One reason to be strategic and disciplined about messaging is to ensure your communications are not operating at cross-purposes. That is, you don’t want Message A to work against Message B. Obvious, right?
Well, as the Crowd’s resident Patrol Saint of the Patently Obvious, I’d like to point out that the DFL majority in the Minnesota Legislature is not being especially strategic about their communications these days.
Exhibit A: A scan of the news shows that the DFL majority leadership’s two primary messages right now seem to be:
1) MNDOT is profligate and incompetent and
2) let’s give gobs of new money to MNDOT.
As Republican pundit and PR guy Tom Horner pointed out yesterday when I was co-presenting with him, the two messages work at cross-purposes. The more successful the DFL is at delivering the first message, the less successful they are delivering the second message. Though we don’t have a Surgeon General’s finding yet, there may well be a causal relationship between those two events.
But for people like DFL Representative Steve Murphy, who seems like a perfectly decent and thoughtful fellow, hating on Molnau appears to be more important than securing adequate transportation funding.
Look I’ve never been a Molnau fan either. But muddying Molnau and MnDOT is sinking the DFL’s effort to secure transportation funding. Only ultra-insiders distinguish between Molnau’s MnDOT and the post-Molnau MnDOT. Most voters won’t.
I can understand why Molnau is under Murphy’s skin, but leaders can’t give into the temptation to publicly engage in primal screams over everything that frustrates them. Leaders have to set policy priorities and goals, build a communications strategy to achieve the goals, and stick to the strategy, however tempting it may be to stray into cathartic catcalling.
The ultimate outcomes of the DFL’s road range antics are a) voters who are more skeptical than ever about a gas tax (because it goes to MnDOT); b) a new Commish who probably will not be appreciably better than the old Commish (remember, the new person will have to be blessed by the No New Tax robots); c) a Governor all too happy to have the post-bridge collapse heat off of him (see my October 4 post on this); d) a citizenry wholly unimpressed with a party prioritizing feuding over funding; and d) a deeper divide between the legislative leadership and, like him or not, the only human being in the state with the constitutional authority to sign a gas tax increase into law.
Other that, it’s a terrific communications strategy.