Tips from the Trail

Painless Parade Planning

Why are Parades Important?

  • You have the ability to personally meet and get your name in front of THOUSANDS OF VOTERS
  • You have the opportunity to show energy, excitement and support
  • By working hard at the parade, you can prove to voters you will work hard if elected

Pre-Parade Planning (2+ Weeks Out)

  • Get signed up! Earlier the Better
  • Recruit Volunteers – More is Better!
  • Order Lapel Stickers
  • Order T-­Shirts
  • Order Signs
  • Secure Vehicle to Use
  • Book Photographer
  • Sound System

Pre-Parade Planning (1 Week Out)

  • Doorknock town week before the parade
  • Secure lawn sign locations on main street
  • Recruit volunteers – more is better!
  • Print Parade Program
  • Determine Volunteer Meeting Spot (at end of parade)
  • Shuttle System to Get People to Parade Unit
  • Got Flags?
  • Purchase Candy
  • Purchase Water/Soda for Volunteers
  • Volunteer Reminder Calls (parade line up number if known)

Pre-Parade Planning (Day Before)

  • Wash Parade Vehicle
  • Load vehicle(s) with all supplies (don’t forget umbrellas!)
  • Communicate parade line up number to volunteers

SHOW TIME! – Day of Parade

  • Signs go up early – 3 plus hours before parade
  • Arrive at designated meeting spot a minimum of 90 minutes before parade starts
  • Candidate greets volunteers as they arrive
  • Move parade vehicle(s) and signs, candy, water/soda to line up number and volunteers begin to decorate
  • Distribute t-shirts to volunteers as they arrive and begin to shuttle them to line up area
  • Last shuttle leaves 30-45 minutes before parade starts and brings remaining volunteers and supplies. Drop them off and return to meeting spot at end of parade route
  • 60 minutes before parade starts, candidate, photographer and volunteers walk the parade
  • Volunteers sticker both sides of street
  • Candidate casually works crowd – until parade starts – shaking hands with people on both sides of street – this is prime time for photographs!
  • Candidate joins unit and works parade again from beginning until end
  • One volunteer is the “barker” who announces the candidate along parade route
  • Other volunteers wave signs, pass out lapel stickers and candy, hoot, holler and make noise
  • It’s a parade, not a funeral procession – have fun!

End of Parade

  • THANK THE CANDIDATE (who should be physically and emotionally exhausted if they’ve worked hard)
  • THANK THE VOLUNTEERS
  • Collect t-shirts from volunteers to be used at next parade (better yet, volunteers walk around at the town celebration all day wearing your t-shirt!)
  • Disassemble parade unit(s)

 Parade DO’S & DONT’S

  • Candidate ALWAYS walks the parade route
  • Hustle back and forth from one side of the street to the other mee?ng voters – show them you will work hard!
  • Don’t fall behind and get separated from your unit!
  • Be organized!
  • There are hundreds or thousands of voters waiting to meet you – avoid the classic parade mistake of standing around and talking to volunteers or other candidates before the parade starts – USE THIS TIME TO MEET VOTERS
  • You should not join your unit until the parade starts

Parade Photo MUST-HAVES

  • Large group of supporters holding signs (near unit)
  • Small groups of supporters holding signs
  • Candidate shaking hands with people along parade route (take many of these)
  • Candidate with military honor guard (1st in line)
  • Candidate with police/fire/EMT/ (2nd in line)
Powerful Direct Mail – It Starts with Good Photos

Powerful Direct Mail – It Starts with Good Photos

If you’re like any smart candidate, you want to make an impact with voters in your district. That’s why you spend hours, days, weeks and months knocking on doors and meeting voters face to face. The “political science” behind doorknocking (proven by fact) is that if voters get to see and know you, they’ll be more inclined to vote for you, even if they don’t share your party preference or views on all the issues.

No candidate begins their day of doorknocking without getting ready. In addition to having your walk lists, literature and water this means dressing to fit your district, being properly groomed, in other words, looking the part.

That’s the same approach you should take with direct mail. You need to “look” the part and that comes with good photos. The old adage, “a picture speaks a thousand words” is absolutely true, especially in political direct mail. Any direct mail firm can take your head shot and surround it with boatloads of heavy copy and call it a day. And that’s what most campaigns do. Sure, you get a piece of mail in the hands of the voters, but it doesn’t’ really tell a story, speak to voters or show the real you.

“But I’ve got a volunteer with an expensive digital camera and she’s taken a ton of photos,” you say. O.K. Let’s sit down and go through the photos to see if the photos are close enough, have high enough resolution to use in direct mail applications, show at least two-thirds of your face and really communicate who you are. (My favorite are the parade shots where the volunteer photographer is 50 feet ahead of you and takes tons of shots where all we can see way off in the distance is the side of your face, completely void of any emotion or expression.)

Getting good photos isn’t easy. It takes time and money. But if you want direct mail that wins hearts, minds and votes, you need good photography. Yes, good photography costs money, (expect to pay $400-$600 for a 3 hour photo shoot) but it’s money well spent. Good photography turns boring into compelling, dull into eye-catching, and “throw it away” into “take another look.”

If you want more information on photography, direct mail or are looking for other ideas that influence, contact P2B Strategies today.

Here’s another article by Politics Magazine highlighting the importance of photography in political mail:

Don’t Skimp On the Visual – It Seals the Deal

Photography can be the key to a successful direct mail campaign
by Liz Chadderdon

When it comes to direct mail, you get approximately five seconds of a voter’s time between the mailbox and the trash can so you need to make those five seconds as eye catching and powerful as possible. In a misguided attempt to save resources, many campaigns skimp on one of the most crucial aspects of direct mail—photography. It’s akin to building your dream house on a dirt foundation. All of the work you put into your mail program—the research, writing and strategy—won’t be as effective if the piece is dragged down by low resolution, amateurish, overtly political photos taken by a well-meaning volunteer.

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially in political mail. A compelling and unusual photo can leap out of the rest of the clutter in the mailbox and get you those precious seconds of voter attention. A few tips on getting the right image to make your point:

  1. Hire a professional photographer, not your neighbor who has a new digital camera (unless he or she is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer in which case I hope they have better equipment). Spend the money on a real shoot with a real photographer. Your mail will cost thousands of dollars, and its success depends on the art so just do it.
  2. Remember that campaigns are not about candidates, they’re about voters. So don’t put the candidate on the front of a mail piece unless it’s a unique or unusual photo (see point 4). The front of a mail piece needs to be something the voter can relate to and a political candidate isn’t relatable for them. But photos of regular folks doing regular things, such as playing in the yard or at a park with parents looking on, make sense to voters.
  3. Candid photos are always better than posed photos. Posed photos look posed—i.e. stiff, unnatural and, most importantly, not relatable. Some posed shots are fine but the majority of shots should look as if they are capturing a moment in the candidate’s life or the voter’s life. Please, do not allow the candidate’s family to wear matching outfits for the family shot. How in the world is that normal?
  4. Get out the old photo albums and find fun childhood photos. I’m a fan of old photos such as a candidate as a kid dressed in a cowboy outfit, riding a stick horse. What better way to convey a message of “fighting crime” or “from an early age (candidate) was committed to protecting our community.” It’s funny, interesting, unique and, again, relatable. It makes the candidate seem more human. Humanizing the candidate is key. Unfortunately, most voters don’t think candidates are normal people. The images a candidate uses in their communication need to make a candidate look as “normal” as possible.

A good case study is Joel Burns who ran for the city council in Fort Worth, Texas. Joel is openly gay in a city that had never elected an openly gay candidate. His campaign communication needed an even greater emphasis on showing him as relatable with the same values, concerns and needs as his neighbors and community. Our first piece had a photo of Joel at the age of 12 with his mother and father and younger sister. Not only is it a typical 1970’s family photo, the same kind we all endured, but Joel’s Dad, Butch, is wearing a cowboy hat. As a native Texan, I can tell you nothing says “normal” in Texas like a man named Butch in a cowboy hat. And by using that photo, we portrayed Joel as someone “just like the rest of us” instead of a typical politician or the “gay” candidate who is not to be trusted.

A good example of a photo doing “your dirty work” for you is the piece “black eye” produced for the Re-elect Delegate Chuck Caputo (Va.) campaign. This piece focused on domestic violence.

It needed an image that was powerful and relatable without being too extreme. It would have been easy to pick a harsher photo to really drive the point home, but then you run the risk of turning voters off, especially women. We needed a photo that was genuine. We are proud to have won the 2009 Reed Award for Toughest Direct Mail Piece with the image we chose.

The lesson here is don’t skimp on the art. Often times, a piece of direct mail may be the only time a candidate “enters” someone’s home. So it needs to show a candidate as someone they may want to invite in. This begins and ends with well-planned, creative photography.

Liz Chadderdon is the president of The Chadderdon Group, a Democratic direct mail firm based in Virginia.

Parade Photos: Frame Your Face

When it comes to taking photos of a candidate at parades, the photographer must be part of the crowd. What does this mean?

A good campaign photo including parades should show at least two-thirds of the candidate’s face.  If the photographer is in the street with the candidate, then this is difficult to accomplish and usually results in the  “back of the head” photo.  The photographer should situate themselves behind the crowd. This requires your photographer to weave through the crowd to get the right perspective for a photo.  This also eliminates any potential problems with the people in the photo the candidate is greeting.  Some people may not want their face in a campaign photo.

Here are a couple sample parade photos your photographer should try to replicate:

P2B Strategies’ partner Magic Light Images is experienced with taking professional campaign photos especially parades.  Please contact us for more information.

Whether you use our photography services or a local volunteer, your photographer must be part of the crowd.  And don’t forget, it takes tens if not hundreds of photos to get a few quality parade photos.

Why NOT to use your district number

When developing your campaign materials that may be reused across election cycles, do not use your district number.  Redistricting will take place after the 2010 election and your district number will change for the 2012 election cycle.  Thus, if you put your district on your signs you would either have to get stickers to cover up the old district number or purchase all new signs.  That can get costly.  Same goes for your domain name, if your website is johnsmithfor44b.com that would not apply in 2012.  This is more easily fixed but why needlessly confuse visitors to your website in the first place.  Besides, most voters don’t even know their district number so save yourself the headache in the future by planning ahead now.

Photos

Great photos that catch voters’ attention and entice them to want to learn more are a critical component of direct mail and campaign literature creation.  This podcast discusses the shots that all candidates for office must have at the ready.