The only way to get noticed in today’s society is to market yourself. Even the act of opening your mouth to introduce yourself, stick out a hand for a handshake or give a business card is an act of marketing. Without marketing, there’s no possibility of being noticed. Whether you are looking for a job or looking for a new friend, how you present yourself to others is key in the amount of, if any, success you will obtain.
Marketing has never been more crucial than in politics. The moment you decide you want to run for office as representative of whatever institution, town, city or country, you better have a budget set aside for promotion. Promotion is not just about sharing your message with your target audience; it is about enticing them, provoking them to believe in you over your opponent for all of the reasons you have listed and more. Without an efficient way to advertise yourself and your message, elections can’t be won.
I have never been a person to pay much attention to politics, in fact, majority of the time, I tend to abhor such related news. Although politics exist in every aspect of the economy, no matter what form of employment you choose to take, I refer specifically here to the politics related to law and government. Until recently, there has never been an electoral race that gripped my attention such as the Democratic race for candidacy between New York senator Hilary Rodham Clinton and Illinois senator Barack Obama. Part of the reason stems from the fact that no matter which candidate wins, they are both breaking racial and gender barriers that have existed in the American political landscape since the founding of the country. Senator Obama represents the first time someone of African descent has run for presidency, not to mention Senator Clinton represents the very first time a woman has run for the highest office in the United States.
More than the barriers both Democratic candidates are currently breaking, what also draws my attention is the message both of them are promoting to the public. Although they are running for the American presidential election, whoever the successful candidate is will directly affect relations with Canada. Both candidates place the emphasis of their campaigns on change; change from the Bush administration, change from the current real estate recession and change on the subject of climate change and global warming.
The key both candidates have used no shortage of is efficient, sufficient advertising. Public, national debates, rallies that are televised internationally, and tours to the various constituencies all over the country. Any medium available to them, both Senators Clinton and Obama took full advantage of, including but not limited to television, radio, print and touring. Internet blogs have extensively covered the race for the Democratic candidacy even more so than their print counterparts.
Unfortunately, this knowledge to use whatever medium possibly to advertise your message within politics has had difficulty spreading to more local, community levels. This only became more apparent to me as I started my post-secondary education and was subjected to the various ways that potential candidates tried their hands at running for positions in the Student Society.
I believe that I speak for the majority of the student body at my particular educational institution when I say that we are, for the most part, completely indifferent to the candidates and the governing body they run for in elections. The grave mistake made by the governing student society since I’ve been enrolled as a student there; and I believe since the school was founded, was the lack of diversity in their advertising. Wallpapering various poles, bulletins and walls is effective within a smaller community, but not in an institution of 32,000 students and one can only estimate the number of faculty and staff.
Speaking from experience, as a student, and as secretary and unofficial marketing/advertising coordinator for the poetry club on campus; the only thing that is guaranteed to succeed when using this method is the amount of layering all the wallpapered posters will create. Very few posters have the chance to catch the eye of their target audiences, announcing an event or contest, before being wallpapered over. And yet, for reasons unknown, this still is the most popular method of advertising to the public, in this case, those of us who work and obtain our educations at the institution.
Moving back to the subject of the student elections at my school, all of the candidates settled for wallpapering, or at best, standing in the midst of heavy foot traffic between classes to hand out fliers. Having potential candidates plaster every visible surface with their faces and slogans, does nothing to appeal to me as a potential voter. I know nothing about who they are and what they stand for, and more importantly, why they believe that they outshine their competition for each elected position, and what changes they will bring to the student government. During first year classes, all of us must strain to hear professors in lecture halls designed to hold at least 300 students. Even in the last years of a degree, of which I myself am in the midst of, it still means lectures of 50 to 60 students. There is simply no way of remembering every person I have taken classes with over the course of the last three years.
Having your face plastered on the wall that I currently could be leaning against means nothing to me, because I do not know you. There is no connection, there is no attempt to entice or convince me, as a member of the target audience to pay attention to what you as a candidate stand for. Anyone can write words on a flyer and claim to have these abilities or these standpoints, but it takes practical, effective demonstration to sway the majority of the populous to care.
Now, I realize that students running for office have nowhere near the amount of funds allotted to Senators Clinton and Obama for their campaigning; however, there are alternatives that have proven to be more successful, both on a local scale with city politics and other events.
As mentioned earlier, being an executive member of the poetry club, I took it upon myself to do the advertising for the club, and immediately starting thinking of different ways to reach fellow students, more effective than simply taping posters to the wall, or relying on passersby during the once-a-semester set up of Clubs Days.
It struck me rather quickly that very few, if any other clubs took advantage of faculty advisors using their mailing lists to alert the students under that particular faculty. The majority of notices related to events and organizations I’d received from the two faculties I am a part of, were of outside events, or organizations that the alumni were involved in, rather than enrolled students. I was surprised, and still am now, about how so few of the student body, both those running for elections, and those in clubs, sought the assistance of the faculty advisors when advertising for an event, organization, or themselves during election season.
I decided for the poetry club, that although we would not stop postering nor having a table out during Clubs Days, that utilizing the advisors’ mailing lists would be the best way to reach my fellow students. There obviously is never a guarantee of everyone responding, however, using the e-mail mailing lists gave me the largest possible market segment to advertise to, as every student receives e-mail from his or her respective advisors. In addition, the creation of business cards to hand out during events was implemented, as well as talks to have a table throughout the semester to advertise the club during heavy traffic between classes.
And yet, these are initiatives seemingly unheard of amongst my fellow students who decide to run for office. To entice votes, there is nothing wrong with utilizing the mailing lists to organize a speech, or a particular rally. There is also nothing wrong with incorporating the campus radio station into a campaign in order to convince voters. The excuse of becoming cost-effective during the course of campaigning for a political position in the student government is faulty and useless. There are many alternatives that oblivious candidates refuse to entertain, and as such, reach a far lesser number of potential voters than if they had incorporated various techniques into their campaigns.
Bottom line of politics: if you want people to vote, you better advertise. Versatility in your advertising is the key to having your message be heard, and stealing as many votes humanly possible.