First of all, a cowardly disclaimer. This blog post will not align itself to either side of the carbon price debate and seeks neither to evaluate the package nor provide any opinion on its pros and cons.
Instead, this post will use the carbon tax debate as a case study of how to create great, strong messaging.
We were inspired to write this after reading the story on the front page of the Daily Telegraph on 12th July which showed the Prime Minister sharing a cup of tea with “the only family in Monaro Place, Emu Plains, who are completely sold on the idea.”
Most interesting are the comments from the carbon tax sceptics.
See if you can spot where we might have heard these before:
- “We’ve worked hard our whole life … and we’re the ones paying more.”
- “It’s a stupid policy.”
- “This is not something we should lead the world with.”
- “Until China and the biggest polluters contribute, taxing us isn’t doing anything to tackle climate change.”
Tony Abbott should be rightly pleased; you can lift all of these quotes straight from his key message notebook.
The reason why they resonate so well is simple: they follow some of the basic rules of a compelling key message.
- They are short and punchy – easy to repeat and easy to learn.
- They are simple. “The tax will cost you more.” It’s easy to understand.
- They resonate with the target audience. The public are worried about rising bills – so Abbott tells them the tax will cost money and jobs.
- They support the opposition’s agenda. The coalition’s agenda is to win power – by the look of the latest polls they are achieving this goal.
- They are differentiated. They are in clear opposition to the Government.
The challenge for the Government now is selling a complicated package to the country and that means, in part, creating great messages and sound bites of their own.