What We Learned from Scott Brown’s Win
Posted by: Dana Harris
Jan 20, 2010
Last night was an extremely exciting upset for the Republicans, a huge change for Massachusetts and for future politics in Washington.
Scott Brown, a relative unknown, came from behind as an underdog to win the late Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat. But as a PR professional, I found the communications strategy in the last 10 days of the campaign very interesting and saw many lessons learned for Red Javelin‘s clients– emerging-growth technology and consumer companies that are typically the underdog needing to compete with the big “machines” of the technology sector.
So what can we learn from Brown’s win? Here are some of my thoughts:
- Lead with direct, clear and simple messages. And repeat them often. Come up with 3 of these messages and stick to them in your communications efforts. People will then remember who you are and what you stand for. One of the simple statements in his winning speech last night was a great example of a direct message as he discussed the issue of defending terrorists in our nation. He said “Our tax dollars should go towards weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.”
- Show your differences. Brown clearly articulated the issues and how he differed from his opponent Martha Coakley. Technology companies need to do a better job of stepping outside of their company bubbles and analyzing their competition, and distinguishing why their solution solves a business problem better than other ones out there.
- The importance of listening to your target market. Brown’s statement of “The people’s seat” and focusing on “listening to the people” resonated with most voters. Technology companies need to listen better to their customers – the people that buy their products and services – and learn what they really need and want, what issues they are experiencing, and how they can better solve these problems.
- Show your character and tell your story. The press is interested in real stories around real people. They like to get “under the hood” and see what makes successful companies run, who makes them run and is behind the latest and greatest product or service. Brown displayed passion, energy, determination, and showed his easygoing, down to earth character which turned many voter prospects into voter sales.
- Bashing your competition can come back to haunt you. Coackley’s negative ad campaign turned off a lot of voters here in Massachusetts. I am a firm believer in sticking to positive messages about your company and products and avoiding the desire to slam them as it doesn’t get you anywhere.
- The use of social networking to communicate. We all now need to understand that social networking is here to stay. It is critical to integrate social networking into your communications, even when targeting IT and enterprise-level decision makers. People make decisions based on opinions they gather from colleagues, peers in their industry, friends and family and are feeling more comfortable sharing their views on social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook. Tap into this and use communications to nurture your influencers.
I’d love to hear your comments on other communications tactics we may have learned from the Mass. senate race so post them here!