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Positioning In Politics

PR is the DNA of politics.

And political PR is grounded in positioning.

Positioning is a marketing technique that ties you or your product – or in the case of politics, your issue – to something that is already in the mind. In this way you communicate about the subject instantly.

Witness the positioning of the current IRS scandal as Watergate 2.0.

Some people confuse the word “positioning” with a stance or point of view on an issue.

Legislators generally have a position on bills or matters of state. “I oppose the current immigration reform bill,” is an example of such a position.

But positioning is something you do..

Painting the IRS scandal as Watergate 2.0 is like breathing for political foes of the administration. It instantly ties the IRS’s malicious targeting of conservative political groups to the most notorious political scandal of the last 60 years – Watergate.

President Clinton’s, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…” is a close second. Yes, it was the (married) President of the United States lying to the American public about a sexual affair with a White House intern, but it was not an organized political conspiracy sourced from the Oval Office.

Whatever else Richard Nixon may have done for this country, he will always be remembered as the only U.S. President to resign the office. Nixon is positioned in the mind of the general public, not for opening up China. Not for establishing the Environmental Protection Agency. But for being a crook.

And while Bill Clinton has had modest success rehabilitating his image over the last decade, his sexual dalliances with the hapless 22 year-old Lewinski, remain the most prominent event of his Presidency.

Sorry Bill.

Hard to imagine how Hillary stuck with him, but she’s a gutsy broad and today, 17 years later, she’s one of the most powerful women in the world.

Hillary is the hands down 2016 Democratic presidential nominee if she wants it. She emerged first from “HillaryCare” and then the Lewinsky scandal and created her own persona. Today she can easily run for the presidency without being positioned with Bill and his shameless, immoral conduct. If the election were tomorrow, she would win in a cakewalk.

Read it and weep, it’s a political fact.

But the election isn’t tomorrow and the Benghazi hearings are still in progress, which may or may not further tarnish the redoubtable Mrs. C. (The damage to her reputation has been slight so far, but there are 13 more witness to this foreign policy nightmare and some of them are pointing fingers at her in very menacing ways. Hard to bring down an icon, but Darrell Issa is a political pit bull. Stay tuned.).

Meanwhile, Republicans are already starting to jockey for position.

Chris Christie is considered a contender. But the Round One has a problem – he is positioned with the President. His fawning over Obama during the President’s visit to New Jersey a few days before the 2012 election turned many Republicans against him, and a second Christie-Obama “tour” is being planned as I write this. Political seppuku. 2016 is a long way off, but unless things change dramatically, there is no way New Jersey’s big guy will get the Republican nod, even with the lap-band surgery.

Jeb Bush is a contender. He’s made it clear he would run and Karl Rove (The Architect of his brother’s political victories) is already promoting him. But Jeb is positioned with brother George. And while George’s popularity has improved since leaving office, one can just imagine the campaign – “Jeb is George2” – it would be a mainstream media feast, and Jeb would be the only thing on the menu.

Marco Rubio is running. The senator from Florida is positioned with his Tea Party conservatism and his Hispanic roots. Time magazine featured him on the cover as The Republican Savior and right now he is considered the leading contender for the nomination. But he is currently up to his BVDs in the immigration reform legislation that is bogged down in the political quicksand of Harry Reid’s sandbox and is also seriously unpopular with conservatives.

If Hillary doesn’t accept the nomination – and there is some reason to believe that she won’t – the Democratic field is lead by Joe Biden, who is positioned as the administration’s gaffer-in-chief. Joe just doesn’t seem to be able to keep his foot out of his mouth:

·      At his first campaign rally with Barack Obama, Biden slipped up and called Obama “Barack America.”

·      While campaigning in Missouri, Biden called upon State Sen. Chuck Graham to “stand up,” despite the fact that the Senator was in a wheelchair.

·      “Jill and I had the great honor of standing on that stage, looking across at one of the great justices, Justice Stewart.” – Biden, mistakenly referred to Justice John Paul Stevens, who swore him in as vice president, Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009.

Still, he’s a seasoned politician and held his own in the Vice Presidential debate.

The election is 3.5 years off, which is beyond eternity in politics, but rest assured positioning will be key to the election.

Positioning in politics is done with speeches, with interviews with Greta on Fox, Blitzer on CNN and Gregory on Meet the Press. It’s done with radio interviews with Rush and PBS and articles in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the New York Times.

But in Advertising, graphic images help forward the position.


Advertising is a visual medium. Corporations drive their brands into the mind with images that forward their position. It’s a strategic activity. Positioning is where you place your product in the mind of your public and in relation to other products.

A graphic image helps anchor that spot.


Prudential’s ROCK.

Marlboro’s COWBOY.

Apple’s APPLE


Allstate’s GOOD HANDS

Wells Fargo’s STAGE COACH


Best Buy’s  PRICE TAG


Even our logo is a communication. On Target Research’s BULLSEYE.

You don’t have to be a multi-billion dollar conglomerate to have a position, and an image to go with it. Not at all. We help clients find that unique opening in their public’s mind that will differentiate them from the competition and then find the perfect image to represent it.

You can see the exact steps of how we do this in a short two minute video on our home page. Check it out. https://ontargetresearch.com.

Can we help you with your positioning?

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Registered copywriter of

Registered copywriter of