“Scary,” “narrow-minded,” and “the party of stuffy old men.” Those are just some of the ways the Republican party describes itself in an unvarnished 100-page report released by the Republican National Committee (RNC) this week. Commissioned by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus following the 2012 presidential election, the so-called “autopsy report” identifies the party’s major flaws in attracting voters and recommends big cultural change to help Republicans win the next time around.
The candid nature of the report makes it interesting reading. One of the major issues identified is the party’s failure to appeal to younger voters and minorities, two of the largest growing voting demographics. “Public perception of the party is at record lows,” the report notes. “Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us.”
This public soul-searching is unprecedented for a national political party. While some Republicans are bristling at the release of the report, others laud the RNC for taking such a dramatic step. One thing everyone should be able to agree on it is that change is needed: Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, a seismic shift from the prior two decades. Perhaps this report is the blueprint for the Republican party’s future?
THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) to Priebus and the RNC. Acknowledging failures is never easy, but every turnaround needs a first step.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: True rebranding is an inside-out job. The invasive nature of a well-done rebranding process sometimes comes as a surprise to corporate leaders, who falsely assume they are simply signing up a new logo, not a massive corporate rethink. A rebrand is a major undertaking that involves the acceptance of harsh truths and a commitment to making fundamental changes. A new name or logo change may be an important part of the equation, but they’re not the end result. Fortunately for companies (unlike political parties), the dirty linen can usually be examined more privately.