Communications Lessons in the Prabowo Campaign

By N Mark Castro

Right now the biggest opponent of Prabowo isn’t Jokowi but himself.

His strong nationalistic rhetoric isn’t resonating with the younger voters as they know that it isn’t the foreign investors that’s screwing the country but the elected and appointed officials.

“Corruptors will have no place in Indonesia,” Prabowo yelled, while flanked by Suryadharma and Bakrie.

Isn’t Suryadharma being pursued by the highly trusted KPK for his alleged role in the graft case of the haj funds?

And then there’s Bakrie.

Prabowo recently attacked Jokowi saying: “We need to elect a leader who is not a puppet. A leader who cannot be bribed or influenced by foreign entities…”

Totally misplaced comms strat.

Jokowi was successful as a mayor with no taint of foreign influence. As a popular governor, the only allegation of graft is from the procurement of defective buses that’s weak at best since it targets only the governor yet does not include the mayor, budget control management, planning and control team, which stands to reason why KPK isn’t pursuing anything.

Where’s the influence of foreign entity/entities?

If Prabowo continues to open this can of worms, what will be revealed are the accomplishments of Jokowi as a public servant while Prabowo shows how he’s never held an elected position.

While Prabowo engages in high level speeches, Jokowi is out jogging with the masses.

How could Prabowo’s team blow up their momentum so much?

Strategic Communication Tips 

1. Avoid Mudslinging – If you don’t have factual evidence, fact-checks, complete and sustainable plan, do not engage in mudslinging. A taint of veiled rumor can come from some quarters to instill doubt but it should never come from you unless you have credible data. The public will soon tire of baseless accusations and the cross-hair will be brought back to you.

2. Stick To The Message – All politicians are elected based on one premise: how to sell Hope. Your Action Plan may be well and good but if you can’t simplify the message, reiterate the message, and reinforce it at all times, people will be confused where you stand. Look at tobacco industry, they’ve never veered away from their message that it’s cool to smoke despite all the pronouncements that they will kill you. This is the reason why no government on earth has managed to beat them in delivering their message. And they hire professional advertisers, too, while governments continue to use their student council employees.

3. Optics – Like it or not, as a politician, you will be judged by a larger number of people based on your visual message rather than your rhetoric. Hitler, Mussolini, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton — regardless whether or not you like them — were able to sell to their countrymen their message that emanated from their perceived power. Hitler mesmerized his entire country to send their children to engage in horrific acts. Mussolini turned a small country into a fascist state. Bush sold to the world Weapons of Mass “Distraction”, evil axis, and other jazzed up words. Clinton, well, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Let’s admit it, how people see you is a message that you will continually either reinforce or change. How are you doing that?

Always do an internal check on the visual and verbal messages you are projecting or saying. Once you’ve identified it, stick with it and sell it. You can repackage it, rehash it, enhance it, but never veer away from it.

That’s how you shape people’s minds. That’s how you win an election.



About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on June 23, 2014, in General, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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