What does content strategy and marketing have to do with the epic shutdown battle that went into halftime today? Apparently everything.
The morning after the government shutdown and debt limit battle drew to a temporary close, what many would consider the most influential conservative journalist in America had an odd reaction. Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion section wrote a piece essentially arguing that the Republicans lost the fight because the President uses Twitter. Henniger’s argument was far more nuanced than that, but he recounted blow by blow what the White House’s Twitter stream dished out and the hashtags it used.
He wrote how the same media that the GOP has complained about floats along on the river of public sentiment that courses through the social media channels; the same sentiment that dominated the debate. He’s right, though he gives the Democrats too much credit for guiding how the conflagration was perceived outside of Washington. And the Right uses Twitter too – they created hashtags for that side as well.
None-the-less, content strategy can win the day. A company or firm can infiltrate public opinion when it creates a strategic alignment of content that balances the brand attributes an organization wants to convey with the information needs and desires of a defined target audience. A journalistic approach helps this work by leveraging a sense of genuine empathy for the audience and the information useful to them. If you don’t connect the dots between your vision and the tangible issues before your audience, you don’t connect.
The government shutting down was tangible for the public. People could relate to a tangible financial meltdown that a default could bring and how that would affect their lives. The Democrats successfully connected this to Republican tactics. Whereas Republicans might have been able to appeal to Americans’ concept of how they would like government to operate, this couldn’t be made tangible during the debate. The party ran behind their opponents in trying to assign blame to the other side. And the Democratic side resonated and only grew with force.
This is tricky territory, as the sea of audience opinion is not within your control, but if you watch the waves carefully, you can find that alignment. Democrats did that. Republicans did not. They used tactics on the earned, owned and shared media sides, but they didn’t knit them together and they were not aligned with the audience they hoped to reach. Creating a solid content strategy that finds alignment between your brand and the needs of your target audience can be key – as proven on a national level this week.