Local Campaigns Turn to Cost Effective Methods of Marketing During Election Cycle

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YouTube and social media used extensively by political candidate in county race.

The election is over, but the analysis into the aftermath has only just begun. While much of the press has taken interest in the national campaigns, small, local campaigns have become creative in reaching out to voters this past year. Because of the lower budgets of these campaigns, the candidates and their staff or volunteers have used the internet to reach voters in inexpensive ways. Because internet use is widespread now, especially in urban areas, and even among older voters, connecting in this way has become essential for politicians trying to reach their constituents.

Vik Vad, political candidate for Travis County Tax Assessor, commented on his use of YouTube and social media during the past year. Because it was his first run for political office, using these tools was paramount in spreading his message. "We started with a basic Facebook page for the campaign, as well as a twitter account," he states. "It took awhile for these to catch on. At first it was just my friends who signed up and followed the pages. After making numerous speeches, attending events, and placing signs, suddenly the social media became very popular."

Vad even had a small budget for his Facebook page, running ads showing people which of their friends had already liked the page, as well as targeted ads to various zip codes. "Austin is very diverse, and my message was consistent, however, certain parts of it were emphasized to certain groups throughout the city, depending on their zip code," Vad continues. The strategy proved useful not just in getting votes, but also by gaining name recognition, and letting people know about his down ballot race.

Later in the year, amateur and semi-professional videos of footage from Vik Vad's speeches, and interactions with the community were captured at events or gatherings. Vad then hired a video editor to compile these videos to create a YouTube video that displayed his campaign platform in a tasteful way, complete with narration and logo to continue branding the name and policies. "Even though TV ads were out of the question, I wanted to give people a short clip of what was going on so they could take away some message," he explains. "We used footage from the County Convention, some from a press conference at party headquarters, as well as still images to share the message."

Another opportunity came when Mr. Vad was interviewed in Lago Vista, at a candidate forum and gala. Craig Bushon, local radio personality, broadcast his show live, and gave plenty of time to individual candidates to answer questions, and clarify the details of what they each stood for. "This was helpful because there is almost twenty minutes of video in case someone wanted to hear about this race in depth," he adds. "The first video gave sound bites, capturing the essence, but in this one, I field questions from Craig on the air."

Vik Vad continues to reach out to interested citizens by updating his blog as well. Here, he is able to articulate in print what he is feeling and doing, by giving readers useful insights, quotes, and anecdotes from both the political world, as well as day-to-day life. He hopes that voters continue to stay informed even past the election, and hold elected leaders to the platform that they stood for while campaigning.

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Jay Wiley, Communications Director
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