Lessons in authenticity from US politics

When it comes to politics, the US is the big, brash brother of the UK. Billion dollar campaigning makes political personalities more famous than celebrity A listers. The shining example is Barack Obama who inspired a global audience that he was a man to believe in and campaign for.

The contrast with UK parties couldn’t be greater, particularly in a conference season dominated by debate on the leadership qualities of Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.

The popularity of challengers like Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage serves as stark reminder that the leaders of the three main parties in the UK are failing to connect with voters and demonstrate their relevance to everyday lives. There are very obvious parallels with the challenges faced by brands and especially financial services brands.

In the last five years, just as there has been a collapse of faith in politicians so has there been in financial services. So last week, Teamspirit invited one of the architects of Barak Obama’s success, Arun Chaudhary (see pictured with Barack Obama), the White House videographer and New Media Director, to share his insight from years of producing inspiring campaign content. 

Arun’s fascinating experience and the lessons I took away reinforced some of what we know when it comes to creating effective content.

Be authentic – create content that tells it like it is and is unique to the real person who has authored the piece. There is nothing you can’t say as long as it is authentic.

Show feelings – when it comes to video in particular, people take feelings away, not detailed facts. This means having personality is crucial and staying away from using an anonymous corporate voice.

Show the process – the explosion of DIY and baking shows demonstrates just how much people enjoy watching a process being carried out by an expert. As a brand, being open and transparent about what you do every day will be interesting. People need to feel like they matter enough for you to tell them about the process.

Always be contenting – once you start creating content, don’t stop. Being disciplined and applying an ‘always on’ approach will mean you don’t leave a space blank for others to fill in.

Have a clear objective for what the content needs to do – then match it to a form that you can own. With Obama, it was behind the scenes, reality TV that put his personality and authenticity at the centre.

When a crisis happens, tell consumers you’re in it with them – use content to show you’re there, you understand and you’re acting to provide a solution.

Natalie Orringe, Deputy Managing Director at Teamspirit Public Relations

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