Archive for January, 2012

The Message of Mitt

I’m not a political blogger.  I am, though, a voter and a PR/messaging guy with a blog who has been devouring the drama of the race for the G.O.P. nomination like bacon in the morning.

You don’t have to be interested in politics to appreciate the war of words that’s been playing out over the Republican debates the past couple of months.  But if you are a PR person it’s really interesting to wonder how Mitt Romney messages his campaign going forward.

He entered the race on the platform of:  “I’m not a politician, I’m a business man from the private sector.” The idea is that sets up the jobs creation narrative in what he did at Bain Capital.

Mitt Romney

He’s fed the American public a steady diet of messaging that argues we don’t need another career politician into the White House.  We need a business man who’s created jobs in the private sector.

I can see how that might be a tasty morsel for people to take home and kick around at the dinner table.

Not so fast.

Having spent 20 years in corporations, I can without any hesitation, say companies are not like countries.  In business, bosses fire employees.  In a democracy, the rank and file can fire their leaders.

Big difference, grasshopper.

More importantly the loss in South Carolina to career politician Newt Gingrich under the specter of his missing tax returns presents not just a chink in the business man messaging armor – it’s like a West facing wall fell off the house.  And here comes the storm that started in Iowa when Newt called him out with my favorite sound bite of all the debates: “Let’s be candid, the only reason you didn’t become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.”

It begs the question if being a politician is pejorative, why would you want to be president?  Someone please ask him that. Because I just don’t think it’s an effective messaging platform.  In my lifetime, only one president has won with a hint of the business man platform – W.  And, clearly no one in the G.O.P. race is tying themselves to that messaging boat.

Romney’s speech and messaging people have to seriously consider this business messaging platform because with his wimpy response to the tax return question makes it clear they broke into jail on this one.  That’s what my favorite media messaging trainer calls it when you raise an issue or topic then run away from the follow on questions that ensue.

Maybe I’m wrong?  A few years ago the idea ‘POTUS’ referring to a black man seemed implausible.

Perhaps there is ‘hope’ for a Mormon venture capitalist.

 – Jose Mallabo

Photo credit: Vanity Fair magazine, Feb. 2012

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