Every campaign, no matter how big or small, needs at least one simple piece of literature that conveys the basic message of the campaign and tells the voters who the candidate is. This essential piece of literature is often called a “walk piece,” because it is the brochure that the candidate hands out as he or she goes door to door.
Calling this literature a walk piece is misleading, however, because this brochure is indispensable in many situations, not just when going door to door. This handout can be used as a piece of direct mail, given out at fundraisers and events, included with fundraising mailings and press kits, and much more. Designing a concise and effective walk piece will go a long way toward presenting your campaign as a professional, well-run organization.
Defining Your Goal
The goal of your walk piece is simple: you want anyone who reads it to remember your candidate and fell good about voting for him or her. In order to accomplish this, your literature needs to do three things.
First, you want tell the reader about the candidate. Include a short bio and pictures that present your candidate in a positive light. Tell the voters about the candidate’s family, where he or she went to school and works, and what parts of the candidate’s background makes him or her a good fit for the office they are seeking.
Secondly, you need to let the reader know what the message of your campaign is. Include a few paragraphs that tell the voter why they should vote for you. This is your campaign’s message, which should be well thought out and presented in everything your campaign does, from phone banks to literature to speeches. Back up your message with 2-4 short issue statements that tell the reader what issues are important to your campaign, in light of your message.
Lastly, you should provide a way for the voter to get more information about your campaign or to get in touch with you. Many readers will glance over your walk piece and then throw it out. Some, however, will want more info, would like to speak to the campaign, or would like to volunteer to help you win. Make sure you provide a way for the voter to get in touch with you! One great way to allow voters to get more information or to contact the campaign is to print your campaign’s web address on your literature. Another possibility is including a reply card for the reader to request more information or volunteer to help you.
The Elements of Design
There are an infinite number of ways you can design your walk piece, from a text-rich post card to a sparse, picture-filled brochure. No matter what design you choose, however, keep these guidelines in mind:
1. Design for “scanners” and “studiers”
Many of the voters who receive your card will simply scan your walk piece before throwing it out. These “scanners” may simply look at the front on the way to the trashcan, or may open your piece and briefly read through it. Prepare for both scenarios.
Make sure that the front of your walk literature includes the candidate’s name in large type, a picture of the candidate and the campaign slogan – that’s it. This way, if a voter simply looks at your piece before throwing it out, they will still see the candidate’s name, picture, and message. For those who scan the inside before discarding your literature, include big, bold headlines, picture captions, and underlined, bolded, or otherwise highlighted words where appropriate.
Some voters, however, will study your piece in-depth. Include plenty of information for these “studiers” by providing additional information below your headlines and throughout your bio and issues paragraphs.
2. Include lots of white space
No matter what design you choose, be sure to include lots of “white space” in your piece. The term “white space” refers to areas of your literature where there is nothing printed, whether the paper is white or some other color. Including white space where there is no text or pictures makes the walk piece easier to read.
Add white space to your brochure by including extra space between the headlines and the paragraphs, in between paragraphs, and around pictures.
Remember, the key to designing your walk piece is to keep it simple. This handy piece of literature can be used in a variety of situations, so keep it easy to read, pleasing to the eye, and be sure to have it professionally printed. With a little creativity and hard work, your walk piece will be a great ambassador for your campaign.
3. It Has to Look Professional, But it Doesn’t Need to Be Expensive
Your walk piece doesn’t need to be expensive, but it should look professional, with good quality 4-color printing, nice pictures, and proofread text.