I get emails nearly every day from Organizing for America (OFA), the group the president kept in place after the 2012 election. They want me to be a founding member if I make a modest donation of five dollars or more. Sounds tempting, but no. OFA needs to rebrand and a develop a strategy to engage me before I contribute.
But, but you say their name states that they are organizing for America! Isn’t that a brand? Sorry, but it is no different than corporate names like Exxon, GM, and Delta. Nor is organizing by itself a strategy. Plus, OFA has to shake off it’s 2012 election moorings. Switching gears is a tough proposition in itself.
In these polarized times, however, a real sea change in the way politics is conducted needs to take place. The old ways of simply sleep walking from the campaign to the months and years ahead will not suffice.
Could OFA promote and sustain the paradigm shift demanded by today’s political world? My answer, much to the chagrin of Republicans, is a resounding yes. The president’s election team already showed an expertise in using social media and other non-traditional avenues to win. Next on the horizon are the 2014 mid-term elections and the 2016 presidential election. Much is at stake so it is not time for OFA to rest on their laurels.
First, the building blocks must be put in place just like for any other business. So I feel compelled to submit a few ideas that OFA could use to rebrand itself in the days and weeks ahead. The urgency includes more than the up coming elections. For certain, if an organization fails to take its own fate into their hands, the competition most certainly will do just that.
Branding Concept One: A Leader in Government Education.
Most citizens are completely unaware how government works — not even the foggiest of clue who their US Senators, House Representative, and state elected officials are. Even fewer know how a bill becomes law, the basic details of the Federal budget process, and all the branches of government. Don’t even think about asking how federal agencies formulate rules and regulations. Government literacy is a major problem that must be addressed if we are to have a better functioning democracy.
Branding Concept Two: Issue Competency.
Public policy options, whether those considered by the Congress, Executive agencies, or the White House, are more complicated than ever. Members of Congress have the Congressional Research Service to help them, and their staff, break down issues for them. I have read many of those documents and they are still way to complicated for most citizens to digest. OFA can be a objective source of information that is shared so any American can be better educated on the issues of the day and beyond. Imagine the empowerment that can take place by providing objective information on all issues instead of picking and choosing. For example, when Congressional Republicans say the president does not have a plan, OFA can lay out all plans side by side. There is no ceiling for this branding concept.
Branding Concept Three: State and local issues and organizations.
Organizing for America has state organizations associated with the parent group. The framework lends itself for OFA, and its state entities, to inform members of everything that is going on in their state — from the legislature to other local political groups to town hall meetings and everything in between. I am a reasonably well informed individual and yet, there is no way I could keep track of all the developments in Mahoning County let alone the state of Ohio. OFA has a real chance to improve its value proposition for its members as well as those citizens who are thinking of entering into the political process.
OFA has a limited time to rebrand itself from the president’s reelection brain trust to something more relevant. The above options, as well as others, can be tweaked to fit small differences that exist in each Congressional district across the nation.
It will be a mistake to assume that the Republican party will remain lost in the desert. In my lifetime, Democrats have made that mistake at least twice with fellows named Nixon and Reagan.
And where did that get us?