With so many channels of communication available, organizations have to be aggressive to be heard above the digital din. Public relations, corporate, brand and advocacy communicators have become more active – and in some cases more assertive – when engaging target influencers and communities. But should the same tactics be used when waging a political campaign versus a brand campaign?
It may well come down to how you perceive credibility and differing public standards.
First, credibility. We advise corporate clients that speaking early, honestly and openly elevates credibility. But after you speak, it’s the subsequent action – what you’re actually doing – that builds credibility and trust more than words. A corporate brand can’t build trust simply by claiming this virtue. A brand that actually engages, listens, and then delivers on a specific brand promise has something real to talk about. On the other hand, in politics, candidates often try to avoid what’s real by “selling” the image of a person and his/her ideas, and ducking details that might offend a particular constituency. Many voters judge politicians by what they think they stand for based on slogans, advertisements and carefully calibrated messages.
Second, differing public standards. While trust is at all-time-lows for both politicians and business leaders, it seems that the bar is set lower for the politicians. Less is expected of them. Ironically, more is forgiven of them – especially if you share some of their perspectives on big issues. It seems that we the people have a high tolerance for politicians waging nasty, negative attacks on their opponents. Business leaders and brands are held to a different and higher standard. Brands need to take the high road and while they can be aggressively competitive, it has to be about your own brand attributes, not the competitors’ deficits.
So, what can corporate brand communicators learn from the political world? Mostly, do not borrow the same tactics and remember:
- “Campaign” means a wholly different thing in the corporate world then it does in politics
- Bashing never works when trying to elevate a corporate brand
- You cannot “tell” your public to trust you, you must speak of doing – and build trust through actions
We would like to hear your views on:
- Corporate vs. political campaigns
- Does bashing ever work in the corporate arena (other than making advertisers happy)?
- What’s the best way to communicate trust?
We’ll share responses on our blog this month.