Tag Archives: CPAC

[cpac recap] Priority #1: Your Message

We all have Alzheimer’s because your mind retains basic ideas for only 16 days. It takes 7 repeated impressions for a message to be absorbed. — nationally syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray

Mowbray, an energetic speaker in his 30’s, is a media expert: he knows how much to tell the press, and precisely when so it makes the greatest impact.

Combine that knowledge with preceding speaker Christopher Doss, whose campaign work and historical studies collide in his talk on how to best craft your political message… What you get is uncommonly useful ideas for public activism.

A Leadership Institute veteran, Doss kicked off the morning with a selection of quotes from our Founding Fathers:

“Even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” – James Madison

“The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.” – Thomas Jefferson

Freedom must be worked out in each sector of society. There is no shortage of ideas to increase freedom—but how can we mobilize others around that message and make it viable? Doss and Mowbray use a simple formula.

M = E*C³ or Message = Emotion multiplied by (Credibility x Contrast x Connection)

Here’s how that formula works in real life…

Say your Message is limited government. How can you rephrase that? Coining the phrase “partial-birth abortion” and getting the media to use it won that debate for the pro-life cause.
– A Congressman can get his emotion into shrinking the state, because it’s directly related to individual freedom in America.
– To have credibility, this Representative must refuse the subsidies that many in his district demand.
– Such a bold stand also shows the contrast between this leader and the opposing candidate. (Republicans had no contrast with Democrats in ’06 and ’08, thus they lost.)

– Where many fumble is connection. To sustain your message, the folks who care about what you say need reminders on what it is, why it matters and how it’s playing out today.

Once you’ve thought through the Message Formula, dealing with the media becomes easy. Just stay on message. Reporters are not the enemy, but their goal is to put words in your mouth… through their questions.

It’s a balancing act to answer questions satisfactorily, while not giving the press much selection about what to print. Your message should make it into any answer (President Obama is a master at this).

Bottom line: stay on offense with your message and it will go a long way.

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[cpac recap] Politics is 75% relationships, 25% policy

First in a series of posts from my time at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC 2010)…

It’s common for me to criticize talk-show hosts who emphasize emotional connection over actual ideas (when I review Glenn Beck’s CPAC speech I heard live, you’ll get another dose.) But according to Ron Nehring, chairman of the Republican Party in California, that’s almost exactly how you win in politics.

His seminar, part of the training track offered by Leadership Institute at CPAC, was peppered with insights that showed how a “people person” will always succeed in politics:

A 30-second visit in person to a voter is 10 times more effective than any phone or direct mail contact

Barack Obama won a majority of both the Jewish vote and Muslim vote. He won majorities of both environmentalists (who want the U.S. to build nothing) and trade unions (desperate for their workers to build anything.) He did it by showing he cared about people’s needs, not by staying 100% pure to a political ideology.

Americans hire drivers, not mechanics.

Nehring, who has helped keep Republicans together in a hostile liberal environment, closed with four principles to win:

  1. Listen: “You have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.”
  2. Learn: “Demonstrate that you’ve really been listening.”
  3. Help: “Your candidacy should help local groups like the Chamber of Commerce, TEA Party, etc. achieve their goals.”
  4. Lead: “Build relationship with all stakeholder groups you could possibly influence – folks on your side and those far outside your comfort zone.”

You can still be a conservative purist, as long as publicly you present the right emphasis: winning candidates, campaigners or (I suppose) even media personalities follow this strategy. Nehring’s ideas clearly line up with what I’ve learned — in seven months on Capitol Hill — about how politics works. Your thoughts?