Architecture of a Successful Political Message — In A Digital Age?

Here’s one Politics Online Conference session you shouldn’t miss (besides my own open-source CMS nerdathon) — Pete Snyder, my boss at New Media Strategies and a veteran of more than ten years in the social media space, will hold the closing keynote conversation with Republican advertising guru Mark McKinnon, moderated by GW prof Dennis Johnson. They’re all three well-known smartguys, so it should be a fascinating discussion. The topic? The architecture of a successful political message, with a particular emphasis on messaging in a digital age.

To start the thinking process off, Dennis and I came up with a few questions for the brave panelists to think about over the weekend. And to help pique your interest, we’re reprinting ’em below — though you’ll have to swing on by the panel at 4:30 Tuesday to see the magic that results. Of course, these are just starter questions, but they give a sense of the topics Pete, Mark and Dennis should be covering. Looking forward to it!

  1. What does it mean to have a political message in the current communications environment?
  2. With so many niches (cable channels, media sites, blogs, social sites), many reaching relatively small numbers of people, how do you tailor a message to reach either 1) a broad swath of the population, or 2) just the people who’ll respond to it? [Follow-on: Is it possible to find a message so broad that it can transcend the balkanization of our information-space?]
  3. What kind of political message can fit into 140 (twitter) or 160 (sms) characters? More generally, what about mobile and messaging?
  4. What media fit what kinds of political messages, and vice versa?
  5. What happens when you have individual activists spreading a political message? The trade-off: the authenticity and effectiveness of someone speaking to their own tribe in its own language vs. the danger of an extended game of “telephone” that results in the message being mangled in transmission.
  6. Is it meaningful to say that something called “message control” even exists anymore?
  7. How does online video differ from television? Both in the specific sense of “how is a successful youtube clip similar to and different from an effective television commercial,” and in the more general sense of “how are the techniques, tactics, styles and content more broadly different, between internet video as a medium, compared with everything television does — news coverage, live event broadcast and commercials.”

Remember, Friday’s the last day to pick up your POLC badge — if you haven’t ordered one already, it’s time get a move on, yo.


Written by
Colin Delany
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