Sunday, November 09, 2008

NDP Strategic Review Part 3: Message Management

Following up on my earlier posts about the NDP's direction, I'll turn to what looks to be one of the more neglected areas of the road ahead - that being the type of message which the NDP should be seeking to send going forward.

In trying to define what the NDP should be doing, I'll note that messaging may be one of the areas where the genius of the Obama campaign hasn't yet been fully fleshed out. While there has been plenty of discussion about how much room was left for interpretation in the concepts of "hope" and "change", my suspicion is that they're exactly what made Obama's campaign so successful.

Rather than using rallying points for the base which served to repel potential swing voters (or vice versa), Obama managed to define his message in terms that held significant appeal for both. And that not only made it easier for Obama himself to keep his message headed in the right direction, but also ensured that person-to-person contacts didn't get bogged down in differences based on differences in underlying assumptions.

For the NDP, the best sell may not be precisely the same broad themes used by Obama. And indeed the "new kind of strong" messaging used in the past campaign looks like a positive first step.

But there's plenty of room for an additional focus on messages which are aimed less at the effect of a single ad than at creating the best possible environment for person-to-person persuasion. And if the NDP can base its public image on overarching themes like the ones successfully put forward by Obama, then every effort the party normally makes to push its message can only enjoy greater returns as a result.

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