It’s important to work out before an election the key messages that we want people to remember about the Liberal Democrats when they go and vote. Although as party activists, we may know exactly why people should support us, we need to make sure that these reasons are clear in the minds of the voters and that we keep reminding them. If we don’t do it, then we may find the other parties come up with clearer and simpler reasons to vote for their candidate, and to not vote for the Liberal Democrats, than us.
Coming up with a good message
Your campaign messages should be worked out well in advance of the election, and key things to consider are:
- Your messages should be truthful and credible. There’s no point coming up with messages that people will work out aren’t true or, even if they are true, no one will believe.
- Messages should be clear and simple. If a message involves detailed policy information or statistics, people with only a passing interest in politics will switch off.
- Messages that include clear statements and ideas that people feel strongly about always work well, especially if they are a well known local issue.
- Make sure that one of your messages makes it clear who the battle is between e.g. Lib Dem versus Conservatives and Labour can’t win, rather than that any party can win.
- Make it clear why people should vote for your candidate as opposed to any other, for example what your candidate is doing in the area and why the Liberal Democrats are the best party for your ward.
- Your message should include the negatives against the other parties or candidates. Be careful how you handle these, as campaigns should be a balance between positive and negative messages rather than being all positive or all negative. You should also be careful you don’t libel your opposition by making statements, (whether true or not), that can’t be substantiated. Also make sure that any negatives will resonate with the public, rather than just political hacks.
Using a message grid
A good way of working out your messages it to use a message grid. This asks the key questions you need to know the answers for when running your campaign, and the main messages that must be in all of your literature. Blank message grids and an example of a completed copy are available to download below.
You should make sure that a copy of your message grid is pinned to the wall in your party office, risograph room, above the computer where leaflets are artworked, or anywhere else where campaigners work (although make sure they aren’t in view of the general public). This helps to remind all party activists of the messages you are are trying to get across.
How to use your messages
You should make sure these messages are known as widely in your campaign team as possible, and run through every piece of literature that you do. The messages can be put across by campaigning on the isssues that are crucial in the ward that is being contested, they can also be put across through appropriate photos, as well as through graphics such as bar charts. What is clear though is that the messages only work if they are used consistently, in every piece of literature and that you are doing regular literature throughout the ward all year round.
It is worth reviewing your messages at regular interviews. Although they should not change wholesale, you may wish to tweak them based on new issues that emerge or if you find out from public feedback that certain ones are not working. It can also often be clear that a message is working well if the opposition parties feel the need to respond to your messages in their leaflets, such as trying to rebut them or if they start campaigning on an issue that you picked up first.
Download these files
Send us your best practice
If you have done a good leaflet, target mailing or eCampaign that use clear campaign messages that you are particularly proud of, then please send a copy to Anders Hanson at ALDC at firstname.lastname@example.org