Let’s all have a chaterama: communications political style

As the country counts down to the general election (less than 100 days folks), I thought it would be illuminating to look at some of the communications campaign techniques used by our rulers. After all, beneath all the hype and hoopla, there might be something that you can use within your own communications campaigns.

So here’s five, complete with pros, cons and a ‘marks out of ten’ rating usefulness for your business communications.

Trust MeChaterama
Defined in the Guardian as David Cameron’s preferred ‘more laid-back discussion-type scenario, one that doesn’t involve evidence, numbers, detail, that kind of thing.’ Next time you pitch your CEO for an interview with the FT, perhaps style it as a chaterama rather than anything of too much substance. That way, you’ve a nice get out if it all goes pear shaped – tell the journalist it was a chaterama and all off-record.
Pros: Informal. Shirt-off, up an at ‘em style.
Cons: Anything that ends in ‘erama’ is difficult to take seriously.
Business usefulness rating: 4/10

Kitchen suppers
Well, yes, not necessarily something that the average business might be able to replicate – a big kitchen in No10 does help. But a nice idea if you’re looking for formal informality for your CEO to woo some supporters; investors, journalists, recalcitrant employees… It’s like going to a restaurant and sitting at the chef’s table…
Pros: Informal, exclusive.
Cons: Mismatched crockery is fine when it’s just friends but…
Business usefulness rating: 3/10

Walk and talk
Not strictly a campaign tactic, but Barack Obama is a particular proponent. Rather than schedule in someone for a formal meeting, just give them the time between meetings. Could be used by senior management to meet those employees who rarely get ‘face time’ with the top bosses.
Pros: Timely, efficient, never a wasted moment…
Cons: The junior partner in the relationship may go away feeling unloved.
Business usefulness rating: 6/10

Very popular at election time. John Major was particularly well known for preaching from the soapbox. Largely useful for businesses as a technique for employee communications though (unless clients and prospects gather spontaneously at Speakers’ Corner?).
Pros: Anytime, anywhere. Cheap. Accessible.
Cons: Open to the elements. Little control. Health and safety issues (employers’ liability may not cover). Transporting the soapbox will undoubtedly end up with the Head of Comms scurrying around with the box (should be aiming for board level role, not box level).
Business usefulness rating: 4/10

According to Wikipedia (must be right then), hustings comes from an old Norse word meaning ‘the assembly of the household of personal followers or retainers of a king, earl or chief’. Now, more commonly the time when politicians get to address their prospective constituents. According to the Electoral Commission, ‘hustings events should be open and transparent and provide voters with an opportunity to hear the views of candidates or parties’. Maybe an opportunity for an internal hustings for senior management to share their vision with employees?
Pros: Accessible. Transparent.
Cons: Can be boisterous. Hard to maintain control.
Business usefulness rating: 8/10

I hereby give notice that…
So based on no science whatsoever, it seems holding a hustings would be the most transferable of the political communications techniques in a business environment. No, wait, did I mention ‘political attack ads’?

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