How long-shot presidential candidates get their messages to the masses
When it comes to working with the media, everyone wants that above-the-fold story in the New York Times (well, maybe not everyone), crowing about their company. Or a long, positive segment on the “Today” show, or a great spread in a popular magazine.
These are great. But sometimes you can get a big win just by showing up.
Consider the some of the roughly 300 Democratic candidates for president. Most of these folks will not be president. Most will drop out by the third primary, if they get that far. Most will likely not even earn a spot on the debate stage.
There’s California Congressman Eric Swalwell, who seems like a nice guy, believes in the American Dream, and says “bullshit” in his campaign video. His slogan is the rather anodyne phrase, “Go Big. Be Bold. Do Good.” For Swalwell, a regular on the cable-news circuit, ending gun violence in America is his top priority.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has a long career in public service, and is running a campaign based around one issue: solving the climate crisis facing our planet (admittedly, a favorite topic here at Green Collar HQ). Inslee has big ideas and big passion. He’s polling at 1 percent.
Andrew Yang is a tech guy who is running a quirky campaign that targets “out there” ways to mitigate climate change (like shooting materials into the sky to reflect the sun’s rays), and has prioritized a universal basic income in the U.S. to combat the almost inevitable future where many workers are automated into unemployment.
If you said “who?” to any of these candidates, you could be forgiven. But here’s the deal: Inslee’s singular issue is rising to the top of public consciousness. The grassroots enthusiasm for Yang’s campaign (boosted by his “Yang Gang” supporters) has caused candidates like Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris to address the universal basic income question.
These candidates probably won’t be elected president in 2020. But they are forcing their issues into the conversation, elevating the visibility of these topics. For these politicians, it opens doors, as well. But the lesson companies can take is the way they’re able to bring attention to their pet issues.
And even if Inslee doesn’t win, his insistence that climate change be a chief part of the conversation is working – even as the DNC has said it won’t host a debate on the subject, and would not allow any candidate who participated in a third-party debate to participate in its debates.
For other candidates who are polling low to the ground, showing up to bash President Trump or the leading Democrats is a strategy – simply because it generates headlines. It generates tweets, boosts SEO, provides opportunities for marketing via email and social media, and, they hope, increases name recognition.
These candidates are chasing the Biden and Bernie show, and with so many competitors, it’s hard to cut through the noise. So they’ve staked out issues – which include attacking the front runners and tacking right when others tack left. It’s a tried-and-true communications strategy. And it might just work.