Friday, October 25, 2013

Campaign Tip of the Day/Guest Post - Yard signs revisited

This post is from Ben Donahower with a slightly different spin on the yard sign issue. Ben has a yard sign service and this post is from Down Ticket Dems:

3 Political Lawn Sign Philosophies that Work by Ben Donahower

If there is one part of political campaigns that you hear differing opinions on, it’s campaign lawn signs. You can’t get around the debate where one person proclaims “yard signs’ don’t vote” and another is demanding yard signs in triplicate for every home.

How should your campaign handle signs? Well, it’s important to put campaign signs in context with the rest of the campaign. Determine where your campaign is going to excel and where you are going to take shortcuts. Your campaign might be focused on direct mail and radio while another campaign is heavy on canvassing and phone banks. Likewise, figure out where yard signs will fit into this mix. There are a number of methods that work.

Political Lawn Signs for Polling Places and Requests

The minimalist order means ordering enough signs for polling places and for people who request them directly. Determining how many signs to order is more art than science except for the number of polling places. I’d consider ordering somewhere between ten and twenty five signs per precinct depending upon the candidate.

Campaigns that have a strong field and direct mail campaign can successfully use this sign strategy.

Polling Places, Requests, and Strategic Locations

This builds upon the last strategy adding strategic locations. Strategic locations are more often than not on private property. They include people who just have a great location at a busy intersection and also community and political leaders whose public display of support will carry weight with other voters in the area.

Political Signs for Supporters

This is a big jump from the previous strategy, but this can be incredibly effective. This is best for local campaigns. Here is a case study. I’m using fake names. Bob Smith was part of the minority party running for a local office. He was known in the community but still opted for a strong use of yard signs. Essentially, if they were a supporter he pushed hard for them to put a sign in their yard.
Other than yard signs his only expense in the campaign was photocopying a homemade literature piece that he took door to door accruing more supporters and putting signs on their lawn. He reached a tipping point where there were so many signs in the community that people knew who he was when he reached the door.

Despite being outnumbered by more than 4:1 by the majority party he won his election to local office.

Plan a Yard Sign Strategy

The moral of the story is to plan a strategy. Don’t haphazardly order a handful only to decide later on that you should have ordered thousands or vice versa. When you are planning out your TV, radio, direct mail, and direct voter contact incorporate yard signs into the planning process and choose a strategy that’s going to work best for your campaign.

Ben Donahower is the founder of Campaign Trail Yard Signs, which cuts through the campaign yard sign confusion. What do lawn signs do well? When are they more trouble than they are worth? Just honest answers, so that you order useful political yard signs in the quantity your campaign needs. Ben is an authority on marketing for political organizations and has worked on campaigns from borough council to President
Follow Ben on Twitter  @iapprovethismsg

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Campaign Tip of the Day: No Surprises for the Spouse

Dude, don't let your spouse (or significant other for that matter) find out that you have big plans to run for office on Facebook, or by an email announcement of your fundraiser. Yes, this happens and here's an example from the local news.

Hot off the Press, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Big whoops for this candidate.

What happened was a wanna be Assessor-Recorder-Clerk sent out an email announcement about his candidacy and a big fundraiser he was having. His wife was one of the recipients and went ballistic. She took it to Facebook, his Facebook page, complaining that she wasn't even told about the run. And that this was not cool.
                                                        Picture shown here is a re-creation of the event.

Now he has suspended his campaign while he tries to make things right on the home front. If he just told her up front, discussed the pros and cons, she'd probably have been totally supportive.

She says she supports his run and just wanted to be consulted. Did she over-react? Maybe, but not conferring with the family is a major no no, you can bet the public, and his opponent, won't forget this episode anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tip of the Day - The Robot on your Phone

Yes, we all hate them. We hang up on them. They always call during dinner. They are annoying. And yet, guess what, they work. If done correctly.
If you are in a down ticket race, and don't have enough money for that second mailer, don't have the volunteers to blanket the District with precinct walking, there aren't enough hours in the day for personal phone calls, and your race is looking close, the robo call may be for you.

If you find yourself in need of a last minute low cost option for getting your message to voters, here are some tips to do it right.

1. Keep it short. No more than 30 seconds. People will not listen beyond that point and after the first 30, you pay by the second.

2. Unless you have a well known and well respected celebrity supporting you, make the call in your own voice.

3. Introduce yourself, your office and one or two key issues. Repeat your name and your web site. Give them a personal phone number where they can call you themselves, even if it's just to vent.

4. You might start by apologizing for doing waht everyone hates, but you have important information to impart.

5. Don't call during a major football game or the prime dinner hour. Don't call too late or too early.

6. I try to time calls for when the fewest people are likley to actually be home. Yes, that's right. I aim for answering machines. That's why its' so important to get the key information out in the first few seconds. Most hangups will occur early. If they lsiten all the way through that's a bonus.

7. Don't use this method unless you fall into most, if not all, of the categories listed in the introduction.

There are many companies that do these calls. Use a reputable one, who will respect your instructions for how and when to deliver the call, let you edit your message as many times as you like, make the call from a local area code, to maximize people's answering it. And above all, keep your voice confident and calm.

Caveat: In many states, you are supposed to have a live person introduce the calls, which kind of defeats the purpose of keeping it inexpensive. Know the laws in your state and what the local custom is. Many of the rules are honored more in their breach than their observance. And no, putting your name on the Do Not Call registry does not apply to political calls.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tip of the Day: Short and sweet

Doing some phonebanking to identify your voters?  Make sure you keep the script short and sweet.  Give the basics, ask for support and offer more information if the voter needs it. 

Don't argue with them. If they say yes, mark your call sheet. They haven't made up their mind (or have no idea that there is even an election coming up), offer to send them information in the mail. Then do it. Of course, always give them your website to go to themselves. If they say a decisive no, thank them and move on.

Make sure you have a good targeted list and practice your calls. The responses you get here and at the door will become the basis of your GOTV effort.  Don't waste calls by being wishy washy or failing to distinguish yourself from the opponent.

If you get voice mail, have a separate script for that, a shorter one, that gets out your name, what you're running for, one or two main points and your website.

Many people set up websites where  volunteers can download numbers and scripts to call from home.  While that's fine, it's always a good rallying opportunity to get a bunch of volunteers together in one room with a number of lines or cell phones. Have some snacks and drinks. Make sure you make calls yourself; don't just rely on volunteers. It will inspire them to hear you getting votes. And the voters is always happy to get a personal call from the actual candidate.

Next time: the dreaded  robo call.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Campaign tip of the day: The Great Sign Debate

You probably all have seen the famous message sent out by the Obama campaign when volunteers were clamoring for lawn signs:

There are any number of articles on the web explaining why you're wasting your money on signs. See  Political Signs Don't Work  and Why Political Yard Signs Are Useless for example.

What yard signs are good for is reinforcement. Once you've budgeted for your mail, your precinct walking handouts, your phone banking, your TV if it makes sense in your District, then go ahead and set something aside for yard signs. If people don't get your message, no amount of yard signage will persuade them to vote for you.

If you do use signs, use them carefully. Make sure your name is prominent in bold colors (preferably the colors of your campaign materials); don't clutter up the sign with lots of information or pictures.  And make sure people get your message in several different ways, mail, TV, phone calls, at the door. Don't expect your signs to be your message. They will just act as a reminder to the voter of who they want to vote for. 

Try to find supporters on well traveled roads to take the signs, don't just put them up willy nilly on freeway exits, or they may well be removed and you may well be fined. Know the rules in your community.  Some places are more relaxed about casual sign placement than others.

Right around election day, have volunteers take a few signs out to prominent street corners and wave them at passing cars as one last reminder. 

And remember, never, never, take down an opponent's signs.

If used wisely, your signs can be a good name reinforcer for your voters. If used instead of a well run campaign with a carefully crafted, and delivered, message, they aren't worth the paper (or plastic) they are printed on.
Political Yard Signs Don’t Vote
Political Yard Signs Don’t Vote
Political Yard Signs Don’t Vote