Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Backwards and in heels

The Goddess has a messed-up sense of humor.

This morning, I was busy summarizing a study by the Brookings Institute that highlights the gender gap in political candidates and tracks reasons why women might not run for office, when a phone company salesperson walked in to try and convince us to switch our service.

The dude tried to chat and figure out what our organization does, and made an attempt at commenting on how busy it must be with elections and politics, commented on the large photo we have of Bobby Kennedy (which is right next to a large, framed article on the state's first Native American female state senator), then pitched his company's phone service. Right after I said "Thanks, but that decision would be up to our state director" the guy said "Well maybe he could give me a call when he's free."

I smiled as politely as I could before pausing and saying pointedly, "She."

Two weeks ago we had an all-day training for candidates on the importance of framing, messaging, and leaving impressions. With a minute or less to pitch a campaign spiel while doorbelling or phonebanking, the images voters are left with often say more than someone's actual policy stances -- whether it's too-short shorts (as one guy at the training traumatically demonstrated) or a misguided but well-intentioned phrase (like "Cuban-style health care").

Tangential impressions matter, especially if you have an important message you want to get across to someone. After five years of issue-based advocacy and lobbying, one of the things you know is that impressions you leave with staffers (often college students or temps) are just as important as the rare meetings with elected officials themselves, if not more so.

Also interns!

When the phone rep left, I tossed his brochure in the recycling bin and went back to drafting the summary of the gender gap study.


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