While directly contacting voters is often times the most effective means to identify, persuade, and get out the vote, indirect voter contact methods also play a role in a political campaign. There are indirect tactics that increase candidate name recognition, persuade voters, and get out the vote.
1. Campaign Yard Signs
Yard signs increase candidate name recognition particularly in state and local races where the candidate’s name recognition is low. Depending upon a number of factors, some candidates shouldn’t order any signs at all, while other should order plenty.
If your volunteers are demanding them, I recommend getting a few to keep them happy too!
Don’t buy billboards. While billboards increase candidate name recognition like signs, they are more expensive and you are often paying to present your message to voters who aren’t in your district. Billboards that are along major routes are going to mean a lot of traffic outside of your district. Of course, you’re still paying for those eyeballs since they are valuable to businesses that don’t have hard and fast boundaries.
3. Letters to the Editor
Your supporters want to tell others about your campaign. While some will take it upon themselves to write a letter to the editor, have a strategy to encourage supporters to write to the newspaper, and increasingly comment on blogs or post on social media, explaining why they support the campaign. If there is something specific that you would like included in the letter to the editor, give the supporter a template to work from, but be sure that they change it dramatically to make it their own.
4. Earned Media
The other way is to get into the newspaper, or on the radio, or TV, or an important blog! A lot goes into getting your campaign featured in news outlets, but the most traditional methods are using press releases, advisories, and keeping in contact with your local political reporters and editors.
In addition to getting information about your campaign onto other peoples’ blogs, having your own blog is very common. I recommend writing a blog with your supporters in mind. You can use the pages on your website for undecided voters, such as your stances on certain issues and your biographical information, but people who are reading your blog consistently have likely already decided who they will be voting for.
6. TV and Radio
If your campaign is looking for a powerful persuasion tool television and radio are powerful tools. Depending upon the demographic that your targeting, you might also be pleasantly surprised at the cost to run ad campaigns on TV or radio. Just be careful that you aren’t spending a lot of money communicating with the right demographic but in the wrong district!
For most candidates, the bulk of your campaign budget should focus on direct voter contact. There are plenty of exceptions to the rule, so I hesitate to even mention it. Judge races, if you have them, and other low profile races like local and statewide row offices are mostly media driven campaigns fought on the airwaves not on the streets. If a winning campaign is a grassroots campaign, however, you will want to focus your efforts on direct voter contact and supplement with these indirect strategies.
Image via sarae
About the Author Ben Donahower is a national authority on get out the vote and campaign signs. Ben is a seasoned campaign operative in the battleground state of Pennsylvania where he has worked on campaigns professionally since 2004. His strengths include providing strategic vision for candidates, campaign analytics, and voter psychology. Read more from this author