4 Ways Palin Creates a Fake “Reality”

by cv harquail on October 3, 2008

13webpalin_t575 In my earlier post, Use Real Authenticity to Establish Fake Authenticity: Sarah Palin shows organizations how , I argue that Palin is a useful role model for organizations in the way that she has gone about creating "Fake Authenticity."

Establishing Fake Authenticity has two steps, and in this post I’ll discuss Step 1: Creating a fake "reality". I’ll discuss Step 2: Mixing fake reality with the truth, in a future post.

What’s Fake Authenticity?

Fake authenticity is the appearance of authenticity without the substance of authenticity. Fake authenticity is when it "looks like" claims and actions align when they actually don’t.

In the simplest of terms, here’s how you create Fake Authenticity:
Start by making stuff up. Make it seem plausible.  Do it so well that it looks real. Then, mix the stuff that looks real with the stuff that is real, so that people can’t tell the difference. Once the fake and the real are mixed, their/our desire to see what we want to see (in this case, our hunger for the real) leads us to treat it all as authentic.

I know, it’s all so confusing. That’s actually the point of the strategy.

4 Ways to create Fake "Reality"

    1.  Craft a good story

    2.  Prepare thoroughly, offstage

    3.  Work your message

    4.  Act like you believe your story

Veepstakes Sarah Palin

1.  Craft a good story

–  Rely on the "transitive property" to stretch the truth. Remember that idea if A=B and B=C, then A=C? This is how Palin effectively uses expertise in one area to claim expertise in other areas. Of course knowing how to slaughter field dress a moose means you’re able to evaluate different solutions to global warming!!  If moose = nature, and nature = global warming, then moose = global warming!  Try this at home with "oil & gas regulator" and "alternative & clean energy expertise".

–  Make it easy for people to remember your message. Use catch phrases, simplistic factoids, and simplifications of complex issues to distill you message into pieces that are easy to remember–even that means you have to simplify the truth beyond recognition. Also, let go of the need to make much sense.

–  Maintain consistency within specific messages, but don’t worry about ‘big picture’ consistency. Few stakeholders will hold you accountable for reflecting the same values in your sustainability policy and your hiring plans. Many stakeholders are focused only on one or two domains, and others are distracted. Take advantage of this by saying whatever you need to say to appear competent in one domain, and contradict yourself when you discuss another domain.

2.  Prepare thoroughly, offstage

–  Practice, practice, practice. How do you turn that well-crafted, prepackaged message into a  superficial facsimile of a knowledgeable response ? As Palin herself recommends, "Drill, baby, drill!" If that seems like a lot of work, remember that smooth responses make you appear competent and wise, even if you are simply well-trained.

–  Do your prep work off-stage. People want to think your message is from the ‘real’ you. They don’t want to see you reading off note cards, as though you’re not sure of your own thoughts. Make it look like your beliefs belong to you, as though they come from experience rather than word-processing.

cat staring at mouse 3. Work your message

— Repeat your messages over and over. Offering the same message over and over reinforces your message and it makes you look consistent. Plus, there is an added benefit of repeating your message–  Research shows that if you repeat something false long enough and often enough, people will come to believe it’s true .  You can say things that are patently false , or distort the truth, and soon stakeholders will treat your claims as facts. It works again and again.

–  Don’t feel bad about your own misstatements and untruths. Misstatements and untruths will only feel like lies the first few times you say them. According to the "Saying is Believing" effect , you’ll eventually convince yourself that these fake statements are true. It’s truly a forgiving tactic, and has the added benefit of enhancing your own opinion of yourself.

— Never deviate from your script. Even if it means appearing temporarily irrelevant, or even disrespectful, stick to your own talking points.  Sticking to your talking points gives you a few extra chances to repeat your message (see above).  And, while you’re sticking to your own points, you might also drown out what others are saying.

— Ignore or evade any question you don’t like or can’t really answer. Instead of answering questions, offer statements that have the look of answers (i.e., are smooth, wordy and enthusiastic) but that address a different topic entirely. This tactic is actually a double play– (1) ignoring the question dismisses its validity as a challenge to you, and (2) offering an irrelevant yet glib statement hides the fact that you have no "real" answer.  Palin has a great record in this strategy of the non-answer — the VP debate was only its most recent demonstration.

(Check out this great "Interview Palin" website for real examples of Palin’s non-answer strategy .)

Baroness_trap_01b 4. Act like you believe your story

— Share your messages with passion, conviction, and enthusiasm. When people show emotion, we assume that they care deeply about something. And, emotion and passion are easy to fake. So, whether the emotion is real or fake, show emotion when you care and when you don’t care. People will then believe that you’re truly committed to what you say, even when you aren’t. How great is that!

— Use charm and humor. Charm and humor makes you likable , and the more likable you are the more people will want to believe you.

Once you’ve (1) crafted your fake reality, (2) practiced it,  and (3) performed it (4) with passion, you can move on to Step 2: Mixing fake reality with the truth.

Again, Sarah Palin shows us how to do it! Check out my next post, Mixing Fake and Real, the Palin Way .

{ 1 comment }

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