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Every campaign needs a strong integrated communications plan to ensure key points resonate with voters regardless of how the messages are consumed.
Planning starts with data analysis that targets your specific voter and helps you understand how they are unique. Demographics such as age, gender, geographic location, education level, and income provide critical insight on the best combination of channels to use for your campaign.
Depending on your goals, your team will need to determine which channels work best and how your mix of channels may need to change as you get closer to Election Day.
Here are a few guidelines to help you choose the best options for your communication needs:
Face to face
Having a direct conversation with a voter is the most effective way to share your message. Leverage every opportunity to connect with voters in person. This will move the needle on Election Day.
Speaking to a live person over the phone and making a personal connection has more persuasion power than a radio, TV or digital ad. Ensure that consistent phone banking with scripted talking points is a key part of your plan.
Website and social
These New Media staples are critical to helping your campaign create your online presence. They work seamlessly to help voters share information and build awareness for your campaign. There are dozens of social media platforms to choose from, but the right combination will help your campaign build momentum.
TV and radio
These traditional channels are often the most expensive. Television and radio marketing is used to convey a broad message to voters in a specific market. Generally, the goal is to provide information about the candidate, opponent, or issue. Both are also great at motivating voters to take a specific action. Use these channels when you need to reach a very large targeted audience. These channels are highly dependent upon timing, and a media buy is typically executed in the later months of a campaign — although that’s changing.
A media expert can help you optimize these channels by placing your advertisement during times when your target voter (based on data) is most likely to be consuming traditional media.
Newspapers and magazines help your campaign reach a variety of voters. Your target voters may include individuals that prefer to read printed material instead of online sources. Strategies such as interviews, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, and printed advertisements will be more successful with these voters than simply placing digital advertisements for the same publications online.
The mailbox remains an effective way to connect with your voters. Like TV and Radio, this channel is highly dependent upon timing. Direct mail is an effective strategy for rural campaigns where door-knocking may be difficult. Leverage direct mail campaigns to build upon a broader story with voters over the course of the campaign.
Because 99 percent of text messages are opened, mobile is emerging a highly effective channel to reach voters. These messages must be short, concise and give very specific information or direct voters to action or another channel. For example, a text message can direct users back to another channel such as a website or YouTube for more engagement.
Many campaigns start marketing a year or more ahead of Election Day. While the day-to-day issues may change, the key messaging will need to remain robust and relevant until the end. A completely integrated communication plan will help you be successful.
Kara Turrentine is the CEO of Turrency Political a full-service branding and political firm based in Nashville, Tenn.