November is election season in the United States, and therefore a busy time for political strategists, marketers, and volunteers. In today’s modern, digitally-driven, and highly politically aware environment, what should an election candidate’s team do to distinguish the former from the rest of the pack and cultivate a good reputation for them? If you’re on a candidate’s team, those may be among your most pressing worries.
Elections may feel like a tricky game in the face of a quickly evolving political climate, but certain promotional techniques will still prove effective. At their core, they include:
• Cultivating greater awareness of the candidate’s identity and platform
• Increasing efforts to brand the candidate as a likable and relatable person as well as a competent community leader
• Building knowledge on the candidate’s cause
• Sustaining meaningful engagement with the electorate before, during, and after the elections
Even if you use this formula for your promotions, there’s still plenty of room for you to be innovative and to help your candidate resonate with the voting public in unique ways. Here are some tips that you can adapt for your campaign.
Conceptualize a Relatable Story for Your Candidate’s Promotional Materials
One thing that past elections have proven to political campaigners is that it’s not enough to promote the candidate’s credentials. Winning a vote isn’t like applying for a job—you can’t convince the public to vote someone into public office with only their resume. Though it will be necessary for you to highlight your candidate’s achievements, make sure there’s more to their campaign than a laundry list of things they’ve done.
Anchor the campaign itself on a story that a wide voting public can relate to. Stories stick and paint a concrete picture of someone who’s a leader, an advocate, and a fellow community member all at the same time. If you can leverage your candidate’s story, you will have a powerful means of convincing the public to vote for them.
Find Ways to Extend Your Candidate’s Presence in Everyday Situations
Next, think of ways to extend your candidate’s presence and create buzz around them. As of late, promotional items have been very effective at getting candidates’ supporters to campaign to their wider communities. Make these available to supporters so that they can supplement the official team’s efforts to promote the candidate.
For example, to make the candidate’s name a staple of conversation at family gatherings or parties, you can release custom shot glasses with their name and image—thus enabling guests to raise a toast to them. You can also hand out items like pins, badges, or bumper stickers so that people can demonstrate their support in their day-to-day life.
Create a Visual Identity for Your Candidate
Your candidate should make themselves known to the electorate not only through their words, but through their image. That’s why it’s a good idea to craft a distinct visual brand for them—it can create a short, but lasting impression about who they are and what they stand for. Invest in the expertise of visual artists and graphic designers and let them guide you in decisions related to your candidate’s visual identity. These include their official logo, their campaign colors, and their appearance when they’re portrayed in posters, videos, or flyers.
Develop a Strong Web Presence for Your Candidate
Traditional advertising media like TV, the radio, and broadsheets used to be the dominant modes for political campaigning. But it’s now the age of the web and social media, and much of the voting public will garner their strongest impressions of your candidate from the things they see online. Knowing that, make a conscious effort to develop your candidate’s online presence. Use channels like online mainstream news sites and their official website to release in-depth content about their platform, and leverage social media to keep their names at the top of people’s feeds.
Find Willing Ambassadors for Your Candidate’s Cause
Many voters are likely to base their decisions on the endorsement of people they admire or trust. Endorsements from community leaders or influencers are worth their weight in gold, so see which ones you can secure for your candidate before election day. Make sure that your candidate’s values align with those of their ambassadors, and see that they have a good reach among your intended voter base. When these are guaranteed, you’ll have a powerful means to consolidate support for your candidate.
Engage Your Candidate’s Audience
Lastly, find ways to connect directly with your candidate’s audience and engage them through channels like forums, town halls, or online Q&As. Your candidate may look great on paper, but this will be for naught if the voting public doesn’t see them as accessible or responsive to their concerns. Bridge the gap between your candidate and their would-be voters, and by doing so, the latter will see the former as someone worth electing into public office.
On top of promoting your candidate, set aside time to gauge how well the campaign is going. Determine specific metrics for voter awareness and conversions. If you know the numbers behind people’s awareness of your candidate and how many people will be voting for them, you can adjust your strategy to be more aggressive or to better target a certain sector of their audience. In addition, remember to stay compliant of any local laws that govern ad spending and other campaign-related matters.
The best way to achieve the outcome that you and your team want is to do more for your candidate than promoting them just for the sake of. Let your campaign open the door for genuine and long-term reform to happen within your candidate’s community, and use it as a means to strengthen relationships between would-be public officials and the people that they swear to serve.