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MESSAGING MATTERS: FACTS OR EMOTIONS?

Marketing and communications expert Kevin Gentry pointed out a key element often missing in political communications. Whether you are running for public office, writing a letter to the editor, or just talking with your neighbors and social media friends, keep this in mind during this critical election year.


“Is it emotional? Is it aimed at the heart, or is it a recitation of facts?”

 

Kevin’s point is huge. So many times, conservatives just recite facts, often in a sterile manner. It sounds logical. We instinctively want to say, "terrible things are happening to our country and we must stop them." So why doesn't our message resonate better? Why don’t we win more national and local elections, and why don’t your liberal friends see the light? After all, we gave them all the facts.

 

Listen to the left, and especially President Joe Biden's speeches—he's always been good at packing emotions into his speeches, and he sounds like he cares. It's all about FEELINGS. Caring. Sympathy. Compassion for you, the mom, the student, the retiree. Anger & outrage directed at conservatives. Emotions.

 

You get the idea. But that's one reason why Biden won. And virtually all of the left’s messaging and media reports appeal more to emotions than facts. Here’s a visual example: Remember the Biden rallies where people were seated far apart in bizarre painted circles? To us it was laughable, but not to millions of voters of all parties who were terrified of catching the Wuhan Chinese virus (Covid). They saw caution and compassion in those photos. He appeared to care.


Another important example was when Barack Obama ran for president in 2008. Remember his slogan? "Hope and change." Sounds superficial, right? Not to millions of people who wanted a bit of hope for the future. And 'Bush fatigue' was a thing. People were in a mood for change (without understanding why electing a leftist Democrat would be the change they actually wanted), and that resonated with many voters. That vision was powerful enough that voters didn't notice when Obama promised that energy prices would "necessarily skyrocket."


In 2016, Hillary Clinton was the emotionless and long-winded reciter of facts and figures, while President Trump gave concise, punchy and emotional bullet-points. He won, and his punchy sound bites were repeated by the media—breaking through a wall of media censorship. Trump was “the great communicator” in that race.

 

But in 2020, the equation was a little different. The times they let Joe Biden out of his basement, he did what did for decades. He talked emotionally and simply. He tugged at the heart. He was ‘lunch bucket Joe’ with passionate stories of being a man of the people from humble roots. His words may have been lies and embellishments, but by contrast, he came across as a bit more caring than Trump, especially with a Covid-terrorized electorate.


This year, it’s flipped again. The ‘angry old man’ we now see in Biden’s speeches comes across as bitter and accusative. Hardly someone that inspires empathy, which allows President Trump to more easily remind voters of how things were so much better during his presidency, and how he can indeed make America great again.



“The great communicator” was a nickname earned by Ronald Reagan long before he ran for president. Reagan beat Jimmy Carter not just on the effects of his disastrous administration, but also because he talked with far greater warmth and charm than Carter. Perhaps Carter’s relatively dry recitation of facts was the inspiration for Hillary’s dry recitations of facts.


In the 1980 debate, Carter was droning on about healthcare and instead of refuting Carter's claims, Reagan just smiled and said, “There you go again.” Nobody could help but laugh at Carter. Reagan related to the hearts and lives of Americans perhaps most effectively with his famous comment: “are you better off than you were four years ago?” 



Trump and all Republican candidates should use this line today. It communicates better than a thousand statistics.  

 

Bill Clinton is another example to learn from. He said “I feel your pain,” and sounded like he meant it. He could well a tear and look pained as expertly as a Hollywood actor. Voters believed he cared about them; their lives; their jobs. And that compassionate image kept his ratings high even after being impeached.

 

All candidates at every level should keep this principle in mind.

 

But this isn’t only what candidates and conservative leaders should be doing. Your influence in your community can be enhanced by writing and talking with more emotion, and not just listing facts and figures.

 

For example, show the struggles of taxpayers when talking about a local tax hike. What’s it mean to working families? Are the police and courts letting criminals and go free to strike again?

 

Paint those pictures: Are single moms afraid to let their daughters walk to the bus stop or corner store? Do you feel hunted when walking to your car or out shopping? Are you afraid to let your kids roam their neighborhood like you could when you grew up? Do you know a victim of crime? Do you feel your right to vote is endangered by illegals voting? Are illegals consuming your taxes and increasing crime in your town? How does that feel to you as a taxpayer or your fears of crime?

 

Tell those personal stories when advocating for law and order, tax cuts, restoring voter integrity, and all the other issues that affect your life.

 

These tips will help make your social media posts resonate a little better, help you talk a little more convincingly to friends and strangers alike on political issues, and should you call a talk show or speak at a school board meeting, you’ll be a little more effective.





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