Leadership races are rapid awareness campaigns and the New Democratic Party (NDP) has just started one. The party’s bi-annual convention April 8 through 10 came to a close with a leadership vote that ousted Thomas Mulcair as the party leader. There are many potential candidates who could take the helm but before they do each will need to engage with the public and increase their awareness.
Here are 7 tips on how they, or any brand, can do that effectively:
1. Speak from the heart.
Talking points bore people and research into building trust with a following shows that repeating the same ones too often can erode support. Younger voters are attracted to authenticity, just as they seek authentic sources of information from bloggers and influencers rather than advertisements and marketing propaganda.
Contenders should scrap the stump speech on issues they are passionate about and let their true voices be heard. Authenticity is the currency of the future whether running for office or creating brand ambassadors.
2. Engage more on social media.
The voting public grows younger every year, as does the number of Canadians who engage on social media. Today more than 60 per cent of Canadians are active on social media and during the formal leadership contest throughout the next two years it could be closer to 70 per cent. Displaying a facility for growing a social media following should be a requirement for the job as a federal party leader. Potential leaders should start local by live tweeting from community events — the new handshake is a follower on Twitter. Share at least one image on Instagram every day, tweet five times a day. What a politician shares should follow the 4:1:1 rule, with four posts or retweets that are interesting to their target audience, one post that is personal and the last post looking to generate support or direct campaign interest.
It serves no purpose to have someone support a candidate or brand if they don’t share their opinions publically. The sooner a campaign can get a valuable endorsement on the record, the more ways that statement can be used on the campaign trail. Justin Trudeau did this with extreme effectiveness (we wrote about it here) in the 2015 election showing how valuable it can be to a politician.
4. Build grassroots support.
A leadership campaign is a national effort. The first step to building grassroots support is finding local community influencers who can speak on your behalf and help organize. With two years to build support booking meetings with local leaders today can pay dividends down the road, so book those meeting now!
5. Partner with interest groups.
Every organization needs a champion and leadership contenders should seek out opportunities to be just that. The NDP has traditionally been a partner to labour groups but where else could the party grow into? A savvy potential leader could find a non-traditional support base from groups that haven’t received much national attention.
6. Always give 100 per cent effort.
Anyone who’s gunning for a top job needs to display excellence in what they are doing today. Same holds true for a company looking to turn prospects into customers. Keep your customers, or current constituents, happy and future ones will take note and follow suit.
For a Member of Parliament that means being a thought leader on issues that affect Canadians. For non-elected contenders, any accolades they receive from their industry or outside service activities is a testament to their quality as a personable professional. Current and past work is also a great place to mine stories that will help a candidate put truth to their policy statements. Don’t tell people you are great, let your work and other people do it for you.
7. Engage with the media.
This sounds like a no-brainer but investing in public relations outreach is often an afterthought or ‘nice to have’ rather than a requirement. Contenders to lead the NDP should begin issuing policy statements and pitching bylines across the country. Differentiation and likability are the keys to building personal support. Media outreach and building relationships with writers, and influencers as we addressed earlier, is a great first step in developing both.