By Dave Sorter
The temptation is there. It’s low-hanging fruit. Everybody’s talking about it, so why not reference it in your content?
The “it” is the current United States political situation. But, no matter whether you’re of the red, blue or purple persuasion, when you’re writing B2B or B2C content, you’re likely writing apolitical pieces and you’re trying to build your brand and gain credibility. Even making a passing, humorous (to you) political reference in your business-oriented blog can cost you trust and clientele.
Let’s put it this way: You probably wouldn’t wear a “MAGA” hat or an “Impeach” button in a business meeting. The same goes for your content. The informal political comment you might think clever could really offend your readers, especially in these divisive times.
For example, even an innocuous simile such as “they’re as close as Trump and Putin” could send Trump supporters running away from you as fast as they can – and telling your colleagues to avoid you, as well. Likewise, “they’re collaborating like the Deep State” remarks will not be received very well by most Democrats.
The best thing is to stay away from politics all together. The only exception is, of course, if you are writing a topic that is based on politics.
If you’re writing an economic research blog, of course you’re going to write about tariffs and their impact on the economies of both the U.S. and the countries on which they’re imposed. Just make sure you’re writing “Dragnet”-style – just the facts. If the research shows it will harm or help the economy, say so and back your argument with data – from both sides. Don’t cherry pick statistics simply because your political bias dictates you to do so.
An excellent real estate economist with whom I worked for many years had an almost prescient analysis about how Donald Trump’s economic positions would affect the U.S. economy. I helped turn it into a piece for Forbes that ran after the 2016 election, and it’s proven to be pretty well on-target in terms of Gross Domestic Product and employment (although he didn’t think GDP would reach as high as the 4.1% growth just announced for the second quarter of 2018). But there was a big discussion in our office about whether we should “go there” – and even a long post-mortem.
The same economist had previously provided the information for a blog with expert analysis of Great Britain’s Brexit vote. But after the Trump blog published, we decided we weren’t going to touch anything political. We always were very sensitive about the possibility of alienating any customers with our writing, and we felt we dodged a bullet with the Trump blog.
But in our niche, the post-election blog was like the economic researcher writing about tariffs. But it also made us decide that it was best to err on the side of caution in the future.
The takeaway here is to leave the politics to the news websites and the various partisan blogs. Your blogs, newsletters, videos, social posts, et al are marketing devices as well as informational vehicles. The idea is to attract readership, clicks and, eventually, sales. Most companies don’t care who their customers voted for and which cable news channel they watch. Their money is still green.
(Yes, I know you’re itching to make some joke about rubles or pesos. Don’t.)
So, it’s best to stay right down the middle and stay away from political content or references unless they’re absolutely related to your business.
That way, your content won’t be either red or blue. Maybe it will be green (wait a minute)…or orange (um, no)…or purple (don’t want to insult kid-show-dinosaur haters)…or…I give up.