Frank Luntz, the highly visible and right-leaning pollster, was in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. Our company sponsored a reception for him that was followed by a 30-minute speech to approximately 750 business leaders at the Economic Club of Indiana.
He was funny and made some good points. He certainly didn’t waste any time suggesting the Republicans are out of sync in their messaging and methodologies to reach an ever-growing frustrated public. His messaging was simple. Instead of talking about whatever Mitt was talking about (and flip-flopping along the way), Romney should have been talking about the, “hard-working American taxpayer.” And that’s a very large group of people — much larger than even the “middle-class” working Americans that President Obama made a fuss over.
In addition, Luntz suggested that the Obama campaign was artful in making the campaign about Mitt, a disconnected rich guy who closed blue collar factories and moved jobs overseas. Never once was Romney able to move the president’s attacks away from his perceived lack of empathy and understanding of Joe Six-Pack. Well, there was that first debate, yes. We actually saw Mitt as a human being, stripped of his handlers and pretty articulate in his messaging about Obama’s track record. But it was far from enough.
Messaging has become the pinnacle of communication theory and practice. No longer can the messaging be sort of “on point,” or even the least bit fuzzy. Oh no, it’s got to be sharp, tailored to the precise psycho-demographic, totally understandable and meaningful to the receptor. Dr. Vincent Covello, a man I had a chance to work with off and on for a decade or so, taught me a lot about messaging. He promotes the idea of three key messages and a few key facts to back up each point. He wanted the statements to be overtly positive and honed to resonate with the audience for which they are intended. Too many messages and too much nebulous language were a death knell for your communique.
Messaging has become the centerpiece of our communication feast, and without strong messaging, your offerings will fall flat. Just ask Mitt.