For all the money and fame of US Senate races, most American elections are very small local affairs with budgets less than the cost of a car. What do you focus on in the torrent of campaign tactics to win? During this virtual session, experts provided advice for how best to sort through polling, mail, digital, cable, radio and yard sign spending decisions when working on local races for council, school board, county offices and smaller state legislative races.
Domonique James’ Lessons:
- It is important to be consistent in terms of digital. Build and follow a digital communications calendar.
- Voters that are confused will end up doing nothing. You want to make sure to always have a call to action in your messaging.
- Depending on the size of your campaign, you might want to focus on one social media platform.
- Email addresses are gold. Set up a website and opt-in form for alerts and emails.
- An easy way to be consistent is to automate as much as possible. Systems are a key to your success.
- Make sure you establish a budget and priorities before beginning your campaign. You cannot manage what you don’t measure.
About Domonique: Domonique James is the Founder and CEO of Politics with Purpose, a digital media, training, and consulting firm. She is a political professional with over ten years of experience in strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, and political and public affairs advertising.
Moises Merino’s Lessons:
- You need volunteers to help with your ground game for low budget campaigns. With volunteers you need to treat them with respect and embrace them as contributors. You need to think about what they’re getting in return.
- Always give your volunteers a task. They need to know their time and energy is being put to good use. Give them a seat at the table.
- It’s important to have a tracking system. Investing in or creating a database will improve efficiency.
- It is very important to target your audience; it is especially important in direct mail.
- You’ll be able to cut costs by focusing on segments of voters that you are likely to turnout.
About Moises: Moises Merino is a Partner at Merino, Barajas & Allen, a public affairs and political consulting firm. He has over 15 years of political and public policy experience at the local, state and national levels. In 2015, he was named one of the “40 Under 40” best and brightest in the industry by the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC). Moises has also been recognized for his accomplishments and featured by Latino Leaders Magazine. He has appeared on major television networks such as CNN, Univision, Telemundo, and TV Azteca.
Jacqueline Hixson’s Lessons:
- You need to do some research on both yourself and your opponent before deciding the messaging for your campaign. This will allow you the opportunity to control the conversation.
- You’ll need to emotionally connect with voters. Prove that your candidate will lift them up and make their lives better.
- Democrats are viewed as the party of caring while Republicans are viewed as the party of strength; ultimately you need to have your voters trust you and your campaign.
- It is very important to create a contrast and prove why you are the better choice for the job. This is done through effective messaging.
- Earned media is the easiest way to spread your message for free. Spend time writing about campaign events, and engage in social media (Facebook and twitter). Direct mail is the most worthwhile paid media for low budget campaigns.
About Jacqueline: Jacqueline has worked on state legislative and congressional campaigns in Virginia and is the former Communications Director for the Virginia Democratic Party. In 2017, Jacqueline managed the largest re-election campaign for the Virginia state legislature — winning by more than 7,000 votes in a race which had only been won by 352 votes in 2015. Jacqueline’s experience in fundraising, communications, and campaign management fits perfectly with the CLCS goal of giving candidates the power the win.
Dan Hazelwood’s Biggest Lesson:
- Resist the temptation to do a little bit of everything. Focus your campaign and your resources. Quality vs. quantity is extremely important when you have a low budget race.
About Dan: In 1992, Dan Hazelwood formed Targeted Creative Communications, Inc. (TC2) a Republican direct marketing company based in Alexandria, Virginia. TC2 has worked for campaigns in virtually every state. His past clients include Bush-Cheney ’00 and ’04, Dole-Kemp ’96, several US Senators and Governors, and over five dozen members of the House of Representatives among them former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
A huge thank you to our speakers for sharing their expertise with the AAPC membership!