Monday, June 23, 2008

Why Did Hillary Lose? Her PR Guru Starts the Spin Cycle

Hillary Clinton's former spinmaster-in-chief is now trying to spin his way out of his new designation by the media: Loser. A very interesting story to watch as Mark Penn is the CEO of Burson-Marsteller, a giant in the world of PR.

Penn is falling back on the classic excuse for losing a national presidential campaign: It wasn't the message, he writes in an op-ed piece for The New York Times, it was the money.

While everyone loves to talk about the message, campaigns are equally about money and organization. Having raised more than $100 million in 2007, the Clinton campaign found itself without adequate money at the beginning of 2008, and without organizations in a lot of states as a result. Given her successes in high-turnout primary elections and defeats in low-turnout caucuses, that simple fact may just have had a lot more to do with who won than anyone imagines.

Sounds good until you consider that Clinton won key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Indiana---states where she was outspent by Obama by 2 to 1.

Here are some better reasons Clinton lost; chief culprit: she muddied her message.

Clinton lost because her husband kept having temper tantrums, distracting the media from her message.

Clinton lost because voters were fed up with her thinly disguised references to race.

Clinton lost because she never truly understood why Obama's message of "change" resonated with Americans. And by the time she herself, embraced the word, it was too late.

Media campaigns are won by spending a lot of time, effort and research understanding the message to communicate to the audience that will help you achieve your purpose. Skipping over that step results in an unfocused effort that rarely communicates a message to the audience.

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