Lessons From The Political Season Of Noise

I’m enjoying the silence. No more bad political ads, irritating phone calls, giant postcards that won’t even fit in the mail slot. No more obnoxious Facebook posts or poorly targeted digital ads. To paraphrase “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”: the one thing I hated this election season was noise: “Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!”

For months, we were hammered with attack ads, constant media coverage, marcom campaigns and an onslaught of negativity – to the point of exhaustion. And most of these communications didn’t tell me why I should really vote for someone — why I should care. For me, it all started to have a numbing affect. 

So what can we learn from the Season of Noise? For starters, simple honesty and storytelling should be staples of any campaign – political or otherwise. Creativity and positivity should reign over negativity. And personal involvement and accountability have an impact on outcomes. 

  • If you are a corporation supporting a charity or cause, be honest about where your charitable contributions go and why; tell a story about why you feel compelled to get involved; give more than a check to have the best impact; encourage employees to get involved. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has myriad benefits for companies, employees and causes. Look at these creative programs: IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ CAFÉ Time (Community Action for Employees), and Adobe’s Sustainability Council. In this regard, I think politicians can learn a lot from responsible corporate citizens.

  • If you are a nonprofit trying to increase awareness, donations or volunteer activity, be honest about what your needs really are and approach them hierarchically (you’ll likely never have enough resources to go all out on every need, but you can strategically focus for maximum results); always tell a compelling story about your mission and the lives you have changed; work with like-minded groups to have a more powerful, collective impact; always thank and recognize your donors, sponsors, volunteers and staff.

  • Know when enough is enough. Your constituents will tire of excessive campaigns, requests, noise. And your dollars will not be spent effectively as a result. Constantly evaluate what marcom/development messages you are sending and which ones work; and always tweak and target for the best results.

Next time you are promoting something, remember how you felt during this election’s Season of Noise. Instead of the political-beat-down approach, go for a campaign that’s honest and truly informative  — one that inspires people to act and personally connect with your corporation or nonprofit. With creativity and positivity, the only noise you’ll make is applause. Bravo!

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