Political Media Strategy 101: Picking A Buyer

Welcome to Jan Crawford Communications! On this blog we hope to help guide candidates and consultants on the nitty-gritty of media strategy, placement and FCC Law. We welcome questions and discussions as, particularly, the world of FCC Law governing political campaigns is ever-changing.

On this our first blog, directed towards candidates, we will give guidelines on choosing the best media strategist for your campaign.

Few functions in a campaign are more misunderstood that the devising of a media strategy and the targeting of a media buy. Yet, these functions are crucial to the success or failure of a campaign. There are several reasons for this:

  • Commercial advertising agencies and media buying services tend to be pre-occupied with gross rating points (GRPs) — that is, the number of viewers — rather than the quality of the audience. Buying solely for audience size is wasteful because your campaign is paying dearly for reacing non-voters, Republicans, as well as potential supporters;
  • Unlike radio stations, which have narrowly defined audiences, television tends to be more mixed. Ferreting out the right audience is more time consuming and exacting, and commercial media planners and buyers tend to be non-political and therefore, unconcerned with political nuance; and
  • Finally media time buying has its own lexicon, an overabundance of statistics, and sophisticated technology, which can be intimidating to a candidate and campaign staff. Many candidates place themselves in the hands of commercial professionals and wind up with media buys that would be successful if the campaign was selling used cars or soap.

Your media strategist should be involved in all crucial campaign meetings. The more he or she knows about the entire campaign the more integrated the media buy will be. Also, because television stations have specials that are announced during the campaign, the strategist can make judgements as to the effectiveness of placing a spot in a particular program at a particular time.

You should ask for proposals from at least two or three strategists. If working with a media producer, ask to meet with the media strategist and for their working knowledge of both media targeting and FCC Law. Many will take a percentage of the media buy while others will charge a flat fee with a bonus, if the campaign is successful. JCC likes the last approach as we are not purchasing time just to make money.

Next blog — The Mix of Television, Radio, Cable, Print and Internet.

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