Persuasive communication

Political “Persuasion”

Election season is upon us, so our mailboxes are filled with persuasion attempts. While it’s tempting to just throw them away, it can be instructive to examine them carefully to see what works and what does not work. Yesterday, I received a copy of this appeal that one of my readers had received, and she asked for my opinion. Her subject line read: “Example of a persuasive political message I actually find persuasive”, so you know what she thought of it.

For decades, Jerry Brown has been a champion for the people of California. He has served as governor, as mayor of Oakland, and is currently the attorney general.

While governor, he helped to create almost 2 million new jobs, cut taxes, and built a budget surplus. As mayor, Jerry revitalized Oakland’s economy and reduced crime. And as attorney general, he is fighting for consumers and cracking down on violent gangs.

To each of these jobs, he’s brought an unparalleled passion for helping the people of California.

Now, he wants to return to Sacramento to bring that passion to the governor’s office, and he needs our help to ensure that he wins this race.

Please sign up to support his campaign.

These next few years offer a complex series of challenges — for California and our nation — and there is much we must accomplish together. Meeting these challenges will be possible only if we have bold leaders like Jerry Brown working alongside us.

But winning this election will not be easy. His billionaire opponent, Meg Whitman, has already spent more than $100 million on this race — shattering every spending record in California. In the coming weeks, she will blanket the airwaves and attempt to drown out every other voice in this election.

That is why Jerry Brown needs your support — knocking on doors, making calls to your neighbors, and working to get the word out about his campaign for California.

Can we count on you? Get started here:

http://ca.barackobama.com/Brown2010

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

I agree with her assessment that the message was skillfully crafted, but there are two major problems with it from my point of view:

  1. I would make it less about Jerry Brown and more about her as the recipient of the message. This is a good example of a product-push type of message.
  2. I would also beef up the part about challenges faced by the state and move it to the top. The idea is to build the pain first and then provide the attractive alternative.

I then asked her the ultimate test of its persuasiveness: Did you contribute?

Her answer: “No.”

From a purely technical perspective, what do you think of this appeal?

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1 Comment
  • Andrew

    One tip: if you are going to persuade someone to do something, make sure they can actually do it. See this article from the LA Times yesterday.

    Obama assist crashes Jerry Brown’s website [Updated]
    August 24, 2010 | 2:12 pm

    An appeal by President Obama to his supporters seeking help for Jerry Brown’s candidacy would seem like a godsend for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

    But within minutes of Obama’s e-mail, so many people clicked the link that Brown’s website crashed. Obama supporters looking to contribute or volunteer found this message: “The site is currently not available due to technical problems. Please try again later. Thank you for your understanding.”

    Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said the website would be fixed shortly, and that the campaign appreciated the president’s help.

    Obama sent out the appeal for financial and volunteer support Tuesday afternoon. He has been fundraising for Sen. Barbara Boxer for months, but Tuesday’s missive is believed to be the first time he has asked his supporters to help Brown.

    “For decades, Jerry Brown has been a champion for the people of California. He has served as governor, as mayor of Oakland, and is currently the attorney general,” Obama wrote in the e-mail, which was distributed by Organizing For America, the Democrats’ national get-out-the-vote apparatus. “To each of these jobs, he’s brought an unparalleled passion for helping the people of California. Now, he wants to return to Sacramento to bring that passion to the governor’s office, and he needs our help to ensure that he wins this race.”

    Brown is being outspent by Republican rival Meg Whitman, a billionaire who has put $104 million of her own into her effort to win the governorship.

    [Updated at 3:24 p.m.: The Whitman campaign dismissed the move as an act of desperation. “Meg is running neck-and-neck with Jerry Brown, despite Brown’s 14-point party registration edge, because she’s the only credible candidate to create jobs and get California’s economy back on track,” said spokesman Tucker Bounds. “Announcing an endorsement like this in the dead of summer means that Jerry Brown is worried, the White House is worried, or both.”]

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