January 20, 2005

Building A Message

Deep in the bowels of this Mark Schmitt post on George Lakoff, I noticed a few comments worth quoting. First from praktike:
What Democrats need to recognize is that there isn't any "one message to rule them all"--the market for politics is extraordinarily fragmented, and the key to winning is to identify different messages and approaches that resonate with different audiences in such a way that the numbers add up in you favor.
Next from Billmon:
Praktike is quite right, and that's one of the reasons why when the Republicans want strategic communication tips, they don't read books by linguists -- they go to the advertising whores and the PR hacks, who have lots of experience slicing and dicing target markets.
That seems exactly right to me. And it's part of the reason why I'd rather have some "black ops" dude in the DNC Chair, rather than a "public face of the party" like Howard Dean or Martin Frost. I'm just not convinced that the Democrats even need a unified message, or a public face. Part of the question here is strategic. Do you start with some grand overarching narrative and then tailor that message to individual bits of the fragmented political market? Or do you build up a grand narrative out of various targeted appeals? It seems that long ago, the conservative movement did the latter—taking up some of the strong cultural themes lying around in white religious communities, gathering up various pro-market themes, and uniting it all under the aegis of anti-Communism. Granted, nowadays the GOP has one dude who says "freedom" three times a minute and everyone sort of knows that that's the vision, but it didn't start out that way.
-- Brad Plumer 4:49 PM || ||