A Competitive Communications Hierarchy is Key to Your Message

communication community hierarchy

Effective Communication: Using the natural social structure to promote your cause. 

Your organization's ability to deliver your narrative and develop a following is enabled by a hierarchy of influencers that is stronger than your competitors.  

The delivery of your message is driven by the top 10% of the community: Pundits, Advocates, and Syndicators. 

Pundits: The op-ed journalists, news services and research mavens at think tanks that provide the data and analyses. May have a following based on the strength of their byline. They are paid by the advocates and syndicators for their expert opinions.

Advocates: The politicians and activists advocating a certain position. Their opinions and actions are covered in the news cycle. They are quoted like religious prophets; provide the political content (i.e., stories/soundbites/talking points). They are paid with contributions from high wealth individuals and by holding political office.

Syndicators: These are the news media "talking heads" and influence large blocks of follower. They broadcast the tribal talking points and grow blog subscription communities and social media followings. They are monetized by advertising and sponsorships based on their market draw.

There is an another, less formal, type of syndicator -- the information indexers (think Google and search engines) and social media network channels (think Twitter and Facebook). Both filter and prioritize the position of news flowing over their subscriptions and networks and to a lesser extent the internet as a whole.

The remaining 90% of the community form the audience you wish to engage.

Joiners (the followers): They are the indoctrinated, the members of the mass market that are emotionally charged and motivated. They are the people that comment, like, and share the political content with their friends. They may be social media trolls (i.e., enforcers and defenders) that swarm on the posts of those who oppose their views. They are rewarded in social capital.  There are also "deep state" civil servants working within the government, paid salary and benefits. 

Speculators: Not quite indoctrinated but afraid of the social consequences of not becoming a Joiner.

Observers: The rest of the mass market without any interest in the social concern.

Action: Maintain the Competitiveness of Your Narrative and Delivery Hierarchy

A well developed message narrative is key to your competitiveness. Continually groom and market test the points of your narrative.

But, the success of your campaigns is determined by the relative strength of your communication hierarchy versus those of your opponents. Actions to take:

1. Assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOTs) of your communication hierarchy on a regular basis. For example: 
  • List and determine the market appeal of your pundits, advocates, and syndicators -- match against your opponents.
  • Can you steal from your competition's hierarchy?
  • What is the relative strength of your pundits and research? 
  • What are your net approval ratings and amount of positive news media coverage?
  • Are your advocates on message? 
  • How strong is your message syndication?
  • Determine the demographics of your joiner base and how it matches the voter base? What geographies provide the winning edge?
  • Measure the level of engagement of your joiners relative to your opponents?
  • Determine the size of the observers -- what would sway them to join your community?
2. Develop strategies and tactics to develop your communications hierarchy:
  • Take advantage of news cycle opportunities;
  • Grow strengths and opportunities; and, 
  • Minimize threats and weaknesses.


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