Fourteen years ago, Barack Obama wasn’t the first black U.S. President. He was a rookie U.S. Senator running an insurgent campaign for President against favorite Hillary Clinton. He’d climbed even in national polls —and split early primaries—but the one-two punch of former White House residents Bill and Hillary Clinton was a massive barrier to overcome.
Then, top Senator Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama’s campaign. “With Barack Obama, we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group and straight against gay,” Kennedy said during a rally. That short statement gave validation to Obama’s claims of being a transformational leader – and launched him to the Democratic Party’s nomination, the White House, and into the history books.
Whether you’re a gifted orator like Obama or someone who stumbles over words, letting other people brag for you is a powerful way to validate your narrative. It can:
- Validate existing claims. This took place at the 2008 Obama rally, and takes place in sports when someone is declared MVP. In business, validation can come from investors, customers, and employees.
- Spread your message faster than if you did it on your own. Obama could only make so many speeches in a day. From young activists to the elderly Kennedy, from speeches to social media posts, Obama supporters spread the word in their trusted circles.
- Protect against attacks on your brand. Kennedy’s endorsement neutralized Clinton’s claim that Obama was too inexperienced to be a good president.
Once you have others validating your narrative, you’ve got to keep the momentum going. Media outlets across the country reported on Kennedy’s speech, giving it a life of its own. You can use the media to amplify when others brag about you by:
- Providing compelling insights in interviews and op-eds. Be sure to help your key backers do the same – giving them the spotlight to support you.
- Giving background information and exclusive coverage opportunities to selected, influential media gatekeepers whose coverage of events and issues will reach your key audiences.
- Sending non-exclusive media coverage opportunities to a wider group of media gatekeepers to reach broader audiences.
Read more about how Obama and Donald Trump both used third-party validation to win the White House.