Top Obama aide Eric Shultz believes UK political parties should take a leaf out of the marketer’s handbook at the upcoming snap general election.
In an interview at The Drum’s Future of Marketing event, the former president’s communications adviser expressed the opinion that parties need to stay on message. He said the key pieces of advice that he could give to communications officers for political parties would be simple: “Hone a message, identify your audience and make sure you get that message through to your audience.”
Schultz added: “The ones who succeed are that ones that have a compelling message and are able to sustain that for the duration of a campaign and make sure that’s being communicated to their voters.”
His advice for the promotion of candidates was similarly candid: “Make sure that you know what motivates them, you know what drives them when they wake up in the morning. That’s the type of stuff that voters are looking for.”
Schultz, who was principal deputy press secretary and special assistant to president Obama during his second term in office, spoke about the problems faced by candidates in political elections, saying: “Every candidate makes mistakes but you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got a message that you’re comfortable with, that your candidate is authentic and that candidate is comfortable in his or her own skin.”
He had more sobering advice for communications professionals of all stripes in the untrusting world of Trump, Brexit and ‘fake news’.
“I think for marketers in the future my best piece of advice is – always be honest.”
He continued: “Make sure that you maintain your credibility and you’re putting your best foot forward. If you don’t have relationships with the people you’re communicating with, and you don’t have the credibility to make an argument, then you’re wasting your time.”
Schultz’s message is perhaps beginning to chime with some party officials with Labour now revamping the successful Blair era PR slogan, “For the many not the few”, and the creative ad campaigns that look to bring home the alternative political message of the Greens.
You can read a full interview with Eric Schultz in the next issue of The Drum magazine.