It is often said that people (voters) have short attention spans – imagine a class of school kids. Get the message across, plain and simple – teachers follow tested guidelines for effective pedagogy and, of course: repeat, repeat, repeat. Unfortunately, nothing in politics is plain and simple and to claim otherwise is lying or propaganda.
People are not as stupid as some like to think but they all have their biases. They will easily jump to conclusions that are based on and confirm their biases. We all do this.
Context (background) is hugely important in getting the right message and the message right. People love to shoot (at) the messenger and the message gets lost; this is often deliberate.
A political party obviously wants to get its message out, understood, and well-received. This means that they have to build a good rapport with their audience. This is particularly important for the Greens because they do not conform to the simple left-right paradigm and thus are easily misunderstood. A prime (but not fine) example was the recent announcement by the Greens to hand their Question Time over to the Opposition (i.e. National). Almost everybody’s first (and lasting) reaction was: WTF? And that includes many a bewildered Green supporter! Similar charges could be laid at Labour’s doorstep regarding the CPTPP.
Political parties need MSM to get their messages across. Without MSM it is like this Zen kōan:
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Simple catchy headlines are the lifeblood of MSM because they
bait entice readers to click on the article and spend more time on the website, which indirectly or directly increases revenue – it is no different in supermarkets and shopping malls. Obviously, this click-baiting does little towards explaining the contents or the message of a political party. In fact, it is very common to be quite misleading and to create a false impression or expectation. And just like supermarkets or shopping malls, MSM are not necessarily for or against a particular party or brand, they are simply trying to make money!
Trying to explain a well-intended political decision or policy announcement afterwards is more like installing smoke alarms while the house is burning down around you: too little, too late.
It takes time for people to get to know you, to understand you, to warm up to you. You have to take them gently by the hand and guide them, step by step. One misstep, one stumble, and the trust is gone, often for good. Others will make sure of that.
Without taking this time to ‘educate’ people, to explain itself so that their messages may be received as intended, a political party is asking for trouble and resistance, every step along the way. Alienation with the electorate is a death sentence in politics.
It is a real shame when good information or a good opinion gets ignored and squandered because of poor preparation and delivery (communication). Never forget that people’s attentions spans are short and their patience thin.
So, please can I ask all progressive politicians and all radical thinkers & activists to build a good rapport with the general public, through MSM and other channels, so that their good work does not get lost in fighting a rear-guard action, damage control, and wasting the most precious of resources of all: time. In addition, there is a dearth of public intellectuals in New Zealand who can be instrumental in breaking down complex issues into pieces that can be understood by the general public without resorting to spin or framing, over-simplification, or banality unlike so many MSM opinion pieces.
This Guest Post is by Standardista Incognito.