Message chaos

Posted by on Aug 19, 2009 in Messaging
Message chaos

No matter where you stand on the issue of healthcare/health insurance reform, you have to admit that the Obama administration has done a terrible marketing job. Few understand the various plans under discussion. The administration has been forced onto the defensive by aggressive opposition, and their attempts at clarification have largely been useless. It is a little shocking that any president, even one determined to transcend partisan politics, could have gone into such a major initiative so naively, and so ill-prepared. Especially since so many people are already justly suspicious of government, and blown away by the scale of recent financial mismanagement.

There are some good lessons on messaging in this debacle.

A couple of Liberal commentators are put out with their leader for not being able to frame the proposal in simple, clear terms. In a rhetorical letter to the President, Thom Hartman wrote, “‘Medicare for anybody who wants it. Private health insurance for those who don’t. Easy message…”

Next, you might watch a video clip of Ariana Huffington on Countdown, in which she makes the following points (with suitable exasperation):

  • Obama probably had a grassroots army ready to spread the word, but they didn’t know what to say
  • Communication vacuums leave the door open for your competitors to position you, maybe decisively
  • The official spokespeople for your company need to be singing off the same page; the alternative is confusion and potential catastrophe

Finally, you might take a look at a Roger Ebert post on the power of memes, which clearly can work for ill as well as good.

Let us know what you think.