Jacobs Media's Dave Beasing chimes in on GOP candidates missing a huge opportunity to campaign like it's the 21st Century.
According to the Washington Post, the Republican version of The CNN-YouTube Debates may have to be postponed from the original September 17th date until sometime later. There are plenty of home video questions being submitted, but there may not be any candidates to answer them. Seems several – including two of the frontrunners for the nomination, Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney - still haven’t consented to appear, as of this writing.
As Fred Jacobs wrote in this space following the Democrats’ turn, using questions submitted by YouTube’s webcammers gave the forum a decidedly populist feel – even if the producers from CNN missed an even greater opportunity by allowing questions to be chosen by an online vote. Our own research and observations indicate that involvement in the process is important to Gen-Y. Indeed, although the overall ratings for the Dems’ YouTube face-off weren’t high, they were the best among 18-34 year olds in the history of cable channel debates.
What do the GOP candidates have to fear? Plenty. Questions from the public tend to be blunt and personal. Telling a journalist your abstract position on gay rights or health care or Iraq tends not to tug at the heartstrings. But try answering the same questions from friendly people with real names and faces, right there on camera - that they shouldn’t adopt children, should lose their savings to cancer, or that you’re sorry their husband didn’t come home from war.
Anyone marketing a product in 2008 must give up control, allow the public to have input, and have the courage to respond to real people with sincerity and honesty. That’s a new way of exposing yourself advocated by Punk Marketing author Richard Laermer, who will speak at Jacobs Summit 12 next month. It’s scary for everyone. But what we should fear even more is appearing irrelevant to an entire generation.