What does the Renaissance movement belong to?
Historically, this is nothing new. But during the time that has passed since the civil rights movements, the student movements of the 1960s, and the anti-Vietnam protests, politics has been largely in the hands of parties; left against right, Christian against socialists, red against blue.
But now something is changing: party politics is currently being overtaken, sometimes even overtaken, by movements; the party politician is replaced by the "movement politician". The answer to why is complex, but one thing is clear: the public is tired of the political elite, which has seemingly become a caste that has lost touch with the grassroots. And the masses are opposing them - both in the voting booths and on the street.
Making the voice of the people usable for you
In France, the hitherto unknown Emmanuel Macron marched into the Elysée Palace last year as the commander of his own political movement. In the UK, 51.9 percent of the population found living outside the EU more attractive than living inside the EU. In the US, a real estate tycoon took control of the Republicans and even won the US presidential election. In Austria, the "Short List" won the most recent parliamentary elections and for the first time in the republic the conservative party had to step back from its own top candidate.
And since the parliamentary elections in September 2017, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has been in Germany with 94 seats in the Bundestag. The island of stability and certainty was shaken: For the first time since the Second World War, a right-wing populist party is represented in the Bundestag.
Big trends and movements
There are several forces that give momentum to these movements. This includes the shrinking impact of traditional media combined with the rise of social media. Social media act as a mobilization instrument because they make it possible to spread every new movement and every trend with unprecedented speed, even before the general public discusses it - even across national borders.
At the same time, the dynamics of trust are changing. These increasingly peers, friends, family and influencers, so-called "influencers", who behave and also feel as if they were part of our closest social circle, can win. In addition, there is a growing distrust of traditional elites, public institutions, politicians and academics as well as traditional media.
Megatrends and events like the 2007 and 2008 financial crisis are examples of how an organic, dynamic, word of mouth media system can transform public opinion.
What encourages movement
What is interesting to observe about the different movements are the properties that they have in common. Changes always happen when there is a combination of the "right" context, effective communication, appropriate leadership and a little luck. Professional communication and marketing experts sometimes try this combination with varying results. Those who are successful achieve a significant public bond with brands with emotional ambassadors, which certainly includes people. If it fails, however, the consequences can be serious, as the rise and fall of Martin Schulz and the associated marginalization of the SPD have shown.
From our point of view, there are five key properties of movement:
- Movements have a clear goal. Strong movements are able to stake out a clear course and inspire your base with a clear goal. Whether it's to win an election or to fight social grievances.
- Movements can be assigned. In order to communicate with the public and to involve them, movements are linked to people's everyday lives. They make people feel that something has to do with them. Donald Trump managed to use thoughts, words and ideas that millions of US citizens spoke to and understood. The Austrian Sebastian Kurz succeeded in casting the radical approaches of the right-wing camp into formulations that were still socially accepted.
- Movements grow organically. Professional communicators can initiate and support a movement, but they cannot fuel it primarily through professional measures.
- Movements are decentralized. Even without a clear leader, movements can have an impact. It is the "power of the people" that drives movements forward. The Tea Party, Occupy; "Me Too" or "Black Lives Matter" are good examples of this.
- Movements are authentic.It is crucial to be considered authentic in form and content. If the public perceives that the movement is based on something other than what the message is about, the movement will find it difficult to move forward. Marketing tricks by commercial actors are subject to this risk.
The new (transitional) normal
After movements had lost their importance for a few decades, they are suddenly experiencing a renaissance in the 21st century. They have risen and people are again following the call of individuals or the idea of more justice in the (ruling) systems.
As far as communication consultants and spin doctors are concerned, they are currently learning that they do not (yet) have any tools at their disposal that could consciously generate the inherent power of a movement. The origin and properties of large movements can be analyzed very well ex post, but they are difficult or impossible to copy and almost impossible to reproduce. Even so, movements are the essence of what strategic communications consultants seek to achieve with their own work. Whether for a political party, a product or a company, that is ultimately up to each communicator.
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