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Communications strategist provides tips on how to win elections

In this 2018 file photo, a policeman overseas the loading of ballot boxes at the Manuel Araullo High School.

A noted public relations and marketing communications executive offers political candidates tips on how to win in national and local elections.

The best way to win public trust, approval and votes, according to communications strategist Dan Villa is to establish a brand for the candidate that will appeal to the electorate.

“When packaging a candidate for any political seat, it’s best to know that the same is treated like a product that can be developed into a most desired brand,” says Villa, who has over 40 years of experience in the fields of public relations, advertising and marketing.

Villa says the same marketing principles used by companies and brands apply in promoting a candidate.  It starts with identifying the target market and understanding what the market wants, desires or needs.

“We research for the desires and aspirations of the constituents, hereby referred to as the market in the marketing and advertising parlance. A more in-depth research is on hand, as developed by our research partners who are mostly seasoned sociologists from U.P. and masters of their own craft,” says Villa, chairman of communications strategy agency CREATIVILLA.

Villa says market studies and research could go much deeper on the market’s wants and desires, so the candidate can be packaged as someone who can meet those expectations.

“So, packaging comes in by way of a great positioning, palpable enough to be seen and felt,” he says.

Villa, a former chairman of the Advertising Board of the Philippines (ADBOARD) and the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies, Phils. (4A’s-P), identifies 10 winning formula for political candidates which include both communications and political strategies.

“First, measure the ability and capability of the candidate,” says Villa, adding that the same is used in PR and marketing to highlight the features of a product or service.

Second, think about the winning ability or chances of the candidate through research and survey techniques. Villa says it is important to test the awareness level on the candidate at the start as part of social preparation.

Third is about organizing the political machinery while fourth is strategizing the political ground works on how to court the people and secure voters’ trust and confidence.

Only then can the fifth step take hold which is the marketing communications, along with key rationale and strategies.

Sixth is about content planning and development for traditional, digital and social media for broader exposure and reach.

“In the changing media landscape, the hybrid utilization is imminent and a must. Consider the strength of social media to stir and sustain the interest of the voters.  Allow the communications experts to do the concepts and strategize the side of it in tandem with the candidate as the political support groups counterpart do the rounds of campaigning,” he says

Seventh is about ensuring that the content is relevant, interesting and near the people’s stomach.  Here, the early work on research applies.

Villa says the eighth step is to tailor fit the language and tone of communication based on the profile of target voters.  This is to ensure that the message is conveyed effectively to the voters.

Ninth, listen objectively and be ready to tweak, fine tune and allow flexibility to adjust accordingly and fast, says Villa.

Of course, the 10th and most important step is prayer.  “Divine guidance works,” says Villa.

Overall, Villa says the most effective communications campaign is the whole package.

“Sometimes, the most damaging in any campaign communications is the failure of a real total approach communicator to handle the affairs,” he says.

“The expert sees the elements carefully woven into one tapestry of oneness to achieve the most impactful and effective results,” says Villa.

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