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Topics: 2020 Elections, Social Media, Strategy, Volunteers, GOTV, COVID-19

5 Keys for Election 2020

I recently had the honor of being invited to sit on a webinar panel organized by the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC), where we discussed 2020 political messaging in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It was a great conversation, with a lot of great takeaways for candidates and political professionals across the board.

Many of the points I shared on the webinar echo discussions I’ve been having over the last ten weeks with The Prosper Group’s clients and our team. 

As we all continue to deal with this shifting landscape, I’d like to go ahead and share my 5 Keys for Election 2020 here.

I’d also like to thank the AAPC for hosting the webinar and inviting me to participate. It was great to join forces with fellow panelists Corinne Clark, Wilsar Johnson, Mike Nellis, and moderator Jenifer Sarver to share our insights and bipartisan perspectives.

Andrew Finnan

Key #1: Never alter your brand

You have a unique brand that defines you and your campaign. For most campaigns, you have to alter what you are talking about, not how you talk. Staying genuine to who you are is critical for social media. If you were to alter your brand or digital persona, you risk seeming inauthentic, opaque, or shallow. Stay within your brand’s voice and be relevant within top discussions. Your audience will be able to tell when you are inauthentic. Your goal is to build VOTER TRUST.

Beware of going too granular. You can’t have a message for everyone. Pick your lane. We hear a lot about hyper-targeting, but be careful. You don’t want a muddled mess of messaging.

As a candidate, you have specific characteristics to the type of candidate you are, and this is part of your brand. If you are a disruptor, continue to be a disruptor, but adapt your topic to be relevant and timely to our current situation. The same goes for thought leaders or community advocates – maintain your brand within this new paradigm.

Key #2: Diversify beyond social media to reach new audiences

Social media is great for your organic content. Continue to promote some of that content to reach your audience. Over the last couple of months at home, user screen time has skyrocketed. Reports have it up 20 to 25 percent more than pre-pandemic.

But, remember that not everyone stuck at home is consuming YOUR social media or the news.

Find your audience outside the walled gardens of social media. An “underserved” audience is out there, and now is your opportunity to connect. Aggressively use audience-based targeting, along with banner ads, pre-roll, OTT, and connected TV, to make new connections. Parents have been looking for ideas on how to homeschool are not always on social or news sites, but are valuable audiences.

Advertising inventory is significantly cheaper as corporate demand has dropped over the last ten weeks. Capitalize on this opportunity using these rules:

  • Keep your content relevant; remember to build trust.
  • Offer reliable information for relief and recovery.
  • Don’t be too granular with your message.
  • Push a broadly appealing message on OTT and Connected TV. The reach may not be great, but it’s a valuable audience.

Here is my best recommendation for you: Use brand lift and ad recall studies to measure the impact of your advertising. Don’t make the mistake of using vanity metrics to measure success.

Key #3: Social amplification is how you knock on doors during social distancing

Use your email list or deploy peer to peer texting, and recruit your supporters to amplify your message where you can. If you are asking supporters for money, also ask to borrow your supporters’ friends. Ask supporters to share or retweet your content. Ask supporters to generate and post original content of their own, but be very specific in your asks. 

Video from your supporters asking their friends and followers to check out your website or Facebook page is a powerful asset that conveys authentic support. Make specific requests for posting on social: I agree with Candidate “Joe Smith” when he said, “our state governments should have been better prepared.”

Key #4: Virtual volunteerism will be critical

In the absence of a traditional ground game, technology will be the place to secure a winning edge – in 2020, digital will drive the ground game more than ever before. It will largely replace traditional voter identification and outreach.

Late adopters of technology will be forced to embrace it. Don’t be unprepared.

Expect an explosion of these tactics given the absence of a traditional ground game:

  • Online surveys
  • Chatbots
  • Email surveys
  • SMS messaging trees
  • Virtual phone banking/Phone from home programs
  • Tele-Town Halls

An integrated consumer relationship management (CRM) platform will be a campaign necessity to effectively harness diversified sources of information and track interactions. You need to work with a knowledgeable digital team that can provide CRM capabilities, and can put those capabilities to work for your campaign. 

The good news is this virtual ground game will increase the speed of collecting data. In turn, you can utilize this data more rapidly. 

Key #5 Vote by mail, absentee ballots, and early voting is going to determine the elections

All political parties have this in common – they need to motivate and turn out the vote to win competitive elections. And this year’s election could forever alter how we vote. 

The dynamics of this election, with more voters than ever voting by mail and/or voting early, will dramatically change how campaigns should spend GOTV dollars most effectively. 

What to expect:

  • Social pressure creative and content is going to be on the uptick. Expect messages like, “Your neighbor voted…did you?” 
  • Audience targeting will have to adapt. As voters cast ballots in advance, do you have the infrastructure and optimization capabilities in place to stop serving ads to early voters?

There you have it. COVID-19 is impacting this year’s elections in countless ways... and how we respond as candidates and political professionals could make all the difference between victory and defeat.

The 5 Keys for Election 2020 listed above are central to our conversations at The Prosper Group, as we develop strategies and tactics to help our clients adapt to the shifting landscape. You can check out the full webinar at Finding Inspiration in Isolation: Creating Compelling Messaging for Political Campaigns.

Please also share your comments and questions with The Prosper Group on social media:

@theprospergroup on Twitter

@ProsperGroup on Facebook


Andrew Finnan has worked in data-driven, message-focused campaigns since 2000.  Finnan serves as the Vice President of Digital Strategy at The Prosper Group, where he works with some of the most challenging races in our country, overseeing the design and implementation of digital engagement campaigns. Through well-planned and coordinated online tactics, targeting, data modeling, and optimization, he has fun designing winning digital strategies for The Prosper Group’s political campaigns, advocacy organizations, and corporate clients in North America and Europe.

Follow @andrewfinnan on Twitter

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