President Obama utilized social media unlike any politician ever had during his successful run for the White House. His campaign energized a traditionally unmotivated demographic base by taking a first mover position in the digital space. The message was clear and concise. It was refreshing and revolutionary. Politics will never be the same.
A year later and everyone in Congress is tweeting, setting up Facebook groups, and using every other social media pipe available to reach key stakeholders across the US. It's great to see the evolution of communications with our elected officials, but in their rush to be digitally savvy they have lost focus on what is truly most important: the message.
A perfect example is the ongoing healthcare reform debate. Both sides of the aisle are aggressively exploiting social media sites, but no one has articulated a plan that the public can both understand and rally behind. Instead of throwing around buzzwords such as “public option,” and “death panels,” that mean nothing to the average American, sell us on why your plan is the best for America and how we will implement it.
Politicos would be doing themselves (and in turn, all of us) a huge favor if they took the time to craft a clear and articulate message surrounding aspects of the plan they support. Communications professionals have been taking this approach for years: 1) Identify key stakeholders; 2) Develop messaging with supporting proof points; and 3) Select the appropriate outlet to reach said stakeholders. If you fail at any of these three elements your communications program will implode.
We will see healthcare reform in the US, but I guarantee that the winning plan will come from the politician that can break down their plan to its basics and clearly articulate it to all Americans.