What’s Behind Barack Obama’s Success?

His election campaign was a masterpiece of communication. Six success factors from Barack Obama’s campaign – A non-exhaustive list in no particular order.

1. Stay authentic even in crisis situations

It was impressive how elegantly Obama solved the Jeremiah Wright problem without breaking with his past. When an angry diatribe by his former pastor turned up online, he showed understanding and focused attention to the integration of African Americans in the USA in a keynote address. When Wright unfairly repeated his statements a few weeks later, Obama then distanced himself sadly, but very clearly – demonstrating strong leadership. Many would have dropped the pastor at the first opportunity, but Obama acted in a balanced manner, maintaining his credibility.

2. Stick to the message

In the middle of her campaign, primary candidate Hillary Clinton tried to make Obama’s change motto her own. In the end, McCain was reduced to purely negative campaigning and discrediting “that one” in pure desperation. Anyone who reacts like that has already lost. Obama remained true to himself and his core messages for 18 months.

3. Appeal to target groups on all channels

Using its website as a fulcrum, the campaign added blogs, videos, newsletters, personal text messages, well-timed keynote addresses, interviews, profiles in all relevant social networks, plenty of electoral advertising, with the half-hour primetime presentation on all channels as a highlight – all elements dovetailed with one another. The focus was always on interaction with the audience. It was the convergence, not just the Web 2.0, that was the campaign’s real hit. It acted as an improbability amplifier with ample wattage.

4. Creating facts with images

Columns, magnificent buildings and the American flag – from the outset, Obama made appearances in presidential settings. This imagery created self-fulfilling prophecies. A black president holding a press conference outside the White House? All of a sudden, it no longer appeared so inconceivable.

5. Surrendering control

Barack Obama consciously engaged in open source communication. Creatives from around the world studied his themes, statements and stylistic devices. There are hundreds of thousands of videos, images and statements on Barack Obama online. Obama didn’t just accept it, he encouraged it (“Get involved! Share the latest news with others…”). That created a momentum inconceivable here given the obsession of our party strategists with control. However, a strong brand with clear messages can cope with this freedom.

6. Set targets with emotion

Obama told his story, weaving it into a sublime vision with his country’s self-image: Only in America can a black social worker one day really become president. Even his Republican opponents like to paint their country in the same light and were caught up in it – and so, the life story full of emotions developed prophetic power.

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