I was recently having a drink and cigar in the office of a good friend who runs one of the conservative movement’s most powerful advocacy groups. I’m not going to name him because this problem is not unique to his group – nor, in fact, is it unique at all.
My friend showed me his group’s latest video. It needed a little work, but overall it was excellent. The only problem is no one who matters is ever going to see it.
It will be polished a bit, put on the Internet and sent to donors. And that’s about all that will be done with it.
What we conservatives don’t seem to realize is preaching to the choir, although important, doesn’t do any real good. Conservatives already are in our camp.
We also don’t seem to realize we’re dealing with a public that is not uninformed but misinformed. To be effective, we need not only a communications strategy that focuses on message, we need one that focuses on conveying that message.
The media isn’t our friend. Relying on it to convey our message in an honest way is both stupid and lazy. Most national “reporters” are so in bed with Democrats they want free birth control to keep themselves from getting pregnant.
Creating a web video seen by hundreds while progressives control national TV newscasts viewed by millions makes no sense and no progress.
Yet, I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where someone from some group talks about how they’re going to make “viral videos,” and those videos will make all the difference.
Only, if simply willing a video to go viral were all it took, we’d all be YouTube millionaires. In fact, most videos produced by our side reach no one new. They end up on Facebook pages of people already convinced, or – best-case scenario – they are discussed on cable news viewed overwhelmingly by an audience of true believers.
There’s something to be said for reinforcing the beliefs of people on your side, but it’s not exactly expanding the base. We have to think differently about messaging. We must speak around the media because our opponents control it.
We do good research, but we need to spread the results effectively. We’re great at raising money, but we need to spend it more effectively.
We spend way too much time and energy pushing the wrong buttons to spread our message even though, in most cases, we know it doesn’t work. We spend lavishly on lunch for reporters who attend our events, even though these well-fed reporters rarely make the expense worthwhile.