I love politics for two reasons. First, I actually enjoy the process and the debates. Second, and most important, the presidential-campaign season in particular is ripe with lessons for business communicators - and that includes you!
Let me be clear, this is not about red or blue, though the graphic above might tell you my subject is the Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump. But I'm writing about only his communication habits, not the issues. This is a case study for business people about staying on message. So how is Mr. Trump scoring considering the stay-on-message target? Let's analyze his recent performance with less than 100 days to go before the vote.
First, does Mr. Trump have a message, an actual communication target? That's the first question for any candidate and any business. Do you have a communication target to shoot for? Mr. Trump surely does. Look at his website, and you'll see seven ideas listed under the "Positions" tab. Good targets for his messaging. But even they're secondary to "Make America Great Again," his umbrella message. First goal: target spotted.
Second, is Mr. Trump's communication hitting the target, is he talking about those positions? No, actually. He's spent several days reacting to off-target items. He's talked about the Democratic Convention. He's talked about a crying baby. He's talked about a video that didn't really exist. He's talked about what he sees as a rigged election process. Nobody forced him to talk about these things, to miss his communication targets.
What's worse, the media has followed him off target, broadcasting his poorly focused messaging. It's well known that Mr. Trump is good at gaining media attention. He needs to remember that this can work to his advantage, or his disadvantage. Every business owner and marketer needs to remember the same thing. You can work with media to deliver your messages - on target or off.
It's not difficult to stay on message - the hard part is crafting the message in the first place, and Mr. Trump has that down already. He just seems unable to keep focused on his targets.
UPDATE: I wrote this post prior to Mr. Trump's speech Monday at the Detroit Economic Club. This is a great opportunity to see if he - like any business communicator - can stay on message now and continue telling the story he wants to tell.