It’s Election Day in the United States. We made it. But at what price? The Brand Newsroom team takes a close look at negativity. How should we handle it? What’s the cost of letting it run free? The Donald Trump experience seems to teach us that going negative can get you a long way. But is there a better way to achieve your goals?

 

 

Here are some key take-outs:

 

  • Negative news sells. It’s just a part of the human condition. The media and marketers know that a bad news story is always going to sell more than a good news story.
  • Being negative got Trump out in front of the media and spoke to his base, which feels negatively about the issues he champions. It’s a cheap way to present and while it worked for Trump it won’t work for brands.

“We can be so put off by some negative comments that float around but equally we can get so much attention by drawing attention to the negative”. — James

 

  • There has been a huge backlash to Trump’s toxic way of communicating. It might have got him the attention, but can it win him the election?
  • Don’t just recognise the problem; deliver the solution.
  • You don’t have to go negative the way Trump has to talk to your base. There’s nothing more powerful than saying, “I understand the stress you’re feeling, and I can help you with that”. It’s taking that negative message but delivering it positively.

“Getting the pitchforks out, taunting the natives and inciting riot, even if it’s in the social media space… it’s a race to the bottom.” — Sarah

 

  • We stand on our reputation and if your reputation is negative, that’s not going to stand you in good stead in the long-term. Negativity has a shelf life.
  • Having love and empathy for your audience is far more powerful than negativity.
  • Negativity attracts negativity — so be careful what you wish for.

“My grandmother used to say, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” — Nic

 

Here are the links you might need

  • James Lush’s blog about negativity.

 

Have you heard the one about…

A couple of months ago Sarah did a little experiment examining the email marketing campaigns of the Trump and Clinton campaigns. Here’s what she found out.

 

And here’s a discussion with Jonathan Crossfield about avoiding social media marketing mistakes.

 

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Britain has voted the leave the European Union.

It’s one of the biggest global political shake-ups since the fall of the Berlin Wall, precipitating a huge fall on stock markets and the value of the British Pound.

With many British voters already experiencing “Regrexit” after choosing “Brexit”, what are the lessons for communicators?

 

 

Here are some key take-outs:

  • Brexit is a lesson in what happens when an audience (in this case voters) doesn’t trust the brand (in this case politicians).
  • The messaging from politicians was not always honest and the audience didn’t do their research properly. But, the onus is always on a brand (the politicians) to communicate an accurate message on an emotive issue.

“The politicians didn’t do their job informing the public. There was a lot of pandering, a lot of divisive commentary and what happened is their audience didn’t understand the repercussions. — Sarah

 

  • Determine what your key message is; whatever is going to resonate with your audience. Find the point of difference that will give you longevity.
  • Be honest with your audience. Brexit was a protest voice for those who feel they didn’t have a voice. Some campaigners were promising out-and-out lies to voters. They were exploiting the protest vote with a dishonest message. That ultimately damages trust — which we might already be seeing come back to bite campaigners as they back away from those promises.

“If after the Brexit vote people are Googling ‘what is the EU?’ it suggests to me that those fundamental messages were not getting through. They were too busy talking about X when the audience wanted to hear about Y,” — James

 

  • Have answers and treat the audience like adults. Brexit campaigners did a good job of getting people riled up but they haven’t actually come up with any solutions. Help the audience understand complex topics.
  • Have positive solutions and become a trusted source of information. Get the audience onside by speaking the truth.

“All campaigns today are about saturation of message; it’s about scare campaigns, the focus on the negative. No one is inspiring; they’re always making us feel negative — and they’re meant to be the ones with the solutions.” — James

 

Here are the links you might need

Have you heard the one about…

Recently James, Sarah and Nic took a close look at why it’s time for brands to start podcasting.

 

And here’s a discussion about how to increase the mileage on your next press release.

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