As an expatriate Englishman, my own path to citizenship was speeded up by the US immigration authorities in 2008 as the greatest responsibility of that much sought after status is the ability to vote. With an historic general election looming in November, myself and thousands of applicants were rushed through the system so we could exercise our franchise.
So the election later this year is the first one that I have paid full attention to from start to rather intriguing finish. In the same way that you cannot help but be fascinated when the Chicago Cubs go down in flames yet again or that hardly famous young actress has her fourth car crash in a year, its been a grimly compelling experience - and there is still three months to go.
In what I now understand was a slightly professionally lazy kind of way, in the past, I have been guilty of urging clients who find it difficult to stick to one message to look at the discipline and relentless consistency that politicians bring to bear during election campaigns.
“We need more of a campaign mentality,” I have heard myself utter on more than one occasion.
Politicians should be looking much more closely at how corporations approach the building and protection of reputations. I really did have it the wrong way round.
As I write, Rep.Todd Akin (R-MO) remains the center of a firestorm
after his remarks on TV about rape and abortion, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) has been absent for weeks
with what are assumed to be health issues - and all this against the backdrop of a presidential campaign in which fact checkers are working through the night so fast and loose is everyone playing with the “trut.”
Earlier in August, a Gallup poll revealed that just 10% of Americans approve of the job that Congress is doing
– tying an all time low. Eighty-three percent disapprove!
Meanwhile in the commercial world, the conversation is about corporate character, authenticity, transparency, and building trusted relationships with key stakeholders. CSR has transformed into a bigger, more powerful idea of how corporations define their relationship with the wider world to the mutual benefit of both – IBM's “Smarter Planet” being a wonderful example and DuPont's efforts behind global food security another more recent illustration, both of which are Ogilvy clients.
Creating a strong reputation is not a campaign. It's a long-term building of mutual beneficial relationships based on trust.
Politicians have lost the plot. From now on, my mantra will be “We need less of a campaign mentality.”
Mike Hatcliffe is MD of the US corporate practice at Ogilvy Public Relations.