Political campaigns have been an integral part of the concept of democracy. Candidates from all parties and the independents use the allocated campaign period to sell their policies and get more voters on their side. Some are using political radio ads to achieve their goal.
Today, politicians spend billions in their campaigns; much of this money goes to political ads. For instance, the paid media placements for the 2019-2020 election cycle will reach $6 billion. This figure excludes the ongoing primaries and the coming presidential campaigns.
If you have plans to run for political office, you have to select the best medium to pass your message across. While digital channels continue flourishing, radio remains one of the most effective communication channels during political campaigns.
The success of digital media does not mean people don’t listen to the radio anymore. The 2019 Nielsen’s Report shows that 272 million Americans tune in to their favorite stations every week. The report shows radio is far more ingrained in American life than what most people think.
Many politicians already know the power of radio advertising. In 2018, they splashed over $21.47 million on radio advertising to grab seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a political candidate, political radio ads should be at the core of your campaign if you want to reach your target audience.
If you are drawing your political campaign strategy, this guide is for you. It explores the advantages of radio advertising and offers tips to design effective political radio ads.
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Why Invest in Political Radio Ads?
With the advent of digital media, radio seems to have taken a back seat in advertising. Most advertisers now rush to use digital tools even when their target audiences are elsewhere. For a political campaign, you cannot limit your advertising to digital channels; you might exclude a large chunk of your target voters.
Some of the benefits of incorporating radio into your political advertising:
1. Cost-Effective Advertising
Running a political campaign is an expensive affair: most candidates have to reach out to donors for funding. If you want to survive the tough campaigning period, you have to be accountable for every coin in your campaign. For this reason, you have to identify a cost-effective way to reach your target voters. Hence, this is where political radio ads come in handy.
Radio is one of the cheapest advertising mediums. The production and distribution of radio ads are more economical than print and television. You can, therefore, use the extra funds to finance other activities. You will pay less for advertising time compared to tv or print ads, yet you will reach the same number of people.
2. Demographic Targeted Advertising
When planning your campaign, you have to segment the voters and determine the ones to focus on to get the requisite numbers. Most campaigners have strategists and data analysts to help narrow down on the focus segment of the population.
For instance, you can choose to focus on women, people of color, Hispanic voters, young/older voters, urban or rural voters, or any other segment of the population. Radio ads will help you reach the target audience by selecting the right radio station or radio show.
Different parts of the population listen to specific radio stations and shows, making it easy to target them with political ads. It is not easy to do the same with print or television ads.
3. Theatre of the Mind
Radio ads play on the idea of the theatre of the mind. In other words, listeners get creative when digesting an advert.
For your political ads, you have to work the emotions of the listeners and allow them to interpret the ad in different ways. The act will make your political ads more memorable than print or television.
4. Shorter Lead Times
Political campaigns are hectic and tedious. Moreover, you have to select a medium that easily adapts to this situation. Radio ads are easy to plan, design, and produce. The quick turnaround makes them ideal for volatile political campaigns. You can make several radio spots and alter them quickly if things on the ground change.
Most radio stations have production teams, voice-over professionals, and studio equipment to make your ads. They collaborate with your political campaign in real-time and create the best ads within the shortest time possible.
5. Increased Frequency
Radio ads work with frequency. Because they are cheap, you can order more spots for the same advertisement. Your political ads will play over and over on the appropriate shows and time. Repetition builds awareness for your candidacy, allowing you to sell your crucial policies to the listeners. With more radio play, it is easier to win over new voters and also retain the loyalty of the existing followers.
6. Traditional Meets Digital
Radio is no longer a traditional medium of communication. The advent of online radio and streaming apps has made it possible to merge traditional radio with digital technology. More people are tuning in to online radio, making them a significant part of radio advertising.
A 2019 Study shows that 67% of the population listened to online radio. Thus, you can broadcast your political campaigns to an even larger audience. Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify are a few of the leaders in the online radio market.
7. Geographical Targeting
Radio allows you to market yourself to a specific audience within a geographic location. Depending on the political seat you want to clinch, you can select a local radio station to air your political radio ads. With radio, you can target by city, state, region or cover the whole country.
Making Great Political Radio Ads
Now that you appreciate the importance of political radio ads for your campaign, it is time to get down to work. While radio ads are a great political campaign tool, they can only work when used appropriately.
Below are some great tips to guide you with your political ad campaign.
1. Set Your Objectives
For every radio advert, you should have clear-cut objectives that you want to achieve. It would be best if you liaised with your team to discuss these objectives before making the radio ad. The goals will depend on the nature of candidacy.
For instance, a newcomer will have different objectives from the incumbent. One candidate might want to create awareness while the other wants to build on past success. Setting targets helps you run a streamlined radio campaign. You will not overshoot your budget, and your political ads will have an edge in them.
2. Narrow Down Your Target Audience
There’s no one-fits-all political radio advert, and as such, you have to customize your content for a specific audience. To do this, you have to identify your target audience by working with your team. Much money goes into political campaign research to identify the right target audience.
Every candidate wants to know which part of the population they should target to bolster their numbers. Surveys will help determine your strength among different segments of the community. Once identified, it is easier to create a custom radio ad for the target audience.
You will also work with different radio stations to identify their listeners and determine the suitability of the advertising platform. Having a target audience in mind helps identify the right radio stations and radio shows for spots.
3. Keep It Simple
The strongest point of a political radio ad is its simplicity. If you compress too much information in a radio ad, you risk failing to communicate effectively. Instead, you should address one major issue per advert and do it in a simple but effective manner. The radio ad should have a narrow focus to make it easy to understand.
4. Talk Like the Voter
Now that you know the target audience, you should create an advert for them rather than speaking over their head. Although you have a lot of data and information you would like to share; voters want to hear about real issues affecting them.
From your research, identify the terms your target voters will most likely use and put these in your ad. The idea is to connect easily with your audience and create rapport as a candidate who understands their issues.
5. Create Multiple Political Radio Ads
One of the reasons Radio ads work for political campaigns is because you can air them repeatedly. People listen to radio throughout the day; from the moment they wake up, during the drive to work, at work, over lunch, and in many other situations.
Ensure your political ads play over and over while addressing different issues. Such practices will make people notice you, which is a positive outcome for your campaign. As you continue addressing essential matters, your target voters will start listening more keenly.
6. Use Real Voices of Supporters
If you want to connect with any audience during the campaigns, you have to bring in people from the local community. It will help to create authenticity for your campaign and make people notice you. Creative thinking helps gain traction as a newcomer.
Using the voices of people from the community in your radio ads is a masterstroke. It helps you connect with the local voters and presents you as a candidate who’s willing to listen.
7. Remember To Ask For The Vote
When writing the script for your radio ads, you must have a call-to-action exhorting the voters to give you their vote. The CTA must appear in every radio ad you put out there. It would help if you did it creatively by offering some value proposition, which paints you as the best deal.
8. Work With Professionals
Political campaigns are arduous and long-drawn affairs. The candidates who invest heavily and smartly have a better chance of winning any seat. A straightforward way of achieving this is by hiring a professional team for your radio advertising.
The team will:
- come up with creative ideas
- identify the right target audience
- write a great radio ad script
- hire voice-over professionals
- edit the radio ads
- identifies the right radio station to broadcast in
If you don’t have an in-house radio production team, don’t worry too much. You can partner with a radio station for all these services. They offer affordable, comprehensive packages with the advantage of better lead times.
It is not easy to sway voters your way, but with a smart strategy, you can do this. Political radio ads present a powerful yet affordable tool to:
- reach your target voters
- build awareness about your candidacy
- showcase your policies
- connect with voters
Using such advertisements can help you gain traction eventually. So, go for it!