The GOP has a PR problem. The party so much as acknowledged that on Monday with the release of a 100-page report detailing messaging shortcomings that Republicans say are the cause of its jarring defeat last November to incumbent President Barack Obama, as well as the loss of several seats in the House of Representatives.
In announcing the “Growth and Opportunity Project” report, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who on Monday celebrated his birthday, detailed some of its conclusions: “The report notes the way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough,” Priebus said. “Focus groups described our party as ‘narrow minded,’ ‘out of touch,’ and ‘Stuffy old men.’ I’m only 41, by the way. Today.”
At least Priebus can keep a sense of humor about a pretty serious communication problem. He went on to say, “It all goes back to what our moms used to tell us: It’s not just what we say; it’s how we say it,” Priebus continued. “The promise of opportunity will be our message, and a spirit of optimism will infuse everything that we do.”
Besides making the point that the GOP must be more welcoming to different points of view—immigration and gay marriage, for example—the report calls for improved digital outreach to voters. On that end, The Wall Street Journal reported today on a digital initiative backed by GOP strategist Karl Rove, with Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy serving as an advisor.
The venture will focus on how to create a digital platform to better target voters and donors—something that the Democrats have done to winning effect in the last two presidential elections.
Even with improved digital and social media outreach, however, the paramount question should be: Can Republican dismantle their image as “stuffy old men” and agree on a more inclusive message? The communications behind the strategy will be key to voters answering the question.
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