Friday, December 2, 2011

They know how to get to you

Just in time for the 2012 presidential election season there is yet another tool at candidates’ disposal to help them get their message to you, and in most instances whether you like it or not.

Methods used by candidates to reach voters are always evolving. In the past few years we have seen the use of text messaging and social media to help candidates personalize themselves to voters.

In fact, a study by the Pew Research Center found that about one-quarter of online American adults used social networking sites to engage with the 2010 election.

With one estimate that half of all Americans will own smartphones by year’s end, geo-targeted mobile advertising is viewed by a growing number of political campaigns as the latest, and greatest, method available to directly reach voters.

Geo-targeted ads are touted as enabling candidates to increase the relevancy of messaging. As a result, more and more campaigns are tapping into the new era of real-time mobile advertising that is geographically relevant to a voter according to where he or she is at a particular moment in time.

So, here is a glimpse at what you could soon expect to see on your smartphone if you consented to sharing your physical location through an app. Let’s say you are picking up your kid from school and up pops an ad about how important education is for a candidate to be your state senator. After you leave school you turn onto the major thoroughfare and you get another ad that reminds you that your governor, who is running for re-election, diverted some road funds to other budgets.

You may also get an ad to let you know that distracted driving is a no-no.

These targeted ads can be sent to you anywhere – even on your way to the polls on Election Day.

Location targeting abilities are also being touted by businesses such as Internet radio company Pandora. The personalized radio service says it can use the growingly popular feature to benefit political campaigns.

Pandora boasts that “political campaign strategists have the option to target voters by state, county and congressional districts, as well as metropolitan survey areas, and designated market areas.”

The company claims that more than 110 political campaigns have run ads this year.

Those numbers, as well as the frequency of smartphone election ads, are certain to skyrocket in an election season that includes more than 80 percent of elected officials at the state and federal levels of government.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The time is always right

In a few short weeks the sound of gavels striking atop podiums will fill statehouses across the country as work gets underway to change, and in some instances improve, state rules. To many people this is a welcome opportunity to make their voice heard on issues that affect their daily lives, or livelihoods.

While the majority of people who are intent on contacting their lawmakers view the start of the legislative year as the “right time” to open a line of communication, you should not delay in getting your message across. There is no bad time to make your views known.

In fact, getting in touch with your legislators in the weeks before the 2012 regular session begins is a great opportunity to stand out. Taking action now allows you to communicate with your lawmakers about relevant issues before they are knee-deep into their legislative work.

Examples of states where it would be a good idea to start making phone calls, sending emails or writing letters about particular issues are Missouri and Pennsylvania. Legislators in both states are expected to discuss handing over state assets to private groups.

Officials in the Show-Me State will decide whether to move forward with a possible deal to lease Interstate 70 to pay for upgrades on the 250-mile stretch that links Kansas City and St. Louis.

In the Keystone State the ball has already started rolling at the statehouse to allow for deals on any existing roadway.

Elsewhere, one of the leading topics of the Maryland session is expected to be whether to increase the state’s fuel tax rates.

Whether you live in one of the states mentioned above or elsewhere, it is essential to have a line of communication with your elected officials year-round. Lawmakers cannot be prepared to address your concerns if they don’t know what they are. Help yourself and clue them in.

In addition to the traditional methods used to communicate and stay in touch with lawmakers, social media sites are growing in popularity with elected officials. Learn more about getting connected with them here.