Jill Dunlop for MPP – Case Study
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Jill Dunlop comes from a political family. In North Simcoe, her father Garfield has been a much-loved MPP for 16 years. Jill’s mother, Jane, is also active in politics as a municipal councillor. While Jill had been exposed to politics and campaigns from a young age, she had never run for election herself. It was time to formalize that knowledge and build up the skill sets needed to run her own campaign.
Jill came into the election early, and knew it was essential to identify her platform or vision of the campaign and her role in provincial legislature. Though she felt like she was behind – she was miles ahead of many candidates! Jill was a very good listener, very good one-on-one, experience in leadership and communication at the college would stand her in good stead.
Building on those capabilities she needed to transfer them to this new role in the political arena. This meant the ability to communicate a clear vision of a platform in the multiple ways needed during a campaign: in 30 second sound bites, at meet and greets and at the door, a strong stump speech, interview and radio skills, video clips and all-candidate meetings.
Jill and her campaign manager Stu Spiers brought on Cher Cunningham as a PR Coach and to develop the platform and campaign.
Job one was to get the “brand of Jill” – to stand on her own as a candidate. Removing reference to her parents’ careers and allowing her to take ownership of her bid for election so that she could get her feet under her, so to speak.
We quickly evaluated that, further, a lack of concise, deliberate, practiced messaging was robbing Jill of impact.
A public speaking assessment identified strengths and opportunities for powering up that message once created. Smiling a bit less, adding emphasis and pauses to build impact on key phrases and statements. Body language that conveyed confidence.
Jill is a congenial, caring person – and this came through strongly in her speaking voice and smile. Her intelligence and hardworking ethic also shone through in her interpersonal communication.
What we needed was to work with conveying her existing persona and add impact and power alongside of this friendly demeanour. Her audience needed to see her strength and determination to know that she would be a strong voice at Queen’s Park – able to fight for the needs of the riding.
- Identify Jill’s core value as a candidate (sell Jill on Jill first)
- Build out a cohesive vision and persona based on Jill’s experience and motivation
- Collaborate on a platform theme true to Jill’s voice
- Build the planks of that platform into concise, compelling statements, paragraphs and sound bites
- Create one-pagers of situation, stats, implication and solution
- Gather stories and metaphors related to each plank and overall theme
- Using the platform spreadsheet and one-pagers, write stump speech and plank speeches
- Public speaking coaching for emphasis, pacing and strength
- Radio ads
- Video for website and social media
- Media training for interviews and all-candidate meetings
- Mock all-candidate debates
First and foremost Jill’s confidence in herself, her platform and her message were transformative. She knows who she is and stands on a solid foundation to communicate her deliberate message.
From the riding association breakfasts to community meet and greets, people exclaimed on the impressive progress and growth of Jill as a candidate and how her platform resonates with strength.
The clarity of the messaging could now be delivered in as little as 45 seconds – with the ability to easily speak in predictable time limits of 1, 2, 3, 8, 10 and 20 minutes based on her speaking speed and content grouping. This is key in respecting the audience’s or journalist’s time – and critical to know during debates.
Hands down, any new candidate needs help doing this. I would further suggest that many experienced candidates could become significantly better with this kind of work plan when it comes to delivering a solid platform.
As candidates personalize the party platform for themselves and for their area, there is a real opportunity there for this type of coaching.