These days, politics is so fast paced that some pundits have announced the death of true political communication.
What does that mean? Political communication is a calculated effort to deliver a consistent political message through speeches, media and more. One of Reagan’s great speechwriters said this election cycle is lacking in that art.
“Trump is awkward. He comes at this with his whole raison d’etre being ‘the outsider,’’’ Ken Khachigian, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, told POLITICO California during a recent sit-down at the Reagan Presidential Library. “But there’s a certain conventional wisdom in politics: even if you are an outsider, you communicate in the ways that people expect a president to speak,’’ he said.
Khachigian argues that political communication is dead or dying with the advent of Trump and Clinton. While he says Trump uses no communication strategy, Clinton’s is rather vanilla. But is the Trump team completely devoid of any meaningful communications strategy? And does Clinton’s communications team show no promise for brilliance?
Kellyanne Conway, for the period before hell broke lose on the Trump train, served as a brilliant new-age political communicator and surrogate. Trump’s personal communication strategy, as discussed on this blog a few weeks ago, is different but smart. It utilizes new tools for a brand enhancement, and it’s been effective.
This leads me to my main point. Though political communication may not necessarily be traditional — it’s not gone. Messages are now served differently, but the content isn’t all that different.
And candidates aren’t the only ones who can practice the art of political communication. The 21st century allows for anyone to communicate a political message, even a satirical or extreme one. Might we consider John Oliver, now, an example of political communication? The author of Carreon Thinking calls his show brilliant and beautiful–it communicates a point of view to a persuadable audience of million. I would argue it’s a form of effective messaging.
Political communication will never go away. It’s actually mutated to be more artful, and skillful, than ever. The test of a truly good political communicator will be whether he or she can dodge, dip, dive, and pivot in the fast paced media landscape while maintaining a consistent message.