“Very bad things.” answered every content manager who has ever had to deal with their CEO wanting to do this. Politics are divisive enough most days, but especially now in an election year.
But the boss comes to you, wants you to set them up a ‘blog’ so they can get some stuff off their chest.
You will advise them this is a bad idea, they will immediately alienate half the customer base, etc. But the boss is determined “This election is too important to stay slient!” they might say.
Sigh. So if you decide to move ahead with the boss’ idea of having a blog to talk politics, focus on talking about the values that are consistent with your brand, and avoid hot-button topics such individual candidates. The realty is, as soon as you mention one of the two candidates running for president, most people have an immediate and visceral reaction. So if your CEO truly wants their message to be heard, encourage them to write about the values of the candidate they support moreso than the candidate himself.
Let me give you an example of why this is so important. College students in their late teens and early 20s have historically been more liberal in their political thinking. This is across the board. As they age, they tend to become more moderate, and eventually more conservative in their politics. Not true for everyone of course, but for the group, it holds.
So most college students view themselves as thinking more as a liberal. Several years ago, a group of pollsters went to college campuses and asked students what they thought of some of then President Obama’s policies. The students overwhelmingly favored the policies. Then the pollsters started asking students what they thought of those same policies, but didn’t explain that they were coming from the President. Pollsters found that when students didn’t know the policy was coming from Obama, they were less favorable toward it. In another example, in 2016, pollsters talked to college students about what they thought about Bernie Sander’s policies, but for each policy, the students were told that it was actually Donald Trump’s policy. The students overwhelmingly disapproved of the policy when they thought it was coming from Trump, and were shocked when they learned it was actually coming from Sanders.
The point in these studies is that many Americans, especially in an election year, have very emotional reactions for any ideas that they believe are tied to a particular candidate. But if you disconnect those ideas from either candidate, people ‘calm down’ and are more likely to listen to the idea. As long as they don’t think the idea is tied to the candidate that they can’t stand!
So if your CEO is determined to write about politics, encourage them to NOT write about the candidates, and instead write about the values and policies of the candidate they support. Ask them to think about why they support that candidate, what beliefs they agree with, and also ask them how those values beliefs tie into your company’s core values and beliefs.
Point out to your CEO that he or she wants the readers to LISTEN to their ideas. And as soon as the CEO introduces the candidate they support into the equation, half the audience will immediately tune out. And since the CEO’s audience will ideally be the company’s customers, that could easily result in lost business.
Focus on the values and policies of the candidate, not the candidate himself. Highlight the values and policies that tie to the core values of your company.
That’s how your CEO can effectively walk the tightrope of blogging about politics.
PS: As we head into Labor Day weekend, I want to wish everyone a safe and happy few days off. And since Labor Day is the unofficial end of Summer I wanted to share this instrumental from FM-84 which just oozes the vibe of being a teenager during the Summer circa 1985. Have a great weekend!