Four ways to simplify political communication

'We need more political comms that’s simpler, kinder, and more honest'

  • ‘I don’t enjoy politics, but you guys make it simple and easy to follow.’
  • ‘Sifting through the political spin of traditional media outlets became impossible, now I don’t have to.’
  • ‘Reading news makes me anxious so having these simple updates really helps!’

These three comments exemplify what many of our followers tell us. At Simple Politics our main mission is to make politics kinder and more accessible, which we do by posting concise and impartial political news. Here are four ways in which we try to make politics, well, simple!

Avoid jargon

A lot of traditional news content assumes that the average person has a much higher understanding of politics than they actually do. People tell us that they feel their background knowledge of politics isn’t good enough to fully understand what’s going on, and that this discourages them from fully engaging. We need to make political communications more inclusive by avoiding using jargon and technical terms. For example, ‘MP has had the whip removed’ can be ‘MP has been suspended from their party’, or ‘constituency’ can be ‘area’.

Be concise

Getting to the point is key. We have found that those who don’t particularly enjoy politics, or who don’t have time to keep up to date with all the goings-on of Westminster, just want to know what they need to know.

They want to know the big policy decisions and how they will be affected. Most of our posts are between 50-75 words each, with a clear title to draw people in. A little extra context, if we need it, can be added in the caption.

Cut the noise

One of the biggest turn-offs for our followers is all the arguing and shouting that goes on in politics. People expect more from our politicians than the jeering and playground insults that they throw at each other. Communications which cut through all that noise are better received — we find that people just want substance.

Show humanity and humility

The UK is now one of the least-trusting countries in the world, with an average of just 39% trust in businesses, government, and media, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. One of the reasons our followers say they trust us (although, of course, not all of them do) is because we’re honest about who we are and when we get it wrong. Our names and faces are attached to the brand, we’re open about the fact there’s only three of us and that we’re not a big, well-run operation, and we love to make silly jokes now and again. We are ourselves, warts and all.

These four points probably seem obvious, and yet so few political communications actually take them all into consideration. However, I’m not arguing that all political communications and news have to be like this. Of course, there’s plenty of demand and a need for technical, in-depth coverage and analysis of politics. But we also need more political communication that’s simpler, kinder, and more honest.

Less shouty, more accessible. And, most importantly, more inclusive. Politics is for everyone. It’s about time we included everyone in our political communication.

Featured image: Franco Monsalvo / Pexels

Charlotte John, Communications Officer and US Lead at Simple Politics

Charlotte John is the Communications Officer and US Lead at Simple Politics and a doctoral researcher in the Marketing department at Lancaster University.

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