So what is paid media? TAKE SOME ANSWERS – you want to get TV and radio ads, newspaper ads, internet advertising, direct mail. Take all the answers, but keep an eye out for any of the following – lit drops, fundraising letters, billboards, yard signs, buttons, etc. Lit drops are when a campaign goes to a neighborhood and just leaves flyers at every house, on every car – there is no targeting or real communication based on messaging.
Paid media is advertising that the campaign PURCHASES to move your message to a broad audience and connect with voters. These can be television, radio, newspaper, and internet advertising as well as direct mail. Paid Media that we discuss today is about VOTER CONTACT AND COMMUNICATION that you pay for. Paid media is NOT literature drops, billboards, yard signs, buttons, and bumper stickers – those are visibility materials – they don ’t actively communicate a message and persuade voters. Each option for paid media has its pros and cons and those should inform whether your campaign uses them or not. (Briefly go through the pros and cons of each type of paid media, this whole slide should take now more than 3-4 minutes, hopefully less) TV : Television is still the most dominant form of media and one of the most effective because it appeals to eye and ear, emotions and mind. TV reaches a broad audience efficiently and relatively cost effectively on a per contact basis. Still, it is extremely expensive because it reaches so many people. While you are able to target somewhat (e.g. cable by geography, demographics based on shows, etc.), you may still be talking to the many of the wrong people, or people who can ’t vote for you. Radio : Radio can be broadly targeted and reach people in places TV cannot –cars (during drive time) and at work (on the office radio). Radio is not as dynamic as TV because it appeals to one sense – hearing. Although on a per spot basis it is much cheaper than TV, radio can also be almost as expensive as TV in many media markets to cover the same number of target listeners. Radio is very effective for reinforcing other paid media more than being the backbone of a paid media program It can also be helpful when reinforcing earned media and a field program. Newspaper : For each country you should do research on actual readers of newspapers, but it is a dwindling amount of people that do buy and read papers every day. In general we know that older citizens, senior citizens, are avid and regular readers of newspapers. These citizens tend also to be regular and likely voters. So newspapers can be a great outlet for targeted messages to likely voters of a certain age, but because they are LIKELY voters, they are also more likely to know who they are voting for, so who are you really persuading? Newspapers are a relatively static media and appeal only to readers – and an increasingly fewer number of them as newspaper purchasers decline and the business continues to worsen around the world. On the plus side, newspaper ads can convey more substantive information and newspaper readership overwhelmingly consists of likely voters – but just as most regular readers of papers are likely to vote, they are also more likely to actually know who they are voting for and not be undecided voters. In dailies, you can target specific types of voters (like readers of the sports section as opposed to the front page), but targeting is very imprecise, so you might be paying for ads in a paper that is mostly read by folks who either know who they are voting for or not in your district. Other advantages include the general legitimacy that is still given to newsprint over other forms of paid mass media. Limitations for dailies include fewer readers and the static nature of the medium. Most ads are also placed amid the clutter of other ads. If you place an ad it needs to be placed multiple times and be large enough to stand out (1/4 – full page). You will often get better results by utilizing specific constituency or ethnic press (like women ’s newspapers, labor papers, minority press). In addition, in rural districts, community weeklies are well-read mediums for a campaign message. Community weeklies can be highly targeted by geography and are read differently -- for local information – not the shoppers or coupons weeklies! With the ethnic and constituency press, these are read intensely by those communities they serve, even better if these are your targets. In the end though, it is important to talk to the advertising department of the paper and ask the real question: How many subscribers do they have in your constituency? Do they have a breakdown of ages that subscribe? Will they share other statistics about their readers and subscribers? It ’s only right to research what you get when you buy an advertisement. Internet Advertising: The Internet is an emerging medium, and more people are getting info from the web as newspaper readership declines, but generally UNDECIDED voters aren’t going to the internet to research candidates (except in primary situations). internet ads are relatively inexpensive and can be targeted to pop up when certain pages are accessed (like local newspaper front pages, or issue related blogs) or tagged so they emerge when a specific word is searched for, or pops up in an article. This allows for extraordinary flexibility in targeting ads. The downside is that internet ads are often the junk mail of the electronic world – annoyances that are clicked through to get to what you really want to see. One of the effective uses of internet ads is to drive BASE voters to take an action, and indeed in larger campaigns, internet advertising has proven efficient for building a base, volunteers and raising money. But so far, there is no proof that internet advertising works for persuading voters at lower level and down ballot campaigns. More and more tests are being done, but it is hard to target specifically to voters who generally do not pay attention to these things until later. We will discuss more details about online organizing and strategy later today. Direct Mail : Done right, direct mail is one of the most effective and efficient methods of direct voter contact to your target audience. Because it is mailed, you can address it to an individual voter at their house. You can easily time it to land in mailboxes around other paid media like radio or TV, and time it around voter contact like phone calls and door knocking. It is relatively cheap compared to TV and Radio. But we all know the biggest negative of direct mail – there is the problem that people get a lot of junk mail, so design, messaging and being creative is key to make direct mail effective! We will do much more detail on direct mail a little later in this session! What it isn’t Lit drops Fundraising Letters Visibility: Billboards, Yard Signs, Bumper Stickers, etc . None of these are persuasion and communication – these are all great for base activism and visibility.
Almost every campaign, no matter the size will choose to do some persuasion through paid media, paid advertising. Like everything else in campaigns, decisions around paid media will be based on campaign resources and the plan! For both large and small races, paid media is always a balancing act between what the campaign would ideally like to do (and what is most effective at reaching voters) and what the campaign can afford. Like we discussed in the session on direct voter contact there are rules of thumb for the effective use of paid media, but seldom iron-clad dictums. Each tool has its uses and its limitations.
It is important to dominate the dominant media – and your campaign chooses what the dominant media will be. Based on your assessment of your targeted voters, your resources, you decide what your dominant media is and you build your paid media strategy around it. One of the rules of effective campaign messaging is to deliver it with frequency and repetition. In our direct voter contact section, we talked about the importance of repeated voter contacts – either in the field (at the door or on the phone) or through quality paid media. Ideally, by the end of the campaign, a persuasion target voter should have received multiple contact (between 7-12) direct contacts from the campaign. The same goes for paid media. The goal is to maximize the number of times the right voters hear the message. Because of this, it is important when planning your paid media strategy to dominate one medium and not spread yourself too thin. If, for instance, a campaign has $100,000 to spend on its paid media, doing some radio and some cable television and a couple of direct mail pieces may not get you in either case to the levels you need to have an impact. Instead, the campaign may decide to dominate radio with all of the paid media budget, assuming that sufficient numbers of targeted voters are included in the radio audience in a cost effective manner. The dominating strategy applies when you are deciding on direct mail versus paid advertising as well.
As we said, one of the rules of effective campaign messaging is to deliver it with frequency and repetition. The goal is to maximize the number of times the right voters hear the message. Because there are a certain number of times that people have to run an ad for your target voters to not only see them, but hear them, and see and hear them again and again, so the message gets through – it can get expensive. You want to avoid the dabble approach. Deciding to put some money into mail and some into radio or cable television can lead to too little for any one to be effective. One or two scattered direct mail pieces will have almost no impact at all. You will be wasting your precious resources if you dabble because you want to have a little of everything. There are rules of thumb for effective frequency and repetition of a single ad. Think about how many spots of that one ad you seem to see a lot, think how many times it has to run for you to catch it twice or 3 times a day? You cannot just buy 1 spot. Generally stations sell ads by either spots or points – Gross Ratings Points. For example, for television, an ad should run a between 600 and 1200 points a week, the goal of which is that your average viewer will see it between 6 and 12 times that week. One radio ad should run a minimum of 30 times per week on the same station to break through and be heard in sufficient repetition to make a difference. IF you are doing a direct mail program, which we will talk about in detail a little later – each targeted voter for persuasion needs to receive between 5 and 12 pieces of mail. Yes – one person gets that much mail – remember its all about repetition. Finally for newspaper ads, it is important to run newspapers ads 4-5 times for it to sink through and get into the reader ’s mind. You can imagine that if these are the minimums, how a paid media plan that talks to the targeted voters repeatedly, could get expensive.
Too many campaigns spend money on paid media that doesn’t even reach their targeted voters. Be smart about this. With few exceptions, your paid media should be planned and purchased based on your targeted voter universe so that they are the ones seeing it, reading it, hearing it.
Your paid media should be integrated with the rest of your campaign, including your voter contact work and your earned media plan (which we’ll talk about later today). In addition, given the gloomy trends for traditional broadcast media, more and more campaigns are working to fit radio and television advertising into a holistic approach to direct voter contact by integrating and then layering paid contact with your mail and volunteer contact program. When advertising, you should always integrate what you are doing on the ground with your paid advertising to maximize message impact and reinforce your different tactics. Creatively combining paid media and volunteer contacts can lead to breakthroughs with voters. For instance, if you are running a race in a suburban community with lots of commuters, you may be buying drive time radio advertising to reach people, and you may want to reinforce the ad with a billboard on the main commuting route that ties into the radio ad (one of the only times buying billboards may make sense because it is a very passive, very untargeted and expensive medium). Or you could buy a print ad and then do a robo call to your target audience encouraging them to look at your ad in today ’s paper. This layering only increases the chances for voters to remember and hear the message, and makes your paid more cost effective.
Timing is important with paid media. The reason airwaves are filled with political ads in the last two to three weeks of an election is that ’s the time when many undecided, swing voters make up their minds. So timing out your media buys from Election Day backwards is important. Likewise, this is the time where there is the most clutter and is hardest to break through, so quality of the paid media matters. If you are going to put up media early, there is a general rule of thumb that reads once you start talking to voters (in the field and/or paid media), you must continue. Early exposure followed by silence means the early media money ends up being wasted because people forget the message. This is why layering paid media with a robust and thoughtful direct voter contact plan is so important. If you are running radio ads and paying for direct mail at the right rates, then adding door knocks and phone calls and a few rallies over the same period can only help the message get through.
If a cable spot goes for $2 a spot it is probably because relatively fewer people are watching – or it is plain dumb luck that your spot gets put where you want it. Media is sold by “points” which means that you tend to get what you pay for. Avoid paying for media that goes to people who can ’t vote for you. We’re about to do a case study that focuses on how this is done!
Need to balance between what is the best media approach, and what is affordable (and available). E.G. TV may be the best media to reach the most voters in the most powerful way, but it is not affordable for your school board race. What might be most affordable is mail.
Let ’s turn to some examples to illustrate the process of deciding whether and how to invest in broadcast advertising. We are going to use an example for a local race in the United States. In the state of Minnesota, for a state Senate race. The Eighth Senate District sits between the two biggest cities of Minnesota -- Minneapolis/St. Paul to the south and Duluth to the north. It is a geographically large rural district, running about 100 miles long and 50 miles wide. There are 79,384 eligible voters, and you’ve already done your targeting which has found that about 50,000 voters will turn out on Election Day. You have also identified a target persuadable universe of about 10,000 voters scattered throughout the district. Your total budget for the campaign is $65,000.
The campaign did research to identify all the paid media options and media outlets in their district and here ’s what they found: There are two network television markets: Duluth and the Twin Cities. Three local cable networks are located in the district. There are many radio stations in Duluth and the Twin Cities, and six local radio stations located throughout the district. There are three daily newspapers – two in the Twin Cities and one in Duluth – with coverage in the district. In addition there are eight local weekly newspapers. At the same time they did their research, they also did cost pricing for each option.
Although television is the way to connect with the largest number of target voters in the district, you quickly conclude that television advertising is too expensive. In addition to production costs, purchasing ad time is impossible. A minimum ad buy in Duluth costs $36,000 and a minimum buy in the Twin Cities is $330,000. Obviously this is not an option, unless you want to spend half your entire budget on a minimal purchase on Duluth TV, which only reaches half. the residents of the district, but also reaches people in two other states – Wisconsin and Michigan.
Metro radio is also too expensive. A minimum buy in Duluth is $20,400 While a minimum buy in the Twin Cities is $228,000. Like television, this is one of the most powerful ways to reach broad numbers of voters in the district, but your ads will also be heard by hundreds of thousands of listeners who live outside the district as well.
The dailies in the two metro areas are way too expensive: a minimum buy (meaning 4-5 runs) in Duluth is nearly $4,000, and the minimum buy in the Twin Cities is $31,500. Moreover, the metro dailies do not reach many of your targeted voters. The subscription rates are a tiny tiny fraction of your persuadable, targeted voters of 10,000 Less than 2,000 people live within the circulation area of the Duluth newspapers, and even fewer live within the Twin Cities circulation area.
Weekly newspapers, however, reach a wide number of voters in the district. The eight weekly papers reach an estimated 20,000 voters – 10 times the number of voters reach by the metro papers. And in this district because it is more rural than urban, local papers are important – they only come out once a week, but the entire community tends to read them because it has truly local information. And the cost, of course, is far less. A minimum buy – one fairly large ad (27 column inches) in EACH paper every week for five weeks – is a total of $4,410.
Additionally, advertising on local radio stations is quite affordable. For a minimum buy on ALL SIX local stations combined, the cost is $990 per week, which is a fraction of the cost of metro radio. While there are obviously fewer listeners to these local stations, and the coverage of the district is incomplete compared to metro radio and TV, the listeners all live in the district and can be targeted for specific messages. In addition, remember this is a rural district, and in rural districts radio is still a huge connector in the community, with not just traffic, news and music, but also agricultural reports, etc.
After looking at all these numbers and thinking about their targets, the campaign made this decision on the their paid media budget. Remember, the campaign ’s total budget is $65,000. In general, you should plan on spending about 65-75% of your budget on direct voter contact, which is roughly $50,000. Here ’s what actually happened. The bulk of the money for voter contact went to direct mail to the identified 10,000 persuadable voters (based on previous IDs, the voter file, and targeting). Eight CONTACTS equals 80,000 pieces or about $40,000 of the $65,000 budget. The campaign’s paid media program then aimed to augment this targeted direct mail (their dominant medium) with local paid media. Three weeks of decent radio coverage on all six stations cost $5,000. This was further supplemented with the relatively inexpensive weekly newspapers are, which accounted for another $5,000 for a five week run (one ad per week) in all eight weekly newspapers. In total, $50,000 was spent on direct voter contact and paid media, or 76.9% of the overall budget and the campaign won both a contested primary and general election. In this example, it wasn’t worth it to make a significant investment in broadcast advertising (on television or cable). It was too expensive and too inefficient relative to other methods of voter contact. Normally we would like a few more dollars being spent on voter contact, but as we learned that this district was very big geographically and mostly rural, it is hard to knock on every door, so the campaign did an intensive volunteer voter contact program in the bigger towns and did mail and volunteer phone calls throughout the rest of the district. Since you always want to dominate one medium first before moving on to others, in this case you want to dominate direct mail, and then complement those contacts with limited radio and newspaper ads.
So now that we’ve focused on paid media, we want to spend some time today on Direct Mail. For many small races/campaigns, direct mail will be the only form of paid communications that you do, since it is a highly targeted. Direct mail is designed to get people ’s attention and to provoke an emotional response from voters. Voters need to care about an issue or a candidate before you can persuade them to support your campaign. This session is designed to give you and your campaigns, and your candidates, the ability to design your own mail since it is rare that there will be Direct Mail consultants available to you. Let ’s review the pros and cons of Direct Mail. While television and radio advertising can reach more people and can evoke emotion with pictures and sound, direct mail has several advantages over other paid media methods: It can be highly Targeted . TV and radio will be often be seen by far more people not in your target audience than those who are in that audience. You are therefore spending a lot of money on delivering a message to people who either don ’t live in your district, don’t vote at all, or won’t be voting for you. Direct mail, on the other hand, is targeted directly to the individual voter you are targeting and can be targeted to specific content or issues that are important to that voter. One voter might get a direct mail piece on the environmental and global climate change while her neighbor might get one on fair trade and the need to stop outsourcing. Using precinct-level information from past elections, your voter file, and the information you have gathered from your voter ID work, you can target your mail specifically to voters you know are undecided. To that end, direct mail is far more efficient than other paid media tactics. It can be combined with Field and Media : Direct Mail is relatively inexpensive to combine field strategy with your communications and paid media plan, as well as your voter contact plan to make it all more effective and likely to be heard and remembered. It is relatively cheap : Even if you hire a consultant/professional to design and manage your mail program, it can be a much cheaper way to emotionally connect with your audience and your message repeatedly. Having talked about all the benefits of direct mail, we also understand its limitations. The biggest problem, of course, is that many voters treat direct mail as junk mail. It ’s easy to ignore direct mail when it lands in your mailbox amid the bills and credit card offers we receive every day. In addition, despite your ability to target direct mail to individual voters, direct mail remains a relatively impersonal mode of communicating. As we know, the best way to reach voters is with personal, one-on-one conversations, preferably at their door or on the phone. Done right, direct mail can be one of the most effective and efficient methods of direct voter contact to your target audience. But done badly, it can be the easiest way to waste precious campaign resources.
The biggest challenge with direct mail is making a connection with voters as quickly as possible. Keep in mind, for example, that there are three types of people who will be reading your direct mail. The first group is what we call the 7 second audience : people who read the mail piece between picking it up in the mailbox and throwing it in the garbage. These people essentially treat the mail as junk mail, but in the seven seconds they spend glancing at it, they notice the photo, a headline, and maybe a campaign slogan. That ’s about all they see. It’s not much, but it is a contact. This is the group newspapers target with front-page photos above the fold and large headlines. The second group is what we call the 10-20 second audience : people who actually stop and look at a mail piece, read the headlines, and scan the text to see if they are interested. They take about 10-20 seconds to look at the piece, probably look at both sides of it and then throw it away. Using the newspaper example, these readers are what newspapers try to capture with the increasingly popular longer sub headline, cut-out quotes, cut-lines under photos, etc. Most websites are created for this type of a glancing/scanning audience. The third group is the readers . They read every word of the mail piece, are probably well informed about the issues and have been following the campaign. These are the folks who buy the Sunday paper and try to read it all. This audience will always want to know more, so mail pieces with their limited size need to point the reader to an information source e.g. a website where they can find more information. In this day and age, the readers of mail tend to be senior citizens, and that’s a good thing, since often, they are in are target universes, but it’s important to keep in mind when designing mail for them. To the extent possible, you want your mail to connect with each of these groups. So each item, the photos, the headlines and the copy (the text) must be thoughtful, on message, and connect. In the end, no matter what we do, the audience is going to take what we send them and summarize it in their minds anyway, so why shouldn’t we, the campaign, give them the summary of what WE want them to take away. This is the challenge of direct mail!
There are many tactics and uses for Direct Mail in a campaign as a key communication outlet for our targets. Message reinforcement . Because it is highly targeted, mail is a great way to target specific voters to reinforce other campaign messages and contacts. Layering door knocks and phone calls with mail, makes all those contacts even more effective. Tactical Messaging: If you plan your voter contact correctly and your campaign is collecting information about specific voters at the doors and on the phones, and you know what issues and concerns they have, mail is the only form of paid media that can specifically follow up with them on the exact issues and concerns they told you about. You can send Jane Doe mail about the environment and John Doe mail about jobs because you know they have told you those are their top concerns. Also messages and issues you may NOT WANT BROADCAST ON TV OR RADIO. Contrast: Use of contrast. Direct mail is a very effective means of contrasting your position with your opponent ’s. For some campaigns, that means direct mail is a way of delivering hard-hitting messages against an opponent without broadcasting that to a wide audience. Negative : Direct mail is also an effective way to go negative on your opponent. While we don ’t believe in over-the-top personal attacks (which you often see in direct mail, particularly at the end of a campaign), campaigns are ultimately about choices and mail is well-suited for hard contrasts on issues. It is proper and okay to tell the truth about your opponent – just make sure it is true and does not over-reach or it will be seen as not credible and possibly backfire. Because mail goes to someone's home, rather than a negative TV ad, it is not as broadly seen, where it can backfire, but sent to voters who you have targeted that might most need to hear your opponent’s negatives. 5. Early Vote/Absentee/Vote By Mail: With more and more states doing these types of voting options, direct mail has emerged as a very effective tactic for TURNING OUT our voters, as a GOTV tactic, especially for early vote, absentee and/or Vote by Mail. You already talked about GOTV earlier today, but the point of this mail is less about campaign messaging, but about making sure your voters take advantage of these options (if your state has them) AND that voting these ways is easy, safe and secure. We’ll now go through some examples of each of these
Speaking of a message reinforcement, here ’s one from South Dakota on behalf of a Congresswoman. One of candidate Herseth’s, central messages was the importance of keeping young people in South Dakota instead of their leaving to find jobs and go to school, depleting the state of a future. It was the core of her campaign message and was what her supporters talked about at the doors and on the phones and also in her TV and radio ads. This is the front of the piece. It ’s easy to be drawn into this piece. The headline is very short and simple, and the photo draws the reader into the beautiful eyes of the child. Not accidentally, if you look closely at the child’s eye, you’ll see the image of a white clapboard house reflected. If you are a 7 second reader, this photo might make you become a 10-20 second reader and read the headlines, and flip it over and read the headlines on the other side….
Here ’s the other side of the same piece. It’s a great photo of Herseth and the quote is compelling in a state where a lot of parents and grandparents indeed have to travel far to see their children and grandkids. This piece has a fair amount of text – I actually think too much – and many people won ’t read. BUT it is laid out in a simple, clear way that allows you to quickly scan the important headlines and read further about specific issues if you want to. Another thing to note about this piece is that it uses footnotes and research to back up claims. Footnotes are important because they demonstrate that there is a third party that can verify the claims made here. They lend credibility to the points made in the piece and pre-empt any claims of inaccuracy from opponents.
( I LIKE TO READ THE BLOW OUT LINES HERE< PEOPLE USUALLY LAUGH) This piece was targeted to young women, with infrequent vote history, ages 18-34 who were also known to be pro-choice (either by previous issue IDs or modeling) The headline grabs the reader and every word is written in a tone designed to speak to them – this sarcastic and snarky tone would not work with older women, 45-65, even those who were pro-choice, so they got a different type of mail! A good example of very tactical messaging, this issue is too polarizing for major tv ads and radio ads, but with this kind of smartly targeted mail, a great tactical decision.
In this piece, the campaign knew that the elderly, voters over the age of 67, were a key target - they made up 20% of the voters in this city council district. So this piece was specifically designed to be mailed ONLY TO people in this age bracket. It is clearly not something that younger voters would respond to. All of the photos are local to the town of Duluth, pictures of the town from the 1930s to the 1950s and of actual citizens of the town from those years a well, and of local Duluthians from District from the 1930s-50s. When people turn it over, they see the bottom portion. Now this has quite a lot of text and for almost every other demographic, we would say, this is too much. But one thing that we know about older voters in the United States for instance is that they are READERS – they read all their mail. The only thing about this mail piece is that on both sides, the font is cursive and hard to read – for someone young, harder for an elder reader. Our colleague Erik designed this piece and the campaign lost by 12 votes, and he’s convinced it’s because of the cursive!!!
This piece is an example of contrast. On one side, we learn basics in pictures and headlines about our candidate for US Senate. There ’s no contrast yet, and in some ways this is smart – because depending on how well you design your mail, the less obvious that it is political, or a political attack, the more likely that the voter will turn it over and look at the other side where the campaign can continue the message. On the other side (the bottom portion of this slide), we lean simply what our candidate is for and on the right side We see the info on the opponent, basic contrast on 3 key issues.
This is an example of negative mail, that actually looks and feels negative, but because it is visually interesting, it is certainly going to attack all three mail audiences to turn it over. It ’s not obvious political mail. The baby’s picture is the front and not obviously political and might catch the eye of all the audiences, and convert the 7 second to a 10-20 second reader by flipping it open and reading the inside (here on the bottom)
When they open it, it is very negative and it could be over the top in fact it is so negative, but the campaign has documented all its allegations with newspaper clippings and citations. When making a negative attack in particular, credibility is critical and neutral “seconders” are very important. For the 10-20 second reader, there are clear headlines to read and scan, and even scanning you see the citations, and your message is transferred, even in that short period of time.
Here’s an example of a vote by mail/absentee mail piece, first of all targeted to OUR voters and of those, the ones we want to vote early (possibly staff, volunteers, donors, senior citizens, college students, etc.) Simple piece, message is not campaign related but process related, that voting by mail is easy, safe and secure.
Here’s the other side. One thing we don’t like about this piece is that is says Avoid the Lines! We’ve now learned from research that going on and on about how long the lines are when voting, is not actually an incentive (to vote by mail or vote in general ) But the other side repeats the safe easy secure message!
As I mentioned earlier, many of you will not only have to craft the message of your campaigns, and test it in research, but also have to design the mail yourselves. So we want to spend some time on actual design tips that can help you think this through, and show you examples so whether you design your own or hire someone, you know what to look for! With Direct Mail, visual layout is of utmost importance. Don ’t start with what you want the voter to read, but think about what you want the voter to see and feel . Photos and headlines should make up between 50-60%, if not more of the piece. Use good photos. Bad photos equal bad mail. Period. Photos capture people ’s attention and draw them into the mail piece. Avoid using bland headshots of the candidate – use action photos of the candidate interacting with people, preferably not those horrible posed shots of candidate with worker and hard hat, candidate with senior and prescription drug bottle, candidate with student and knapsack or student loan application, or a candidate with farmer in bibs. These are not only boring and predictable, they waste precious space without communicating any message besides the fact that you have some friends who are willing to pose for you. Make sure the photos are big enough for the seven-second voters to see and remember. In general your headlines should be short and concise and clearly get out your campaign ’s message and narrative. Last but not least, avoid being overtly political – voters don ’t like that they get political mail, they hate politics – so try to do a design and pictures and headlines that draw the reader in, not remind them of something they generally don’t like – politics. Let ’s look at some examples now:
Using images that are non-political and out of the box can be a very effective way to get voters to pay attention. This piece presents the theme of this campaign in a very straight-forward, eye-catching way. Voters will look at this and hopefully flip it over.
Keep it simple but make an impact. This is not the time to show off how many different fonts you can use and all the different colors you can cram into a mail piece. The rule generally is less is more. Headline fonts should be crisp and large enough to read. Text fonts should be easily readable and should not go below 12pt. Font sizes less than this are not readable for a broad audience. Tightly packed or dense pieces will be tossed or set aside more easily. White space is a good thing, and layout should direct the eye to read the piece according to the sequence you intend. The rules on good messaging apply to direct mail: simple, straightforward messages connect with voters. The one on the left evokes a feeling as well, and has basic headlines and if you wanted you could QUICKLY read some info – these are both walk cards/palm cards/lit – but the same rules apply to direct mail that goes in the mail as well!
This piece is a perfect example of how one bad photo can change the whole feel of the piece. This is a bad picture with bad colors, clearly staged and not real. It seems like ages old and who is ever that happy to be at the doctor? It is also obviously political, I mean, “who has the best plan to lower health care costs?” Riveting! Who wants to turn this over at all to read the rest?
This piece is not very effective. It is too obviously a piece of political mail and most voters don ’t want to talk about politics or care about it. For the US, this is overload in politics with the red white and blue, the flags, the stars on her names, and she’s at a podium speaking – nothing about it is real or authentic, let alone the picture of the candidate. All of these are visual cues to the reader/voter.
The mail must also reflect the candidate and the district/state/electorate/community , and this has to do as much with design as with authenticity and message. Use photos that show the candidates in their best light --- do not surround them with fake shots. In combination with this, the mail must continue with simple and concise messaging, This piece only works in a rural district, and this is the candidate ’s actual hunting dog. And people knew it. It’s his real dog, not a stage, he’s a little bedraggled. It’s a letter from the dog (bullet) to the community – I think it’s lame (a letter from a dog), but I’m not a resident or voter in rural Missouri. And people were talking about this piece for a long time!
Clear, easily digested headlines … and a gimmick to pull you in. This could be for any of our three audiences. ( Read the piece in total)
( Read this piece in total) Sometimes less really is more. This works because it actually conveys a lot of who this person is – a no nonsense conservative who gets the basics done. And look at this picture! Usually I hate a head shot, but can’t you just hear this older grumpy looking sort of man saying each of these words? It makes it more authentic!
Continuing on the importance of visual layout, it is important to think about fonts. They can change the entire feel of a piece for the reader. Font : Serif fonts read horizontally and are good for text this is the font right here on the slide that has “feet” underneath each letter– Sans serif fonts standout and are good for headlines – these are WITHOUT FEET Font size : no smaller than 12pt, and usually much bigger to allow for easy to read headlines and less copy heavy mail If you have supporters or volunteers who have graphic design experience, please work with them for their advice on this design work.
We talked about fonts earlier, let ’s look at the same piece, with different fonts. CLICK Here is one version. CLICK Here is the second version Who likes the one on the left? (people raise hands) Who likes the one on the right? (people raise hands) Different people like each version, the colors aren’t great for the fonts, but you can see they feel and look different. And in face one has “feet” and one has no “feet” but in the end, it is very subjective and can change the whole feeling of a piece.
So what ’s wrong with this piece? (People will say the picture, the red line through his name, too much copy and they are all correct) Fonts are all wrong and make the piece hard to read and focus. The serifs (the details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up the letters) and all caps on the name don ’t work. The photo needs to be taken in a way that doesn’t emphasize the larger head. And last but not least, he has a RED LINE crossing through his name – this is a negative connotation, like people are against him. What could have happened here is that they asked someone in DESIGN to do their lit, and I can see why they thought it would be cutting edge, but it’s wrong for campaigns and persuasion!
The rules on good messaging apply to direct mail: simple, straightforward messages connect with voters. In general, your headlines should be short and concise and clearly get out your campaign ’s message and narrative.
Here ’s another example of a simple and concise message – to show that you don’t need a lot of words to convey a message and value. The first is of a mail piece that is simple and clear. The candidate was Harry Kennedy, who was running for re-election to the Missouri State Senate in the US. Here ’s the front of the piece: CLICK This is a pretty catchy mail piece – the penny with the candidate ’s head superimposed on it catches your attention, and the message makes you want to read more. Some might say that calling him “cheap” (even with tax dollars) is a negative, and that might be true, but it’s catchy enough that it’s a risk worth taking. Now check out the other side: CLICK This entire mail piece consists of 18 words, yet anyone reading this gets the message. It ’s clear, simple, and conveys a message that Harry Kennedy is on your side if you think that government needs to be more frugal and that he backs up his words with actions (by not taking a pay increase).
Direct mail is a great way to deliver multiple contacts to your audience, and it relies on repetition, which is the key to voter contact as well. In fact, a mail piece is only really effective if part of a series. Adnaan Muslim, a direct mail professional and veteran of many campaigns, describes the importance of repeated contacts bluntly: “If you’re doing just one or two pieces, you might as well just take the money you’re spending and burn it.” So how much is right and over what period of time? A rule of thumb to follow is that you should do a minimum of five pieces to a targeted voter , and potentially up to 12 , for direct mail to have an impact in persuasion and moving a voter. This may seem like a lot, but remember, it builds over time and they are not reading the entire thing – usually. One advantage of direct mail is that you have more control over how many times your audience is contacted. With TV and radio advertising, you never really know how many times your intended audience is seeing or hearing your message. You can make accurate guesses (through sophisticated ad buys that a media consultant will help you make), but there ’s no way to guarantee a person who needs to see your ad will see it once, much less multiple times. With direct mail, you control the frequency of message delivery and the sequence of that contact. (This can be done with other paid media as well but high production costs make great flexibility impractical for most campaigns.) It’s also best and your mail is made more effective when it’s integrated with door knocks and phone calls, and maybe there’s an earned media event on education the same week that you drop an education mail piece! Or maybe you print out 12,545 mail pieces for your universe and but order 15000, so that when the mail drops on Thursday, that Saturday, you give your canvassers the extras to door knock with that weekend – it’s helpful layering and makes your walk and contacts more effective as well. Because your targeted audience is going to get at least 5 pieces, it cannot be the same exact mail piece each time, you are telling a story, so each piece should build on a common theme and reinforce the same broad campaign message - do not assume that a voter will remember the previous piece so do not have one piece require the understanding of previous pieces. (it may look great all spread out on a coffee table, but think of it spread out over three weeks in a person ’s trash) Let’s look at an example of this now:
For a great example of using repetition to reinforce message in direct mail, look at this series from Marty Markowitz ’s successful run for Brooklyn Borough President. It’s not hard to see the consistent theme in these mail pieces, which were timed to hit mailboxes over the course of several weeks. In the first example, the photo of the couple is almost all you need to know about Markowitz’s character: no one can fake that look. In the background is the Brooklyn Bridge. ( READ THE COPY NOW) The focus is less on Markowitz and more on Brooklyn – you get the sense that this guy really loves Brooklyn (and his wife). And of course, the photo is great – note the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. On the back, voters learned about all that he had done in his first term to make Brooklyn a place to go for NYC tourist and bring tourism jobs and money to the area. The theme continues in the next piece:
( READ THE COPY NOW) Again, this piece has the same look and feel as the first one, but this time it ’s about health care on the back.
( READ THE COPY NOW) And in this one, which was what we call the bio piece- the piece that tells his personal story. Each piece in this series builds on the last one. After seeing these three pieces, it ’s hard to argue with the slogan at the bottom: “As Brooklyn as they come!” There were about 10 of these, that also matched the scripts and tone of his door knock program and his tv ads, and it all fit together.
Fundamentals of Paid Media & Direct MailWellstone Action
What Paid Media is• Advertising that you buy to move your message and connect with voters – Television – Radio – Newspaper – Internet Advertising – Direct Mail (field & media) – Billboards (mostly visibility)Wellstone Action
Putting together a Paid Media Program Key Paid Media RulesWellstone Action
Rule #1 Dominate the dominant media. • What this is depends on the size of the race and the geography (media markets) available. • All other media should reinforce and extend this dominant medium and message.Wellstone Action
Rule #2 Paid media works through repetition. • Avoid the “dabble” approach: – A little radio, couple newspaper ads, a direct mail piece, and 20-30 cable spots. • Target minimum frequency: – Television: 12 times/ad (6x/wk) – Radio: 12 times/ad (30 spots/wk) – Direct mail: 5-12 pieces – Newspaper ad: 4-5 runs of adWellstone Action
Rule #3 Target your media to your targeted voters. • What is your goal? – Your win number? – Your targeted voters? • E.g. If your target says you need married women age 25-45 to win – choose the medium that best connects with these voters.Wellstone Action
Rule #4 Paid media works best when integrated. • Paid media should reinforce field and earned media – and everything in the campaign should convey your core message.Wellstone Action
Rule #5 Time media to when voters pay attention. • Most voters make up their minds in the last 2-3 weeks – that is when most of your paid media should hit. • Exception to every rule: that is also when the most clutter will be around.Wellstone Action
Rule #6 Use media dollars efficiently. • You communicate to the number of people you pay for: cheap buy = few people • Avoid paying for media that goes to people who can’t vote for you.Wellstone Action
The Lesson: Need Balance between the two: What’s affordableWhat’s bestWellstone Action
Paid media example Senate District 8 Minnesota • 79,384 eligible voters • Est. 50,000 voter turnout • $65,000 budget • Mostly rural – about 100 miles long by 50 miles wideWellstone Action
Available media sources Senate District 8 • TV: Duluth and Twin Cities • Radio: Duluth, Twin Cities, 6 local stations • Newspapers: Dailies: Duluth, Minneapolis; Weeklies: 8 local • Cable: 3 local cable networksWellstone Action
Metro TV too expensive • TV: Duluth – Min Buy: = $36,000 • TV: Minneapolis-St. Paul – Min Buy: = $330,000Wellstone Action
Metro Radio too expensive• Radio: Duluth – Min Buy: 1200 pts = $20,400 – Per station/week: 30 spots@$25=$750/wk• Radio: Minneapolis-St. Paul – Min Buy: 1200 pts = $228,000 Wellstone Action
Dailies - too few …too much• Newspaper: Duluth – Circ: 1835 live in District – Min Buy = $3,885• Newspaper: Minneapolis – Circ: ~1700 live in District – MinWellstone Action Buy = $31,500
Buying Local Paid Newspaper Senate District 8• Weeklies: – 8 local weeklies: ~20,000 in District Cloquet – Min Buy (6”x7” ad) = $4,410• Metro Dailies: Moose Lake – Duluth = $3,885 (1,835 circulation) – Mpls: = $31,500 (1,500-2,000 circulation) Askov Sandstone Hinkley Mora Pine City Wellstone Action
Buying Local Paid Radio Senate District 8• Local Radio: – 6 local stations – Min Buy = Cloquet $990/week• Metro Radio: – Duluth: $750/wk Moose Lake per station – Twin Cities: $7,500-10,000/wk Askov Sandstone Hinkley Mora Pine City Wellstone Action
Sample Paid Media Budget Senate District 8 Minnesota • $65,000 total budget • Direct Mail: $40,000 – Dominant media: ~80,000 pieces (~10,000 target voters) • Local Radio: $5,000 – 3 weeks radio all 6 stations • Local Weeklies: $5,000 – 5 weeks/every week/all 8 papers • $50,000 for media/mail (77%)Wellstone Action
Direct Mail Think Audience1. Three audiences • 7-second (pictures – name – slogan) • 10-20 second (headlines) • The readers (text for those who want more)Wellstone Action
Direct Mail2. Uses of direct mail• Message reinforcement layered with other contacts• Tactical Messaging to communicate precisely targeted messages to different audiences• Hard contrast to deliver hard contrast and comparison• Negative use to deliver negative (but fair) attack• Early Vote, Absentee, VBM to target voter registration and different voting alternatives. Wellstone Action
Tactical messageRaise your hands if you have ever hada gynecological exam.One more good reason why sevenmiddle-aged white guys shouldnt’t bewriting laws to restrict our reproductivefreedom.Wellstone Action
Direct Mail3. Design • Photos-Visual: 50-60% of piece is photos or visual (photos and headlines) • Bad photos = bad mail • Headlines: 2-4 headlines – 7 words or less in each headline • Avoid Political LookWellstone Action
… and less words make them more likely to be read.Wellstone Action
Fonts• Font: Serif fonts read horizontally and are good for text – Sans serif fonts standout and are good for headlines• Font size: no smaller than 12pt – and even that, is too small!Wellstone Action
Message4. Message • Repetition: 4-12 pieces (1 or 2 pieces does not make a direct mail program) • Repeat message: Each piece should build on a common theme and reinforce the same message – even if to different audiences (they can have different angles and content)Wellstone Action