Political Communication Tools and Tactics
Every campaign needs a robust political communications arsenal to get the message out. And every fall, thousands of campaigns from coast to coast scramble against the clock to maximize the resources they have to pull off a victory.
The best strategy is simply to plan ahead well in advance and arm yourself with the most effective communication tools you can. Here is a quick rundown on various tactics:
Television: It gets the widest possible exposure. However, it cannot target any specific groups. In fact, most of the people who watch political commercials don’t vote. Regardless, television, while expensive, gets high marks for generating name recognition for any candidate. But remember that television viewing habits have changed dramatically and local stations don’t get the audience they used to.
Radio: You can target radio to your demographics much better than television and it’s cheaper than TV too.
Works better in larger metro areas. While smaller communities have radio stations, the audience is very limited.
Newspapers: Subscriptions continue to decline as society finds other ways to get its news. Political ads can become easily lost.
Mailers: Sending large postcards can be very effective, however, many look at it as “junk mail” and many are tossed in the trash. Hiring an experienced print and mail shop can save you a fortune because of they have access to special postage rates and know the ropes.
Robocalls: These are pre-recorded messages sent by phone. Studies show mixed results and some states have restrictions. Many experienced political consultants use robocalls because you can easily target groups and it is the technology that requires the least amount of ramp up time and is the most inexpensive since you only pay for the calls that get delivered.
Also, it is the technology that can be used at the very end of the campaign to respond to last minute attacks. A drawback: Most of the 30 and under crowd don’t have landlines and their numbers are not listed or available with the voter registration records.
Town Hall Teleconference: An amazing tool that is used by many in Congress and is being adopted by state and local candidates. This service calls thousands of voters and invites them into a live conference call that is hosted by the office holder or candidate. Not only can the candidate discuss whatever issues he or she wants to in a live forum, but the system can also do instant polling and candidates have the ability to screen calls. You can expect to see more of this technology used in the future.
Virtual Online Phone Dialer: This service mixes live phone calling with pre-recorded messages. For example, in California candidates cannot leave a pre-recorded message on the phone unless a live person calls first and asks permission to play it. The online phone dialer does just that — a campaign agent calls, gets permission, and then hits a button on their computer so the voter can hear the message. While the message from the candidate is playing, the agent is already on to the next call, repeating the process.
Conference Calling: One of the most overlooked internal campaign tools. Conference calls conducted every morning with the candidate, staff and volunteers, keeps everyone on the same page and instantly prioritizes the day’s activities. It’s the fastest, easiest and most effective way to keep everyone in the loop and staying on message.