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« What you can learn from the primaries | Main | Spam: They still don't get it »

Meatball Sundae VII: Election Day Edition

In the new transparent age, it's really difficult to tell two stories simultaneously.

Why George Allen won’t be running for president:

It was a great Web moment. George Allen was the Republican Party’s next star, anointed as a potential candidate for president in 2008. But first he had to win the Senate race in Virginia, considered by many to be a layup for him.

The traditional way to run a political campaign is to control your message. Control what you say and when you say it. Control who hears it.

Tell one story to your raving fans, and a more moderate story to people in the center.

As voters have seen again and again, politicians are good at this. Some people call it lying. But in general, politicians have gotten away with it.

The top-down, control-the-message strategy worked in the past for a few reasons:

  • Media companies were complicit in not embarrassing the people they counted on to appear on their shows and authorize their licenses.
  • Politicians could decide where and when to show up and could choose whether or not they wanted to engage.
  • Bad news didn’t spread far unless it was exceptionally juicy.

But George Allen discovered that the rules have fundamentally changed. Allen’s challenger asked S.R. Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia, to trail Allen with a video camera. The idea was to document Allen’s travels and speeches. During a speech in Breaks, Virginia, Allen turned to Sidarth and said, “Let’s give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia,” said Allen. As I write this, YouTube reports that Allen’s slur has been watched on YouTube more than 318,000 times. Add to that the pickup from the broadcast media (which picked it up because it was popular, not because it was “important”), and you see why George Allen lost the election.

The ironic part of the appearance is that the first words out of Allen’s mouth on the tape are, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re going to run positive campaign.” The story didn’t match the facts, and the facts showed up on YouTube.

Summary for nor non-politicians: You can't tell two stories at the same time. Not for long.

Catch up on the last six installments of this series here.

Some recent posts on other blogs:

Seth Godin Dishes Out Meatball Sundaes, megaphone or magnet, Seth Godin: Meatball Sundae Webcast, Fraser Mcculloch, 60 Minutes with Seth Godin and a Meatball Sundae, You So Can Do This | iScatterlings, myblogharvester.com, myblogharvester.com, Seth Godin Likes Meatball Sundaes?, Pre-SES Chicago Seth Godin Webinar, Pre-SES Seth Godin Webinar, Bruceclay.com - Pre-SES Seth Godin Webinar, Notes from a Seth Godin Webinar, david dalka, » Seth Godin Dishes Out Meatball Sundaes, Seth Godin Asks: Is Your Marketing Out of Sync?, Blogging? Consider this advice, www.tmesolutions.co.uk, Seth Godin and a Meatball Sundae and BL Ochman.

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How you say it is just as important as what you say. I just finished an interesting exchange with a political activist who spammed me after finding my email address on an association website.Hello my name is XXXXX. I am [Read More]

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