Canvassing, Questionnaires and Social Media are really effective ways to get yourself known in your community and to maintain a presence with the people you will be asking to vote for you.
However, people are not always at home when you call, and during the election campaign itself in particular, you need to be sure that your story has reached as many potential voters as possible – even if for some reason it is not possible for you to meet.
Leaflets are a great way to achieve this and support your efforts both before the Election Campaign and during it too.
You will need to take a different approach before and during the formal Election Campaign itself. During the Election period, what you spend is very important and this is why you must plan what you are going to produce, along with every detail of who will produce it and what it will cost you too.
The upside of producing literature is that it will make your campaign feel much more real to you. So enjoy writing, designing and producing it!
For your Election Campaign, you really should produce and deliver a higher quality and preferably colour leaflet which has been printed professionally.
A good size for this purpose is an A5, four-page booklet, which if you were producing yourself would be rather like folding a page of A4 and using it like a book.
Always use a type size no less than 12pt and an easy to read type face such as Arial or Times New Roman.
Producing an Election Address is the ideal opportunity to tell people a little bit about yourself and your background. Be sure to do so in a way which will explain why you are running and asking for the support of local voters in a way which will make sense to the reader.
Your Election Address is also the best way to ‘go public’ with your Election Pledges or ‘Manifesto’. Once published, you can also publish your Pledges on your Blog and Social Media accounts, where you will have room to provide more information if it will help others.
A good time to get your Election Address delivered will be about a week after the Candidates List has been confirmed.
This way, when people begin to compare the election literature from all the candidates who have delivered to their address, they will be equipped with the best information possible.
Standard photo-copied or home printed leaflets:
With no election coming up in the near future, a two-sided black and white leaflet in a newsletter form is a great way to keep in touch.
Ideally your leaflets should be sized A4, but A5 would be fine.
As with an Election Address, always use a type size no less than 12pt and an easy to read type face such as Arial or Times New Roman.
This type of leaflet outside of an election period is an ideal way to produce a newsletter to keep everyone up to date with what you have done, what you are doing and what you are planning to do.
During an election period, it is an ideal quick-to produce format that you can use to pick up and highlight new or recurring issues which have come to you attention whilst out canvassing.
During the Election Campaign, this leaflet would go out ideally in the last week to ten days before the election.
Not everyone will be at home when you call.
Sometimes you will not find a way to return when you might like to, so leaving a calling card is a great way to let people know that you have visited.
Whilst they are referred to as ‘cards’, an A4 sheet cut into four parts with the same information and design on each part is a great way to produce something simple which will do the job very well, and is very cost effective to produce on your PC.
Using the same principles with size and font for your typeface as Leaflets and an Election Address, your message need only be very short.
Let your potential voters know that you called and were sorry to have missed them, but will be happy to answer any questions if they would like to get in touch. Just remember to have all your contact details on the Calling Card too!
Get out the Vote cards:
If you have any money left in your Election Expenses Budget, a great way to support your final push for support on Election Day is to deliver a ‘get out the vote’ card.
Much the same size and design as your Calling Cards, a ‘Get out the Vote’ card needs to be very simple and written as a very polite and gentle reminder that it is literally Election Day ‘today’, and that the Voter taking the time go to the Polling Station and supporting you will be greatly appreciated.
If possible, your ‘Get out the Vote’ cards should be delivered to everyone who does not have a Postal Vote.
The best time to deliver them is first thing in the morning on Election Day, before everyone has left for work.
If you have no experience of using design software, designing a leaflet will probably sound like a very challenging task.
The good news is that most computers that have Microsoft Office Software loaded on them will have a programme called Microsoft Publisher.
MS Publisher is easy to use and ideal for producing high quality and easy to read leaflets which will get your message across. If you are unsure how to use MS Publisher to complete a specific task, just Google it, remembering to start your question with ‘How do you get MS Publisher to…..’
If you are getting leaflets printed professionally, you MUST ask if the printer is happy to produce political flyers and/or leaflets.
This is particularly important for an Election Address or any material you have printed by them for use during the formal campaign, as you will have to include their details.
All of your leaflets will need a blank margin around the edges. Printers call this the ‘bleed’, and if you are setting up a design which is going to a printer, it will be a good idea to ask them what bleed will be required BEFORE you begin your design.
You should be able to find a low-cost printing company on the Internet. Just search for low cost printing or something similar, and see what pops up.
Most printing companies of this kind will do a quick turnaround and should be able to get your finished leaflets back to you within a week.
Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to get them planned, checked and printed in good time and you would be well advised to not leave creating an Election Address until the election has been called!
When you are printing leaflets at home, it will be a good idea to set up a test page with a picture, diagram or type across it. You can then check what margins you will need to leave available as a bleed at the top, bottom, left and right of the page.
Things to do:
- Plan your leaflet, Election Address, Calling Card as far in advance as possible
- Write your material first, whether its news, election pledges or notifying people of an event that you have planned.
- The only leaflet you really should get produced by a professional Printer is your Election Address. The others will be much quicker to produce on a printer at home or at a reasonably priced photocopy store.
- Use a design programme like MS Publisher which you are likely to have on your PC
- Set up your leaflet, either testing the print area on your home printer or checking on the margin or bleed area you will need with the printing company first.
- Use a Font which is easy to read, such as Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana or Gill Sans
- Use a font size of 12pt or greater for any part of the main body of text – that’s the part you want people to read.
- Leave plenty of space around your articles, pictures etc.
- Check on the information you MUST include for material you publish and distribute during the election. If you print the material yourself and have no agent, it will only be you. But if a printer and agent are involved, you MUST recognise them with appropriate wording too.
- Either way, ALWAYS include your contact details so that people can get in touch.
- Check your draft design with a few people before you get it printed. Pay special attention about how easy it is to read and whether the first impression is either busy or that there might be too much space.
- Check the spelling and grammar and get someone else you trust to check it too. Innocent mistakes like these are very easy to miss, but can be very costly further on!
- Add pictures where you can. Have a portrait picture of yourself which sits alongside your name.
- Have your Election Address ready in time to distribute at the beginning of the Election Campaign – that’s once the Candidates list has been confirmed.
- Print at least one leaflet later in the Election Campaign, say in the last week to ten days, which covers up to date news and issues which you have identified as you have been campaigning.
- When Canvassing always carry a calling card so you can let people know you have been to visit when you call at their home or business and they are out.
- REMEMBER that anything and everything you produce to be used during the Election Campaign MUST be accounted for financially. Your Election Address will almost certainly be the most costly expense you will have and you should budget for this FIRST before you think about other leaflets or anything else you might like to spend money on.
- YOU MUST NEVER EXCEED YOUR ELECTION EXPENSES BUDGET!!!
Things to remember and bear in mind:
- You shouldn’t publish opinions, gossip or anything personal in nature about anyone – even if they are another candidate.
- It’s ok to mention people in a factual way i.e. about what they have or haven’t done – as long as you can produce evidence to support any facts that you mention.
- ‘Play the ball, not the man’
- Hearsay or word of mouth is NOT factual evidence!.
- Never lie or create stories.
- Never make false promises, or suggest you will be able to influence matters that you will not.
- Be sure that the information you are discussing is relevant to the work you will have the ability to do and the authority you are working to be elected to.
- If you are going to refer to someone else’s work, reference the work openly and the source it came from.
- Always ask permission to reproduce work and/or pictures which have/has a copyright and acknowledge that it does.
- Where possible, ask the permission of the copyright holder first and remember that even as an Independent, some people will not be happy to be linked directly or otherwise with a political campaign.