Mayoral hopefuls failing to get message across

Posted November 30, -0001

Mayoral hopefuls across New Zealand are almost unanimously failing to let voters know what they stand for or why they deserve to lead their cities for the next three years.


Pure and simply they are saying too much. If they want voters to understand and remember what they say, they need to narrow down their message to a few key points and keep hammering those home. These would be the focus of all speeches, media interviews and debates.

Even in debates and media interviews, they would still answer the questions asked of them, but then focus on their key planks. For example, if a key plank of a campaign was removing wasteful spending, the candidate would incorporate that into answers in debates that don’t even relate to it. Here’s an example:

Questioner: Traffic congestion has become unbearable for many over recent years. What would you do about it.

Answer: Congestion pricing is the answer TRANSFER, but I won’t support new public transport initiatives that haven’t been proven because we’ve got to stop wasting money on projects that can’t be justified.

But rather than narrowing their campaign points down to two or three issues and focusing on getting those across consistently, most candidates are treating debates purely as question and answer sessions. People can’t remember all those answers, but they can remember a few key points that are repeated. In other words, tell people a few things regularly and they will remember them, but tell them 50 things and they’re remember nothing. That’s what’s happening. I even heard a mayoral candidate advert on radio yesterday where he told us eight things he stood for. That’s pointless.

In conclusion, this reminds me of a classic quote from George Bernard Shaw. “The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” What this means is that it’s one thing to say something, but something entirely different for that to register with the intended recipient and be remembered.

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