Sending A Message

While I’m not so sure what information voters have gotten from the various Mayoral forums that they’ve attended, what I’ve gotten is that the state of political campaign messaging in Philadelphia politics is in pretty bad shape.

One of the first things that I was taught when I started working in radio is All Mics Are Live.

Now, I wrote that the way I did because it was drummed into my head more than once that I should assume that any microphone I happen to be standing in front of is live, and thus can broadcast anything I say to the wider world. So, it’s important to make sure that you’re not saying anything you might regret later.

I’ve thought about this a lot as I’ve done interviews, attended forums, and have otherwise covered the 2023 Mayoral Primary. You see, a big part of part of political campaigning is making sure that the message you’re getting out is the message you want to send. Otherwise, you end up having someone like me point out your bloopers.

And if the number of bloopers that I’ve seen this campaign season is any indication, there are a lot of campaigns that need to demand their money back.

When you’re doing campaign messaging, the idea is to make your candidate look like the best thing since sliced bread. It’s also to make sure that said candidate doesn’t say or do anything that might defeat those efforts.

On Thursday night, I saw yet another example of why that’s important. I was attending the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists mayoral forum at the Museum of the American Revolution in Old City. I probably wouldn’t have been there in person because it was being streamed on PhillyCAM, the same network that broadcasts Hall Monitor, but another aspect of bad political communications, not returning reporter emails, had reared its ugly head, and required me to try and track down candidates for a story.

I needed a mult-box to plug my recorder into, so I watched it from the radio room with some friends of mine from WURD and, as it turned out, the communications director for one of the candidates, grocer Jeff Brown.

Now if there’s any example of how far down the state of political communications has gone here in Philadelphia, the performance of the President of the Chester Chamber of Commerce fits. From his “I don’t care about Chester” comments at the Fox-29 forum two weeks ago to Thursday night’s displays of anger, which included a shouting match with former Councilmember Helen Gym, he’s had several instances in which the phrase “that’s not a good look” could be uttered.

It might also help if you make sure your candidate does the little things like, for example, return reporters phone calls. You’re trying to get free media to get your message out, not the other way around.

We’ve had to deal with the lack of returned phone calls thing here at Hall Monitor. One of the projects we’ve been doing for the show is interviewing the primary candidates about how they’d handle poverty should they get elected. There are certain candidates we’ve had to chase around and certain ones we haven’t. After a while, we stop chasing.

Now, I understand that cash is flowing like a mighty stream in this race, but I’ve got to wonder why it appears that people aren’t spending their money wisely when it comes to campaign communications. That and a good ground game to get your vote out are two of the most important things you need to be a winner in a race with so many people in it.

With so many undecided voters as the primary is fast approaching, folks might want to figure that out.

Our reporters sit through hours of city council meetings, dig through piles of documents, and ask tough questions other media overlook. Because we’re committed to addressing Philadelphia’s poverty crisis — and challenging those who sustain it. If you think this work is important too, please support our journalism.

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