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Message of the Day…Seems Simple but not always…

Note: This is the third in a series of election posts.

Numerous articles have already been written and I’m sure books will be written about Senator Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign and how it happened. I truly believe the campaign is a wonderful example of what a group of people can do if they put their minds to it, and work together for the common good. Sounds corny but it’s really true and I’m extremely proud to have been part of the team.

From the communications team standpoint, we were intensely focused on the job at hand – making sure Alaskans understood what Lisa Murkowski had done and would do for Alaskans and they knew how to fill in the oval and spell her name correctly.

Each day during the 8-week write-in campaign, the senior team (including the campaign’s communications director) met early to discuss polling, scheduling, word on the street, etc. Following that meeting, the communications team distilled the information to craft the message of the day, make assignments and move forward. That main message was broken into tactics including press releases, videos, tweets, Facebook posts, emails and text messages. Everything we did each day tracked back to the main message, even if we didn’t repeat that throughout the day. The intensity and focus of the 8-member team was incredible.

We planned communications to roll out throughout the day based on campaign messages, what we anticipated happening and the Senator’s schedule. This helped us stay on point and not be swayed by outside distractions. Eager volunteers wanting to tell us what they had heard, or the opposition spreading a rumor on social media were always out there to move us off point.

As a group, we were committed to a strict ethical sense. We would not respond to, or spread a rumor but instead took time to verify each story, lead or rumor. We were determined to run a positive campaign that talked about what would move Alaska forward and help those in need in our state. As long as we stayed focused on that we were confident we would be okay. Or, at least we knew we could hold our heads high.
Of course, since we were running a write-in campaign, the message of the day always included the Senator’s complete name. Where other campaigns could use just the first or last name, we knew it was important to ALWAYS say “Lisa Murkowski” since that’s what we needed voters to write on their ballots. Further, they needed to fill in the oval next to her name for their vote to count. “Fill it in, write it in” became the mantra and there were numerous jingles and television ads to remind voters.

In the end, the quantity of material distributed over eight weeks is still mind-boggling but more important is we energized and engaged an electorate in the Democratic process. More than 100,000 people successfully wrote in one person’s name and filled in the oval.

As much as I can write about the campaign from a pragmatic and straightforward manner, I will never forget the moment when the first numbers were displayed on election night. There were tears and hugs. We did something that hadn’t been done in more than 50 years. But mainly…we did what’s right for Alaska and the country.

Earlier: This Election Was Personal For Me
Liar Liar Pants on Fire
Your Mother Would Be Ashamed You Said That

Coming next: Freedom of What?

Photo Credit: Creative Commons; Mag3737

By |2018-03-18T22:59:45+00:00November 21st, 2010|Strategic Communications Planning/Counsel|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mary Deming Barber, APR, Fellow PRSA, runs a strategic communications consultancy where she helps clients understand how to integrate new media into traditional communication programs. Mary has counseled clients in Tacoma, Anchorage, San Francisco, Oregon, and Colorado for nearly 40 years working with a variety of food organizations, several agencies, and as a key team member on two successful US Senate campaigns. 


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