Archive for November 7th, 2012

Five lessons from the US election campaign

posted by Edward Jones

1. BE BOLD.

I was fortunate enough to attend a debate hosted by H+K last Monday on the US Presidential election, never ones to blow our own trumpet enough, it’s worth saying it was an excellent event. One of the panelists, Philip Stephens, a columnist for the FT hit upon the idea of Obama treating the first term of his Presidency as a delicate vase. Incidentally, the FT ran this cartoon (£) a few days later. The idea that Obama hadn’t been bold enough struck a chord with the audience. As I have sought the views of colleagues it is clear that in the UK at least, commentators think he could have been bolder, both in his Presidency and the campaign. That is the enduring hope for the second term.

2. IF DISASTER STRIKES. FOCUS ON THE DISASTER.

The President’s response to Hurricane Sandy served him well. Not least because of the ringing endorsement of the Republican, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie. This WSJ On Leadership article is an excellent summary of its impact.

3. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

It’s a simple enough concept and one we’re mostly familiar with. My colleague, Ted Robinson, who has followed developments more closely than most in the UK at least (I’ve asked him to write a post on this too), highlighted the confusion within the Republican camp with who they were targeting, asking:

“Are the GOP just communicating to whites or are they the party of social conservative hispanics? Lesson: decide who your audience is – does it surprise you?”

He had previously highlighted that…

“The Republicans have to win back California as they did under Nixon and Reagan – winning 49% of the pop vote and getting nailed in the electoral college sucks”

Quite. What drove this point on audience home for me though and brings me on to my fourth point is sophisticated use of digital…

4. USE DIGITAL. BE SOPHISTICATED.

The Obama camp, building on the success of their social media campaign and fundraising in 2008 have raised the bar. Again. They knew who they were targeting and they weren’t bashful about it, as this excellent piece from Will Foxton in the Telegraph attests.

5. DON’T OFFEND.

Romney’s campaign started to derail in the UK. Whilst the cynics said that doesn’t actually matter, it was only a part of a catalogue of well documented errors. Celebrated today on the Times website (£). 

For a view on what Cameron might learn, I can’t recommend Matthew D’Ancona’s piece in the Evening Standard today, highly enough.