Is your campaign message built on empathy? It should be.
That’s not to say your campaign should be soft or passive. Rather, building a campaign message around empathy demonstrates to voters that you not only understand their struggles and priorities, but you share them.
In this way, you make potential voters a part of your campaign. They identify with you because your struggles are their struggles, their priorities are your priorities. This will heighten the impact of your positive messages, and lessen the efficacy of your opponent’s attacks.
So, how can you determine if you’ve successfully built an empathetic campaign message? Simply ask yourself: Am I painting a portrait or holding up a mirror?
‘Portrait’ Messaging Versus ‘Mirror’ Messaging
I’ve written campaign messages now for nearly 16 years. One mistake I see repeated time and again is a message that focuses on the candidate’s past achievements solely for the sake of those achievements.
Campaign hobbyists like to talk about how elections are beauty pageants or popularity contests. There is some truth to that. However, that over-simplification ignores the fact that people can admire you and still vote against you.
Elections are NOT award shows. They are typically choices between several options for a single position.
To that end, you must convince voters that your candidacy is the ONE option that is best for them. The focus, then, should be on the voter(s), not you.
Instead of a glamorous glowing portrait of yourself, when voters look at your campaign’s messages they should see themselves looking back. This is empathy.
So, how can you do that? Here are three simple tips.
Watch Your I’s
In order to effectively demonstrate empathy, your messages need to be inclusive, making the reader feel as though they are a part of the message and that the message was crafted specifically with them in mind.
That’s difficult in mass-messaging campaigns, but a simple way to achieve that is to limit the number of times you refer only to yourself (I, me, mine) and refer more often directly to the reader (you, your, us, we, our).
The next time you write a speech, press release, or social media post, count the number of times you use “I” language versus “you” or “us” language. I bet the results will surprise you.
Connect Your Bio To Your Readers’ Priorities
Your biography, history, accomplishments all matter. However, they matter only insofar as they establish your credibility to the voters.
They can be used to establish your credibility as an expert on a complicated issue, or as someone who shares the voters’ point of view, or as someone who couldn’t possibly have done what your opponent is daring to accuse you of.
Whenever you talk about yourself and what you have done, always use it to communicate why that makes you the best choice to accomplish the voters’ priorities.
Limit Lonely Power Poses
There are certainly times when depicting yourself, or your candidate, as an implacable image of authority (standing near gothic architecture, wearing power business attire, with arms crossed) is the right choice.
However, those times are much rarer than you would think when looking at how most candidates choose to depict themselves.
Most of the time your voters should see themselves in how you dress and who you surround yourself with in your images. Pepper your social media and advertisements with pictures of you with real, live people from your district.
This does NOT mean that you should be inauthentic. Voters are especially attuned to pandering, and it almost always backfires. It simply means that you should choose images of yourself that bring you closer to your voters, rather than widening the gap between you.
Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll find that your prospective voters are more likely to become supporters, and even evangelists, for your campaign.
So, tear down those fancy portraits you’ve been painting, and start putting up some mirrors.
Need help getting started? Victory Enterprises can supply all of your campaign needs. When YOU are ready for Victory, we’ll be there.