By Paul Mwirigi Muriungi, MCIM MCIPR
Elections provide an important opportunity to advance democratization and encourage political liberalization. It is therefore an important time for citizens to decide on the future of their country and communities by voting their preferred political candidates.
However, elections also provide a strange moment for businesses and puts brands in a really difficult position. Act or behave in a certain way and your brand can be accused of being out of touch and/or exploiting the election to push your products/services.
Therefore, caution needs to be taken because Communicating during elections is akin to walking on egg shells thanks to the tense consumer landscape that has been created after weeks and months of active electioneering.
Here, therefore, are some tips on how to go about this sensitive but momentous period of time.
- Adjust Your Tone
Tone of voice is essential to building a brand and engaging your target audience. It is advisable to change your communication / advertising tone from a sales focused / promotional one to a neutral one.
- Manage Your Media Spend
Planning to launch a new campaign, product or service? Hold your horses and postpone this for another one or two months until the elections period is over. As election fever hits a crescendo, you may end up wasting valuable advertising spend by communicating to an audience that has diverted their attention to the current matters.
- Understand Your Target Audience
The better you understand your target market, the more you’ll be able to relay relevant information to them during this election period. What are their concerns, pain points and challenges during this time? How can your brand help them overcome it?
- Keep Customers Updated About Your Operations
The election period can disrupt business operations as employees / staff are given time to go and vote. Keep your customers abreast of any potential breaks in service and give them alternatives on how customers will be served or when the business will resume in case of any closure. Remember – the customer remains King!
- Stay Neutral
Prevailing wisdom denotes that brands need to stay out of politics. Ensure your organization remains neutral and avoids jumping into the electioneering fray, no matter how tempted you are to join in. Protecting your brand reputation is your primary goal during this time.
- Be Positive & Uplifting
Most elections can be deeply polarizing and potentially toxic thanks to the divergent political views of everyone concerned. From staff to suppliers, customers to clients, family to friends, everyone has a unique opinion about matters concerning parties and candidates. If you have to communicate, best to communicate something that is positive, uplifting and ultimately builds the national spirit of peace, love and unity to the whole country.
I wish all Ugandans a peaceful election.
The writer is the Managing Director of Capital One Group, a marketing communications consulting agency registered and operating in Kenya and Uganda.