What are talk points?

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Talking points are suggestions given to political workers to present a candidate or issue favorably. They keep a focused message and can be distributed through a memo. While effective, they can make for a boring interview and limit the chance to show personality.

Talking points are suggestions given to different campaign workers and political parties as points that are thought to resonate well with voters and present a candidate or issue favorably. They can be given to staff members or even those who are independent but sympathetic to a certain political philosophy. These points give individuals the ability to stay on a focused message, but are often criticized as nothing more than “marching orders” for those who cannot process their own ideas.

The benefits of talking points are that they keep a focused message at the forefront of your audience. The news media, for example, can only report what people are talking about, so if their sources are all talking about the same things, then that is naturally what is being reported. As a result, it can be the most effective way to frame a debate.

Many times, these points are distributed through what is known as a talking point memo. These reminders can be distributed on a daily or weekly basis, depending on how quickly a situation is developing. A memo can address one or more issues, usually depending on the current political climate and what’s dominating the news cycle.

The rules of what can be contained in a memo are varied and will mostly depend on the author. It can offer general guidelines on what to discuss and how to discuss it, or it can get much more specific. In fact, some may even dictate what phrases and terms to use when dealing with the media.

While talking points can be a solid PR strategy, many may wonder if they even exist. Many political parties, presidential administrations and other similar organizations deny giving their operators rules for interviews. For those who really want to judge it, however, the key is to watch political news and talk shows. If different people advocating the same basic philosophy seem to be using the same arguments and phrases, it’s probably because this strategy was employed.

Some argue that these tips can make for a boring interview because they don’t give the person being interviewed a real chance to show their personality. If an interviewer suspects that the answers are aided by reminders and wants to add abusive comments off the cuff, it is the interviewer’s responsibility to intervene, such as by asking unusual questions or pressing for more details.

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