Most of the money a political campaign spends is spent on communicating a message to the voters.  TV ads are the most expensive way to communicate with the electorate, followed by radio ads and direct mail.   In many campaigns, all three of these methods are valid, and if you’ve been reading this site for awhile, you’ll know I am a big proponent of direct mail for most campaigns. 

Campaigns should be spending most of their budget communicating with the voters, as the voters are the ones who will make the decision on Election Day.  That being said, many smaller campaigns simply don’t have enough money to effectively communicate with the electorate.  These campaigns can’t afford TV, radio, or enough direct mail to make a difference, and have no idea how to cheaply and efficiently raise their candidate’s name ID and get out their message.  With these campaigns in mind, today we present three cheap ways to get out your political message:

1.  Online

It may seem obvious to use the Internet to get your message out, but in my experience, most campaigns are not hitting the online “sweet spot.”  Most campaigns either dismiss the power of the net (“Ahhh, we have a website, so we’re covered.  Let’s not worry about it), or are too reliant on the Internet for all of their efforts (“we’ve got a site, our staffers all run blogs, we’re on Twitter, Facebook and 17 other social networking sites, and we’re pouring all of our resources into series of Meet-Ups over the next two months.  We can’t lose!”)

The truth is, for most political campaigns, your campaign website, e-mail marketing campaigns, and social networking sites should serve as a magnifier for all of your other efforts, and not a replacement.  Very few campaigns will have the capacity to move most of their voters via the net.  Instead, smart campaigns will leverage their online and social media presence to turn more people out for their events, find more volunteers for their outreach efforts, quickly broadcast good news and respond to attacks, and raise more money than they otherwise could.

In other words, your online presence should magnify what you are already doing offline, and add some new opportunities that are strictly online.  (For more information, check out Using the Internet in Your Campaign and Using Social Media in Your Campaign).

2.  Grassroots Organization

We’ve covered building a grassroots organization extensively on Local Victory, but once you build one, what should you do with it?  One of the best ways to use your grassroots troops is getting your message out cheaply.  Your volunteers, block captains, ward leaders, and precinct chair-people are great resources for spreading your campaign message far and wide.

You can have your grassroots leaders hold meetings, rallies, and events, go door to door, do lit drops, schedule one-on-one meetings with local leaders, and more…  Just be sure that they know what your message and issues are before they start.  Hold a training session, get them the proper materials, and then send them out to spread the word.  (For more information, check out The Beginner’s Guide to Grassroots Campaigning).

3.  Press Coverage

When local campaigns think of public relations or “getting press coverage,” they think of the NBC Nightly News and the Wall Street Journal… and then quickly surmise that there is no way they can get coverage in those outlets, and so decide not to do press releases or other PR efforts.

For local campaigns, getting press coverage isn’t about getting into USA Today.  It’s about getting into your local weekly paper, mentioned in a segment on your small town’s talk radio station, or placing an op-ed in the town penny-saver.

Getting press coverage is a great way to spread your message, for free.  Spend some time getting to know local reporters.  Send out press releases.  Write articles about important issues for the town paper.  Call in to talk radio.  Efforts like these usually start off slow, but can really pay off in the end.