Why Newspapers?

Originally posted on CompleteCampaigns.com and written by Tom Edmonds

This article originally appeared in Winning Campaigns Magazine.

Ten Reasons Why Newspapers Deliver for Political Campaigns 

There was a time when political and issue campaigns could buy 1,000 gross rating points per week of television advertising and be done with it.  But today’s political climate is different.  With so many choices for news and information, reaching voters with your message is becoming more and more challenging.  A diversified marketplace of ideas demands a targeted mix of media to get your message across efficiently and effectively.  Of course, for many campaigns, television is still a vital element for success.  But to be successful, consultants also have to employ other time-tested advertising mediums.*

1. Newspaper readers are voters

In the 2000 presidential election, 9 out of 10 newspaper readers cast a ballot.  In the 2002 mid-term elections, when voting is typically much lighter, newspaper readers still delivered the vote, with more than 8 out of 10 newspaper readers going to the polls.

2. Newspapers are credible

Voters look to newspapers for the information they need to make up their minds about candidates and issues.  Newspapers rank second only to television among voters when it comes to providing the most helpful information about state & local elections. Newspaper advertising gives your campaign an aura of credibility and respectability that’s unmatched.

3. Newspapers consistently reach voters

Voters consistently look to newspapers to help make up their minds about how they’ll vote.  While the perceived usefulness of other media rises and falls as the campaign progresses, newspapers maintain their strength for influencing voter opinion.  Voters count on newspapers to deliver the whole story about the candidates and issues, from the earliest moments of the campaign right up until Election Day. 

4. Newspapers reach crucial undecided voters

The conventional wisdom among consultants says that only 10-15% of the electorate is typically up for grabs at the end of any campaign.  But in reality, that number is much higher.  That’s because while only 10-15% of voters may be truly “undecided,” many more are far from certain about their vote.  Among those who say they experience some indecision, three out of four are regular newspaper readers.  Newspapers can put your message in the hands of this crucial constituency.

5. Newspapers are reliable

Nobody reads the newspaper to escape from reality, as is often the case with television and radio.  And unlike annoying telephone calls, people actually enjoy reading newspapers.  Newspaper readers seek out in-depth, detailed political information.  With newspaper in your media mix, you can be sure your ad dollars have been well spent.

6. Newspapers make targeting easy

Today’s newspapers can deliver your message right to the doorsteps of the voters you need to reach.  Most major metropolitan newspapers have established sections based on geographic zones and can target a pre-printed flier or brochure for insertion and delivery within a specific zip code.  Many can target delivery down to the census tract, block, or even house by house.  You can have your message delivered in a flyer or brochure, on a “Post-it” note placed on the front page, or even on the poly/delivery bag in which the newspaper arrives.  Poly/delivery bags are especially useful for getting out the vote on Election Day.

7. Newspapers can provide more information to voters

Use newspapers to highlight endorsements, issue clarification, and candidate comparisons.  Your candidate can also use a compelling newspaper ad to generate interest from the press and garner valuable earned media opportunities.

8. It’s easy to advertise in newspapers

Placing political ads in newspapers has never been easier.  Typically the media buy can be completed with a single order and check.  Nearly every state has its own press association that can help you with all of your planning and buying needs.  You can always call newspapers directly.  Most have their own trained political sales staff. 

9. All politics is local

Voters know newspapers are the place to go to find out what’s going on in their communities.  They know that unlike television or radio news programs, newspapers cover local issues every day of the week.  And they know with a newspaper, they’ll get real, in-depth coverage of the local issues most important to them.  The same issues that often determine how they’ll vote on Election Day. 

10. Newspapers are an essential part of a successful media mix

Broadcast, direct mail, and phone calls are all still important, but you also have to put money into other proven and effective advertising mediums like newspaper.  In fact, newspaper ranks second only to television among voters when it comes to providing the most helpful information about state & local elections. 

*All statistics based on a  nationwide poll of voters and the media conducted jointly by the Cromer Group, a Washington, D.C. based Democratic firm, and Moore Information, a Republican firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon.  1,200 registered voters were contacted by telephone August 6-10, 2003.  The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3%.

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