A few lessons from Obama

For anyone operating in the world of public relations or communications you could do worse than look at the principles behind Barak Obama’s campaign for the White House and how they can be applied to your own business…
1. Keep it simple and be consistent. Everything about the Obama campaign was big and yet simple. The big ideas addressed core issues that are crucial to the majority of Americans. They were communicated and addressed in a really simple way – consistency and simplicity ruled together for maximum effect.
2. Stay true to your message. Change was the one word that summarised the campaign and was referred to again and again. The prospect of moving away from a Republican government for the first time in eight years symbolised it all: change – that, in turn, led people to believe in change for the good. By simply staying true to the message, the campaign created a ground swell of opinion that it was change that was needed to win. Obama’s website is even called
3. Stick to your objectives. Obama’s campaign was rigorously committed to its objectives and every aspect of activity was focused on achieving one, some or all of them simultaneously. Not only did it achieve the primary objective of getting people to vote for Obama, but the campaign also successfully achieved its fundraising objective - more than £500m dollars.
4. Get to the people that matter. At the heart of the campaign was a quest to embrace and train local people to build volunteer bases in different communities – this led to one of the biggest grassroots campaigns in the world today. Individual advocacy is the biggest driver of sales – turning one supporter into an advocate was worth at least 10 votes, as the results show.
5. Make people feel empowered and involved. This was the real secret of its success. Every single person involved at the grassroots was made to feel like he or she had a role to play. Whether participating in a rally, donating or training, the campaign ensured that voters became the most important participants and felt like their contributions really mattered. Every piece of communication was personally addressed to the recipient with a personal message of thanks from Obama.
6. Refine your data gathering and completion. Such was the scale of the compilation of data that the campaign’s different hits reached millions every time. A centralised online database meant every detail was recorded and allowed for easy cross-referencing of information and creation of lists to target specific groups, ensuring that the communication was right on target every time.
7. Embrace different media forms. The Washington Post described Obama as the “king of social networking”. During the general election 46 per cent of Americans used the internet, e-mail or text messaging to get information about the candidate compared with 29 per cent who watched network TV news and 34 per cent who read newspapers. As a result, online activity including videos, YouTube, myspace and FaceBook were used to maximum effect.
8. Getting the language right. Every element of the campaign used language that captured the audiences and had maximum impact – the choice of words and tone had to be in harmony with the campaign’s overall vision and messages. It was about using few words for maximum effect – Yes We Can, For the Change We Need...
9. Mass integration. Undoubtedly the mass integration of all forms of communications and data gathering are mutually beneficial components of a cohesive political operation. This was the key to the campaign’s overall success. It shows that consistency and a conjoined approach works. To say it broke new ground would be an understatement.
10. Protect your brand. It’s all very well building up a successful brand but it is as important to ensure that you maintain and protect it. With expectations now well and truly raised and that’s what all will be watching. Obama’s next challenge is to protect his reputation which will be another fascinating story to tell… I’m sure.

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