September 16, 2018

Patterns of outrage

This post is part of a series focused on political persuasion. Others in the series are linked from an introductory overview.

Present-day politics are commonly governed by negative emotions, such as fear, anger and disgust. So says conventional wisdom, and I agree. Analyzing these surging emotions is difficult, but here’s a framework that I think could help:

A huge fraction of significant modern politics boils down to outrage at patterns of events.

1. My best argument for focusing specifically on outrage is this — political issues sort roughly into three buckets:  Read more

January 26, 2011

What technology influencers really think about certain PR tactics

The following is a transcript of an actual IM exchange I had a few hours ago.

Bottom line: PR shouldn’t be a pompous ass, either on its own behalf or the client’s.

Read more

August 2, 2010

Further notes on ethics and analyst research

It’s been quite a weekend for discussion of analysts and ethics. A few more thoughts:

1.  The terms “ethics” and “ethical” are used somewhat inconsistently, along a spectrum from:

There are procedural rules of good behavior, and if you violate them that’s bad. That’s the essence of ethics.


Unless the motive was impure, an act was not unethical.

Either extreme, in my opinion, quickly leads to nonsense.

2. Actually, I think calling that a spectrum is a bit misleading. I’d prefer to say an act is unethical if:

Thus, somebody can make an error in the area of ethics and still be fully ethical if, upon realizing it, they straightforwardly correct it. On the other hand, a pattern of such “errors” can suffice to convict them of unethical behavior.

3.  In particular, I stand by the following views from the post and comment thread that set this all off:

4.  Merv’s analysis of white paper ethical issues was excellent, and supersedes mine. Continuing the oneupsmanship :), I’ll now try to synthesize by saying:  Read more

July 25, 2010

So who is an analyst anyway?

Recently, there have been several high-profile (at least within the independent analyst community) posts and initiatives relating to analyst business models. Each at least implicitly suggests a definition of what an “analyst” is. Interestingly, no two of the definitions seem exactly the same – even though similar people are involved in several of the efforts. 🙂 Notwithstanding my well-documented skepticism about category definitions, I think it might be interesting to pull some of these ideas together in one place.

Read more

March 7, 2009

A great example of influencer outreach

From time to time I tell about a particularly bad job of doing influencer outreach at me.  But I don’t directly balance those stories with examples of good outreach targeted at me.  There are multiple reasons for this, including:

As an alternative, I’d like to share a particularly good example of outreach I just discovered in the political sphere. Read more

September 8, 2008

Enterprise IT marketing — a layered messaging model

Two things matter about marketing messages:

It’s easy to meet one or the other of those criteria. What’s tricky is satisfying both at once.

Many marketing consultants, me included, would phrase the core messaging challenge in terms such as:

What’s the most compelling claim you can make that people will actually find credible?

Read more

February 22, 2008

How Hillary Clinton can still differentiate herself from Barack Obama on foreign policy

Obviously, these are difficult times for the Clinton campaign, and Barack Obama is the most likely Democratic nominee for president. His messaging strategy, so far successful, has in essence been:

  1. Pitch “change” as a top-level message.
  2. Claim that being a pro-change outsider is more conducive to getting things done than being an experienced insider.
  3. Adopt similar policy positions to his rivals, so as to reduce the chance for differentiation there.
  4. Show that he’s not “too much” of an outsider, by collecting insiders’ endorsements.
  5. Claim that primary electoral success demonstrates both that he’s likely to have general election success in the fall and also that he’s likely to lead effectively once elected.

So Clinton desperately needs to differentiate herself from Obama, beneficially, more than she already has. But how? Read more

January 9, 2008

Updating my marketing prescriptions for the Clinton campaign

The competitive landscape in the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign has changed significantly since Tuesday morning. What does this do to the marketing strategy I suggested for Hillary Clinton a mere 24 hours ago? Let’s see. Read more

January 9, 2008

How Hillary Clinton regained authenticity

A huge fraction of what I do as a marketing consultant is advise on how to be credible. In consumer marketing – including politics – analysis often focuses on the closely related factor of authenticity instead. Hillary Clinton’s stunning New Hampshire win is in large part being attributed to a sudden recapture of authenticity.

I agree with that top-level analysis. Specifically, I think there were four main factors driving the sudden change in Clinton’s image. Read more

January 9, 2008

Obama’s polls/results gap may show the opposite of what people think it does

Barack Obama did much worse in the New Hampshire primary than polls suggested he would. As the night unfolded, analysts started relating this to similar events in other races featuring black candidates, such as Tom Bradley’s and Doug Wilder’s campaigns for the governorships of California and Virginia respectively. Evidently, Americans are more eager to be perceived as voting for an African-American than they are to actually vote for one.

If that interpretation is correct, and I think it is, there are two major ways of explaining the phenomenon.

  1. Hidden racism – people are ashamed to admit to being racists, but in the secrecy of the voting booth let their true feelings show.
  2. The virtue of supporting a minority – people are eager to be perceived as pro-diversity.  But in the secrecy of the voting booth they pick the candidate they really want, with race being set aside.

Theory #1 is the conventional wisdom, but a key piece of evidence supports Theory #2 instead. Read more

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