Another day, yet another story about a female presidential candidate and her so-called shortcomings related to whether she is likeable enough. Or warm enough. Or maybe even once ate salad with a comb because she didn’t have a fork (gross, but who cares?). Or used a fork to eat fried chicken (no judgment because I do, too).
What’s this really all about? I think the heart of what this coverage is digging at is the way we connect with audiences. In public relations and issue advocacy, we understand that people yearn to connect with others who they feel are authentic and can communicate with us in a credible way. People who we think understand our experiences, our frustrations and our hopes. While I think the coverage of female candidates tends to be overly focused on personality compared to their male counterparts, I do believe the messenger has to be authentic and connect with the audience. Otherwise the message itself is lost.
I don’t think it can be considered a fault that you connect with your audience. It may be fair to say Sen. Harris is working on more fully developing her specific answers and positions. But she is succeeding at something those of us in communications strive for. And yet, somehow this is still being reported as a negative. It’s going to be a long road to 2020.
Meredith Montalto is a Director in Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy's Philadelphia office.