Political debate: A problem with the message?


As the country looks forward (or not) to the next leaders debate, the question arises as to whether we will see a different approach from the leaders themselves. The first debate attracted 9 million views, whilst the second debate achieved just 3 million. This decline in viewing figures can be put down to may factors, but this blog focuses on whether the ‘140 character Twitter sound bit’ is having an effect.

Simple messages

From watching the debates, it has become clear that each of the political parties have been briefed to distil their key messages down into quite simple 'sound bites' that can be reinforced at every point.

Layering the communications

Although keeping the key messages simple is a critical requirement in broadcasting to mass audiences, the messages also need to be backed up with substantive statements that demonstrate the thinking behind the message, changing the point slightly for different situation so it does not sound like a dogmatic unimaginative view.

Dumbing down the messages

This simplification of the political message is a godsend to social media campaigning, a technique which has taken on a more important role over the last few years. However, I question how this new technique is playing out with the electorate. It would appear that the main criticism is a lack of substance and of a differentiated message.


When the choice between three products is so small, it becomes imperative to develop a clear USP (Unique Selling Proposition). I think that this is the biggest problem with the current campaign, as none of the political parties are managing to communicate their USP to the electorate.

Less spin doctor and more communication strategy!

Each of the political parties need to re-examine their own communications strategy. They need to get their USP across to the electorate – unless of course, their political game is to make sure no-one wins!