience, "small town" image, taking on the opponents on key issues like energy independence (which is her sort of her expertise!) and national security. She was playful at times, serious and ferocious at other times. She easily connected easily with the audience too ("hockey moms"!)

Perceptions matter and there is no better example of how communications can shape perceptions, than in this year's election campaigns. Like other fellow Americans, I would be eager to see the outcome of this fight. Meanwhile, effective communication strategies will continue to dictate victories or losses for these candidates.

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