With the 2008 campaigns underway, the question to ask is: "How do we get our message to the voters in the most cost effective way?"
Two key parts to winning an election are Name Recognition and Voter Connection. Having worked with all level of campaigns for the past twenty years, most recently the US Senate race in Texas, I know that radio is the most cost effective method to promote a candidate.
Name Recognition comes from repetition. There is no short-cut, no way around this. Heard enough times, a name gets remembered. Yard signs - those visual polluters - are the perfect example of a campaign's attempt to repetitively broadcast through a cost effective medium. However, this only works if the name is simple and the candidate is known. If funds are unlimited, feel free to stake your place in every yard. But if funds are tight, don't waste too much on signs unless your candidate is named John Wayne and he is running for County Sheriff (or some similar luck of the draw).
Radio achieves Name Recognition. It is more flexible and penetrating than any sign, flier or bumper sticker. Yet it remains short enough to avoid losing the voter's attention or, worse still, being seen as an annoyance. This is a name-brand country. Products are purchased based on confidence, familiarity and trust. Votes are cast in the same manner. What could be better for a candidate's branding than to be sandwiched between a Kraft and a Coke commercial?
Voter Connection depends on issue communication. Once a voter has committed a name to memory, the next step is to associate it with positive opinions. This is where radio shines over other mediums. The tone, sound and mood conveyed on air elevate the message and strengthen the bond with voters. Every radio commercial is a cost and time effective way to knock on a lot doors at one time.
In the 2006 US Senate race in Texas, over 95% of the population did not know who my candidate was as of July 2006. Four months later, with the use of radio (no billboards or major television) over 1,550,000 votes were cast for her. Everyone involved with the campaign knows that radio was the difference.