Ear to the Ground

In the shadow of a deeply divided Congress, our Research and Insights leads – Graeme Trayner and Katie Cissel – shared what they’re learning from listening to policymakers and voters and what it means for communicators:

  • Two Americas. Republicans and Democrats often inhabit different worlds, choosing different media sources and seeing issues as zero-sum matters of values and identity.  With this comes often active hostility toward the other side.
  • Generational tension. Divisions are generational, not just political. Gen Z and younger millennials will expect large companies to weigh in on social and cultural issues, but are also the least likely to give big business the benefit of the doubt.
  • Economic anxiety. Many voters see and feel rising prices but often replay what they hear in the media and about the economy – rather than their own direct, personal experiences.
  • Lead with their lens. If your message doesn’t match voters’ experience, they will immediately dismiss it. Communications should be grounded in their understanding of the issue, not just yours.  
  • Tuning out. Simply telling your own story as a company or organization isn’t enough – audiences often don’t care or won’t pay attention when there are so many other demands on their time. Instead, you’ve got to show your part of the solution to a large-scale problem they actually care about or speak up for a group that matters to them personally.