14 March 2011 1 Comment

Report from the Political Branding rountable

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

I was one of the keynote speakers at Brandwagon(A thought leadership Forum organized by M2 magazine) last week Thursday. The edition focused on Perspective on Political Branding in Nigeria. It was such a rich interdisciplinary session that brought together different views of experts from Branding, Communication, Marketing and Political consulting industry. Some of the keynotes speakers includes Suleiman(leader of Hope campaign), Yusuph Olaniyonu(A political reporter and Chair, Thisday Newspaper Board) , Akin Adeoya(Publisher M2), Tunji Olugbodi (CEO-Verdantzeal- whose company handled Atiku Campaign), Yomi Badejo-Okusanya(MD,CMC Connect and brain behind Peoples’ Democratic Party rebranding), Kehinde Bamigbesan(Former Press Secretary to Senator Tinubu), Boye Adefila among other experts. The event was co chair by Tokunboh Modupe of TPT.Political branding, Consultin and communication in Nigeria

A recurrent issue among the experts was  Nigeria’s politics defies the common political statistics and principles. It is a case of the more you look the less you see. About three of us agreed that a focused on voter’s segmentation around the youth coupled with a long term plans could do the magic. When I had my turn, I spoke on social Media perspectives to political branding. In my own opinion, I do believe we could have a repeat of Obama victory if we have a candidate with right vision and message that is well communicated. The older generation may not see this possibility, but efforts focused on the youth, with adequate plan for 2015 may do the magic. Some believe Obama victory was a creation of circumstance and such does not happen every day. Some also concluded that the system around here is far cry from what the American had then. To some of the experts, social media may not bring useful result for now.

As much as I may wish to support that view, I pointed out we must not conclude Obama campaign was won on a platter of gold. That opinion is far away from the truth. I went down the memory lane to expose the fact that Americans could not believe social media could be part of their campaign in pre -2000 presidential elections. I also reminded participants that MCcain used the web in 2000 to raised fund while Dean (2004) was able to use the internet to organize online meetups. The only difference was that none of the above could convert online enthusiasm to offline soldier. Obama groups work had on Email Marketing, Mobile marketing, donor marketing and relationship management among other activities.

The team was able to manage over thirty five thousand volunteers who organized over two hundred thousand offline events among others. Aside from this, the candidate/brand-Obama cast a strong vision, understood issues and communicate this well. So my conclusion was that, no victory is won on a platter of gold. While there is a possibility, none of our candidates has invested such time, energy in their online branding campaigns. In my opinion, until we have tried and failed, we have no point concluding it cannot work here.  In all, the followings are some of the conclusion reached:

Professionals need to promote values: There is a need for marketing communication, social media professionals to differentiate between professional ethics and financial returns. Inability of professionals to do this accounted for some of the reasons while political branding consulting, communication duties are awarded to party women leaders instead of core professionals.

Professional needs to work hard on the politicians: The present situation of who plays the piper dictates the tune needs reassessment. Many politicians hire communication consultants without listening to advice. In most cases, no substantial progress is made because the politicians do not listen to professional advice.

Need to keep trying: Professionals should not run away from politics despite the present challenges. It is better to try and fail than sitting down in a corner and whine.

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