This week we want to talk about your campaign’s communication plan.
There’s much more to a political campaign communication plan than how and when to talk to constituents. A communications plan organizes who the campaign’s target audiences are, what messages you’re using to communicate to them, and how you will communicate with these audiences en masse.
Your plan should also reinforce your field plan (link to field plan post). Together these plans will help you reach your vote goal by putting you in contact with as many voters as possible. If a voter has read about you in the local newspaper, your volunteers will probably have a more interesting and engaging conversation with them at their door. After all, a huge part of being a candidate is getting out there and talking to people so that they have the opportunity to vote for you!
The communications plan template can be broken down into four parts;
- Media List
- Responsibilities and Materials
- Media Calendar
- Direct Mail and Ad Strategy
Megan’s Communications Plan
Like our previous posts on the different aspects of our campaign plan template, we are going to look at imaginary candidate Megan Hammond.
Megan’s race for School Board in Bear County, New Mexico may not reflect your race or races in your area. Not a problem! Megan’s plan is simply an example of how you might use the template. The template is designed so that you can customize it to work for your campaign.
(If you’re interested in learning more about Megan, check out our blog featuring her and her race here.)
The first part of Megan’s communications plan is her media list.
As a candidate on a budget, Megan needs to use free media opportunities to amplify her voice and spread her campaign message to more of her constituents.
Megan has compiled a list of respected media outlets in her area and the relevant contact person’s information. This media list (pictured below) includes local newspapers, TV stations, and radio outlets. Your media list may include the same type of outlets as Megan’s, or completely different – it all depends on the size and nature of your race. You might add in blogs and podcasts that your audience subscribes to. So don’t be afraid to add rows or columns to your list and make it your own (it’s customizable for this very reason!).
(For any questions about how to use Google Drive check out our guide here!)
Overview of Responsibilities and Materials
The next section includes two main components:
- What materials you need in order to communicate effectively
- Who is responsible for the different aspects of your campaign’s communications
For Megan, she plans to communicate with her audiences through email, mail, and campaign literature. So her overview includes both the materials she needs for these communications and who is responsible for each communications task.
Megan predicts she will need to order stationery and envelopes (for fundraising thank-yous) campaign literature (for her volunteers to use when they’re knocking on doors), and a GOTV Direct Mail Piece. Each material is listed with a corresponding date that it should be ordered.
Megan has a small budget, so she’s relying on a number of volunteers to take on various communications responsibilities. She lays out those roles clearly so everyone knows what their lane is and the campaign can function smoothly!
Your overview can be as long or as short as you like, but make sure to be specific about both needed materials and responsibilities. Clear and specific goals are key for a successful campaign plan!
Equipped with a list of media outlets, materials, and responsibilities, the next and largest component of a communications plan is all about scheduling.
Your media calendar is the heart of your communications plan. It outlines upcoming communication efforts and events, an outline of how, when, and where you plan to communicate with the media and your voters.
Unlike many other parts of your plan, the communications calendar is usually only planned a few weeks or a month in advance. Since communications revolve around what else is going on in the campaign, you can’t plan too far in advance. But you can get your planning processes and template set up early on.
The campaign plan template provides a grid (which you can modify to fit your timeline) divided by day and what form of media you plan to share that day. By downloading the template you can add columns for other social media platforms you’re active on.
Below, you can see how Megan filled out her template.
You might notice that not every cell in the grid is filled in – that’s okay! Like Megan, you may not have something to share for every day. Just remember to keep communication as consistent as you can so your supporters can be up to date on your campaign.
Direct Mail and Ad Strategy
The final component of the communications plan template is the Direct Mail and Ad Strategy.
This aspect of the campaign plan template does not apply to every candidate. Whether you choose to use direct mail and ads depends on your district, race, and strategy.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that direct mail or ads will help your campaign reach its goals your next step is to outline several elements of your intended strategy ;
(The format for mailings and ads on the campaign template is slightly different, but both include the same elements.)
Megan made the decision to use direct mail, so her plan outlines each mailing she plans to send out, who’s going to receive it, how many people will receive it (she needs at least a rough estimate for budgeting purposes), and when people will receive it.
An outline like this helps Megan’s campaign keep things organized and on schedule
Your Communications Plan
We know this is a lot of information to take in. Don’t be concerned if you don’t have a perfect communication plan ready to go immediately! The template has a lot of extra guidance and can help you in any areas you’re unsure about.
Also, if you’re looking for additional information check out our course on Writing Your Communications Plan which will walk you through the entire process.
Remember – communication with voters is fundamental for any successful campaign. So, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success with great communication plan!