Archive for the ‘Lessons Learned’ Category

Recent debates introduced talented candidates to the American people. But these entertaining TV shows did not determine who is capable of winning a general election. In the end, impractical program proposals are simply not likely to find the needed support.

Also, cries in the House of Representatives to impeach the president will likely lead to very little. The Mueller report, however, yielded enough evidence of corruption and White House misdeeds to be helpful in a general election.

With all this in mind, here is a game-plan for winning:

  1. This general election will require the winning candidate to be realistic about what can actually get done. Eventually, this will mean compressing the best primary election ideas into one compelling, future-shaping theme.
  2. That said, I believe that preparing for this election will first require conducting focus groups in each major market to develop and refine market-specific messaging. Mueller report material can and should be an important part of this message development.
  3. Each of these groups should include grassroots opinion leaders, not just people with fancy titles. And campaign facilitators should listen for new and imaginative phrases to use in ads and materials.
  4. After each session, the best and most experienced campaign thinkers, writers, and graphic artists should gather together to clarify what was said. Graphic artists should be included because how words and images come together can make all the difference. Authentic and imaginative materials in new and traditional media will be needed to win.
  5. Individual focus group results, together with the best primary election ideas, should now make it possible to shape an authentic and winning overall campaign theme.

I believe that an “integrated marketing” approach that includes grassroots participation in message development will be the best way to win the presidency in 2020.

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When you get right down to it, the U.S. Constitution reminds us that when it comes to leadership, morality is what provides America’s best guiding principles. Even when some leaders have faltered over the years, morality-based ideas are what best define who we are.

For example, moral principles are why citizens and nations alike have always looked to U.S. leaders to find the ideals and ideas that best bring people together. Policy matters such as race, climate change, immigration, healthcare, and even poverty, are important… but they still require fundamental guiding principles. Our talk should therefore always begin with big constitutional values such as equal opportunity, human rights, freedom, or justice.

Morality really does matter. It is the essential ingredient of our precious and universally admired, “American experiment.” It’s what always made it work at home. And it’s what also makes it so appealing to much of the rest of the world.

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In a digital media world, a steady stream of tweeted lies and personal attacks can quickly add up to a mindless universe of make-believe. Once people become immersed in their own digital clutter they can quickly lose touch with the real world.

It appears that our president’s non-stop erratic behavior, especially over the past several weeks, has put him in such a state.

It’s a scary thought, but in today’s new media ecosystem, combining social media, 24/7 news cycles, and information overload, with a self-centered personality, can enable immoral leaders to create imaginary and dangerous worlds.

This might explain how so many politicians have come to see lying incessantly, attacking adversaries, snubbing longtime allies, and accepting questionable characters as admired colleagues… as normal professional practice.

Someone better step up and stop this nonsense soon! Make-believe leaders are very likely to do stupid things!

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Words matter. They really do.

A colleague of mine once told me, “Your problem Lauer is you think every problem is a communication problem.” Upon reflection, I said, “The problem is that you, sir, make every problem a communication problem.” We are facing that right now in the White House.

The president this week made contradictory word-salad nonsense out of every issue facing the world. Right now, bringing about “word order” in an insane swamp of “word-salad garbage” is the thing that matters most. We will have no national security without it!

That said, you better think seriously about “word order” during the 2020 election, if not sooner.

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To save our democracy, should TV news change it’s traditional approach to reporting political news? For example…

  1. Should TV news today report lies, cruelty and divisive rhetoric for what they are… and not as one side of a two-sided controversy.
  2. In other words, is a growing autocracy in Washington, and admiration of dictators around the world, the only real news story now?

In this age of emotional imagery, lies, and cruelty, TV journalism might have to change what it means to be freedom’s watchdog. It might now be necessary to conduct real time fact checking and reporting for each and every news story, and to stop using the power of celebrity and drama to compete for ratings. Truth or what? The soul of America is at stake.

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If the House impeaches the president it will go to the senate. If the Senate votes it down, the president will claim exoneration. Here is an alternative idea…

  1. Adopt the premise that a bold oversight report, plus a comprehensive strategic plan to communicate it, could very likely be more effective than a failed impeachment.
  2. Such a plan would involve a series of formal oversight hearings, followed by a long series of “findings” reports sent several times a week to all news organizations, plus constant social media blasts to the White House, NGOs, associations, community groups, etc.
  3. Give key summary talking points to all House and Senate members, plus all 2020 presidential candidates.
  4. Urge the candidates to use these key oversight “findings” in conjunction with a strong emphasis on social problem-solving initiatives (healthcare, climate change, trade wars, etc.) and a bold vision for reclaiming the soul of America.

In other words… blanket the world nonstop with bold oversight hearing conclusions, using all available people and media… much the same as the president has been doing since long before his election!

(Exhausted? Me too. Will resume posts after a brief rest.)

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I write about politics from a communication and media perspective. The dynamics I try to explain have no ideology or party preference. My assessments are about the impact of both words and imagery. And right now, money is “talking” louder than ever.

It has been widely reported that the Russians gave (and may still be giving) money to the NRA. And it is also widely known that the NRA funds many congressional campaigns. So does this kind of “dark money” funding explain why there was little push-back from Congress when the president said he would consider help from foreign sources?

It was also recently reported that the owner of the Miami Dolphins, Steven Ross, is hosting a huge fundraiser for Mr. Trump. When questioned about it he said he personally rejects much of the rhetoric, but Trump’s policies have been good for business. How then does business feel about the president’s love affair with autocrats and dictators? And when his obvious autocratic ambitions take over, will Mr. Ross also raise big money to support that? Believe it or not, the president’s behavior these days is talking almost as loud as money.

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