Five Lessons From This Messy Political Season

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We have a rule around the office that writing blogs about politics is not in our best interest. Like most businesses, we have clients on all sides of the political spectrum and the last thing we want to do is offend them with our political insights.

So…I’m going to very cautiously jump into the political abyss and see if there are some lessons we might have all learned thus far in this extremely messy political season. Let’s see if I can do it without taking sides.

Lesson #1

More is Not Always Better. We learn this lesson nearly every political year. At some point the ads, even the persuasive ones, start to turn you against the candidate. Lesson for all of us: hit your point and move on.

Lesson #2

Don’t Under-Estimate the Power of One Event to Help or Hurt Your Organization. The first debate where most pundits gave Hillary Clinton the win had a big impact on the polls. Lesson for all of us: you can change the trajectory for your organization through a singular effort like a rockin’ conference you sponsor or a powerful speech your CEO gives. Conversely, a single crisis can send you reeling and rock your organization to its core.

Lesson #3

Email is Not Private (and you are probably on video right now). I don’t think anyone wished for this reality, but our privacy has been invaded at a profound level. What it means for your organization: part of your company’s orientation needs to talk about the very public world we live in and the need to always use discretion. Of course this applies to social media, but it doesn’t stop there.

Lesson #4

The Past is Never in “The Past.”  The video of Donald Trump on the Access Hollywood bus has been tremendously damaging to his campaign. The fact that it’s 11 years-old doesn’t seem to matter much. Lesson for all of us: expect the unexpected. Have a crisis plan that considers how you’ll deal with the unthinkable. This is a scale kind of thing: if you’re a mom and pop organization, a few pages of notes about how you’d handle a crisis may be enough. If you’re an organization with a board, you’ll want to do much more.

Lesson #5

The Personal is Always More Persuasive than the Analytical. The discussions of sexual impropriety – whether Donald Trump’s or Bill Clinton’s – have captured much more media attention than the candidates’ view on issues like the trade deficit the U.S. has with China. Lesson for all of us: to gain the attention of your audience you need to stress the personal. Focus on how what you’re doing is changing lives for the better, and use the stories from real people to illustrate your points.