Saturday, August 30, 2014

Campaigns with a technical twist

Some local offices attract people with an expertise in the field, water board, sewer board, fire board, for instances. And conversely, voters are attracted to those candidates who sound like they have the needed expertise to do the job.

Perception is everything when it comes to the down ticket race for a position that involves managing a recourse or public safety. Especially for the low-information voter. I've seen many races won and lost because the person with "water engineer," "environmental scientist," or "former firefighter" as their ballot designation. even though they had never held public office, had no managerial experience nor a history of interacting with the District they are running for.

This is true even against a better funded candidate with more voter contacts and a professionally run campaign who has studied the issues facing the District for years. Even former elected officials have a hard time moving from Town Council or School Board to Water District or Sanitary District.

So if you seek a technical sounding position, think of the voter who will do no more than read the ballot designation, and see if you can come up with one that sounds impressive and conveys actual expertise in the field.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

To slate or not to slate?

At this time each election season, a plethora of slate cards appear in all our in-boxes. Buy me! they shout. The candidates all get the pitches directly too. Shouldn't I be on this one? they ask, anxiously.

The answer of course is it all depends. Here is a list of just a few slate mailers I've been pitched in the past and recently.

COPS  just what it sounds like, law enforcement leaning slate mailer, but caveat, NOT sanctioned by the police unions.

California Voter Guide     Target – Republicans 

Budget Watchdogs        No pure Dem HH's. Translation: these are the anti-pension people

Election Digest             Target – Democrat and Decline To State

Senior                          Seniors

there are also cards aimed at ethnic voting blocks, Latino, Chinese and sometimes environmental cards.

The Local Democratic Party and clubs often do their own mailers. These are paid for by the Party or the Club and will put on their endorsed candidates. If you have to buy it, it's NOT an official Party mailing.

The problem with all of these is you don't necessarily know the company you will be keeping. That is, what other candidates and which ballot measures will also appear on the mailer? 

Some mix up Dems and Republicans as the example below. Some say they are a Democratic mailer, but put ballot measures on that the Democratic Party opposes. So it's a crap shoot.

Campaign Slut rule of thumb - Save your money for your own mailing and media. Only buy space on a slate mailer if there is plenty in the bank and you trust the vendor of the slate. And do work those endorsements from legitimate groups who do their own slates.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Marin Women's PAC Training video

Here is a video of the training we did the last week, with some other consultants, union and newspaper folks and Young Democrats.

Watch the video here in which I attempt to give out some fundraising advice. And more of course.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What about a website?

What about it? Do you have your website up for your 2014 campaign? There are services like Nationbuilder and even do-it-youself web kits, but whatever you use, make sure you work with a design consultant who knows campaigns and can integrate the look and feel of yours on your website. You don't want a site that looks off the shelf when it's easy to get a custom look with good graphics, your brand (or logo) and readable, informative content.
This candidate put his ballot statement on a webpage
Then all your materials should have your web address prominently listed for people to refer to to get more information on your campaign.

Make sure the fonts are large, the colors bright, but not hallucinogenic, and the whole thing scalable for easy viewing on a phone or tablet.

Link to the site from your Facebook page. (You do have a Facebook page don't you?) and when those web ads go up (more about them later), have them link back to the site when people click on them.

And make sure you have your name on every page. If you're in a field with many candidates for the same office, people won't start confusing your positions with those of the opponents when they're scrolling through sites.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Texas Governor Rick Perry has campaign photo taken by County Sheriff

In a surprise move, Texas Governor, and Presidential hopeful, Rick Perry turned himself in to the Travis County Sheriff's department on Tuesday, because "I just can't get a good campaign photo taken."
He then posed in suit and power tie, smiling and confident against a plain blue backdrop normally used to photograph hardened criminals after arrest.

"I chose this venue because I know these guys are pros," said Perry. Heck, they take pictures all day. I knew they woulkd capture my essence perfectly."

It was of only minor irritation to the Governor that he had to resort to getting himself indicted in order to avail himself of the services of the County Jail employees. In a clever move, he threatened to veto funding for pesky Travis County District Attorney, Rosemary Lemberg, who had been thorn in his side for years. In fact, just last year he cut off much of the funding for the Public Integrity Unit, which is charged with investigating all sorts of fraud and abuse of the public trust. Perry's old buddy, former House Majority leader Tom DeLay, was the subject of a corruption investigation in 2005, forcing him to resign his position.

"We finally got that lady dead to rights, drunker'n a skunk that fell into a vat of anti-freeze," said the Governor. Then he followed through with his veto pen to "veto funding for the Travis County-based Public Integrity Unit." 

Perry's indictment was for abuse of power, a charge he vehemently denies. "If anyone misused their power, it was that alkie DA. and her poking around into government affairs."

Perry neglected to mention that two other DA's had similar drunk diving offenses had been let off the hook, while Lemberg was de-funded.

“The key difference was that one of the DAs was investigating his administration for corruption and the other two DAs weren’t,” said Democratic strategist Jason Stanford,according to the Dallas News.

"I never expected all this brou ha ha," said an exasperated Perry. "I only wanted a good picture." At that, he waved from the door of his private jet as he went off on a campaign jaunt amid cheering fans.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dialing for volunteers

After last night's candidate training given by Marin Women's PAC, I have some more advice to offer the overworked candidate. You need to make even more phone calls! One of the presenters is a local expert in doing field work, or the art of grassroots campaigning. He recommends that the candidate herself take time each week to call volunteers to get them out to walk precincts and come to phone banks.

The best person, says Steve Burdo, of Kathleen Russell Consulting, to roust out the volunteers, is the candidate.
Steve Burdo explaining how to reach out and touch the voters
So while you're dialing for dollars, also take some time to dial for volunteers. Some of these calls will overlap. The potential donor who may not be able to give money may well be able to give some time. So do call and do ask.

The audience listening to panel
Yours truly with the ever handy written materials
Having those bodies on the street and on the phone will help you get your message out to the voters and can make the difference come election day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Swag - Do you need it? Like a hole in the head

Swag - you need it like a hole in the head

Every campaign goes through an internal debate - to buy "swag" or not. What is "swag?" It's the collateral stuff most people associate with political campaigns, buttons, bumper stickers, cute items with the candidate's name on them, like tee shirts, aprons, mugs, even pencils.

Someone in every campaign will insist you must have some. You need to have this material so the voters see your name everywhere and then surely you will be the one they vote for on election day.

Because you gave them a  tee shirt. Yeah. Ok, swag is fun. Bumper stickers are cool when you see them on a car in a parking lot or driving ahead of you. But they are neither necessary nor particularly useful.

Your name will be remembered by voters who get your mail in their mailboxes (and more than one time), see your ads on their favorite cable TV shows and talk to a live person at their door. They will remember more than your name, but what you stand for, and that you took the time to explain it to them.

Swag, including signs, are only reinforcers. Too many campaigns start off with swag, and then go, "whoops, how come there's no money left for that last mailer or handout, or web ad."

"Oh yeah, the tee shirts."

If you really really must have it

If you really must have swag, keep it simple and cheap. Buy rolls of stickers from your local union print shop, not expensive buttons. Make sure they are used too. You can get 1000 for about $175. Make sure your volunteer coordinator has enough to slap on every volunteer on every walk.  Have them at every event and get people to wear them; give the extras to wear on thier daily rounds.

The candidate can have a special button or pin made for him/herself that announces "I'm running!"

House signs must be placed strategically on lawns where they will be easily seen.  People will know that someone in their neighborhood supports you. Don't get into "sign wars" with your opposition. It's just what they'd like to see - you spending all your time and money on more signs rather than more mail. Buy your signs from a union vendor who specializes in campaign swag (avert your eyes from all the other stuff on display). I use Mycampaignstore.com in Indiana. They're inexpensive, fast and include the wires for putting up signs in yards.

The take-away

Use swag, including signs, only after you budget for the important stuff, mail, TV and radio (in larger races), web ads, handouts and staff.  Swag is fun, everyone likes it, but as the old adage goes "Yard signs can't vote." The same goes for buttons, bumper stickers and tee shirts.