I just returned from a much-needed vacation in Croatia, and now I’m all geared up to dive back into work. August is my go-to time for mental “resets.” It’s when I play catch-up with my reading list and indulge in podcast marathons. (By the way, if Croatia’s calling your name, take advantage of my travel tips here and here.) This practice helps me pinpoint which trends and issues to focus on for the remainder of the year.
I used some of my vacation time to catch up on backlogged episodes of the Startup Caucus’ Business of Politics podcast with Eric Wilson. It’s one of my go-to podcasts on politics and digital trends. The interviews provide you with excellent insight from the best Republican practitioners and strategists.
Wilson’s recent interview with Michael Duncan of the Ruthless Podcast revealed several exchanges that any activist or digital expert should bookmark for future reference. Duncan is a founding partner at Cavalry, an issue management firm with Fortune 500 and political clients. He also hosts the wildly popular Ruthless Podcast, which has become one of the top political podcasts over the last few years.
Everyone should be a content creator at some level, whether you are a consultant or a conservative activist. Start that blog or podcast you have always secretly dreamed about – it sharpens your skills, improves your creativity, keeps you up on the latest trends, and helps you craft better arguments and advocacy campaigns.
Everything in the digital age is now appointment listening/viewing. People have routines and if you’re going to get people to incorporate your content into their daily lives, you need to make sure it’s compelling.
Duncan pointed out the deep chasm between what the Media thinks people want in their political news and how they consume information. People like to be entertained rather than lectured to. They will engage with long-form content as long as it speaks to them. It goes to the authenticity and respect of your audience.
Political organizations and think tanks, similar to Mainstream media, focus their content entirely on politics and policy. However, no sane person talks with their friends that way. Make sure to make your content entertaining as well as informative. Additionally, trust your audience to make their own decisions about the issues and be authentic. As Wilson pointed out, “Assume the highest intelligence of your audience.”
Additionally, creating successful content requires community-building. There needs to be a human touch with your audience. The Ruthless hosts regularly engage with their audience by reading their reviews on air or dropping in on clubhouses hosted by their fans. It builds loyalty and allows the hosts to use these dedicated fans as sounding boards for future content.
One of the most interesting discussions happened towards the end of the podcast, where Duncan and Wilson discussed the future of online fundraising. Wilson predicted that political fundraising would eventually move to a Patreon-style subscription model, with campaigns or organizations building in additional perks and rewards for their supporters. Voters are getting more sophisticated and frustrated with fundraising emails that move from one emergency or hair-on-fire moment to the next. Online fundraising needs to evolve towards more sustainable practices in the future. This evolution allows campaigns and organizations to get creative with subscription-based models that better align with supporter interests.