Regular Readers are aware that I went to Washington for eight days to a conference on political management. It was a great conference.

One of the consistently repeated elements of the conference was on the need for all candidates to do a message grid.

A message grid is a table consisting of two rows and two columns. The top left quadrant is where you list everything you want everyone to know about you; the bottom right quadrant is where you list what your opponent will mostly say about himself. The top right quadrant is where you list what you want everyone to know about your opponent. The bottom left quadrant is where you list what you expect your opponent to say about you.

The teachers in the school went over this daily. I’ve worked for several campaigns that were disasters. All of those campaigns have one thing in common — no consistent message. A message grid solves that problem. That being said, usually I, as the consultant, am forced to do it myself.

Today, and the reason for no blogging, I sat with my candidate, his wife, and his sister. We spent all day forming the message grid. First, we went through the client’s strengths and weaknesses. Then we formed those into a message grid. Then we pared down the top left quadrant to four basic concepts that we thought would counter every negative. From those four concepts, we analyzed what we thought would be the four major issues and then, for each of the four concepts, came up with a statement of how that concept fit with the issue.

Once we had those compiled, we were able to develop our bumper sticker theme for the campaign.

If you are in politics or law, I highly recommend message grids. They work well with a jury too.