Last Wednesday night we hosted Kyle’s talk covering the deeper side of how political campaigns are managed and their similarities/opportunities in the business and brand world. Some key notes below:
Two things that make politics special
1 – Everyone works to a specific date and time (voters and campaigners) which draws a decision to be made – even if it’s a non-decision (Apple do this with their recurring September announcement for example)
2 – You don’t want everyone to participate, there is an active effort to push out people that do not service your specific campaign.
Kyle introduced us to the ‘Overton Window Theory’, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas the public will accept. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton (1960– 2003), a former vice president of the Mackinac Centre for Public Policy, who in his description of his window claimed that an idea’s political viability depends mainly on whether it falls within the window, rather than on politicians’ individual preferences. According to Overton’s description, his window includes a range of policies considered politically acceptable in the current climate of public opinion, which a politician can recommend without being considered too extreme to gain or keep public office.
The Gay Rights movement in the US is an example where over a 25yr lifetime nudges were made towards the end (inevitable) goal, incrementing change rather than screaming for the absolute.
1 – Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT)
2 – Defence of Marriage Act
3 – Marriage in Massachusetts
4 – Repeal of DADT
5 – Magic #23
6 – Full mairrage equality
This was known as the Push theory, where something can be seen as inevitable over time and its a matter of making sensible pushes to win wide support. However when change is not seen as inevitable (the 2nd Amendment to bear arms) there is also a Pull theory, you have to pull it far across as hard as possible and bring people into your extreme argument as small changes don’t lead far enough given the fight involved.
We’ve seen one of the main changes in recent political campaigns be that we used to believe facts and debate around them, now we don’t do that, we debate around opinion more. The rise of social media creates an eco chamber and false equivalency, we are at a stage on where people believe their opinions are facts.
A good campaign will marry the ‘Factual/Actual’ argument with the ‘Emotional/Inevitable’
A charity, social cause, or political organisation should be looking to answer is ‘How do we put ourselves out of a job?’ (this echoes of Jim Collins ‘Level 5 Leadership theory’)
The practical steps of a campaign: Decide polling day = Find the money = Identify opposition and allies = Collect data = Define theme = Develop message = Test and validate = Face to face = Direct mail = Literature = Media = Digital = Organise…..(can this technique be applied elsewhere in business for example)
Whilst our current form of politics may feel too hierarchical Kyle wanted to remind us that we live in an era of technology-powered social mobility. Change is possible and you have the tools to start the conversations – please support Kyle by going to www.repealtwo.org
Thanks to everyone who attended and any further questions can be sent to Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org
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