Annoying, Negative Political Campaigns

31 10 2008

Right now, you can’t turn on the TV or pick up the phone without expecting some sort of political advertising. Don’t get me wrong. I have always loved advertising, especially political advertising because it’s intense but it’s only around for a brief period of time.

The candidate’s first step of advertising, which is usually issue-based, is refreshing. Then we get into the image-based advertising. I don’t mind a candidate giving themselves a positive image, but they spend most of their time giving their opponent such a negative one. The “mudslinging” has become dominant on television. In between shows, there can be three to four negative campaign commercials in a row… and I can’t stand it. Never in my career did I think I would not look forward to the commercials, but I can’t wait until November 5 so I can enjoy my advertising career again.

I cannot find any conclusive research that shows negative campaigning works. There has not been much tracking on this. Why not advertise the wonderful things about choosing you instead of the nasty, horrible things your opponent believes in? It makes me feel like my only choice is to just pick the “lesser-of-two-evils.”

Certainly you can mudsling or do whatever negative advertising you want, but the question is, SHOULD you? Do you feel ethical doing it, and will people look at you different once you are elected?

I just think there needs to be more research on the effectiveness of negative, ads as well as the ethical issues.

Krista Rodriguez

Within the Din: Get your message to your constituents

28 10 2008

Given the nature of this political season, messages from elected officials and wanna-be elected officials has become a steady blur, especially for those of us in the swing state of Ohio.  Every major network TV station and radio station is now an endless barrage of “Vote For Me” messages.  Frankly, I very much look forward to the election being over so we can back to commercials for beer, really bad car dealerships, and the inevitable “personal care” products. No, I do not have painful burning, itching and swelling, but thank you for running a thirty second ad to tell me what to do when this does happen!

It is under the environment of endless political talk that I am reminded, once again, how critically important it is for elected officials to Get Your Message Out!  Communications technology has changed dramitically over the past decade. E-mail, internet sites, blogs, webinars, Twitter, You Tube and endless other vehicles of electronic communication have made the basic land-line phone call just another tool of communication. Public officials must communicate with their core constituents, and in the manners that work for them, not for you. It is no longer acceptable to simply call a meeting at City.Village Hall and 1) Expect people to know the meeting is scheduled, and 2) To expect busy people to show up. You must reach out to your community in the broadest fashion to ensure you have an informed audience.  Get your message out!  Let people know what their government is doing, and the successes and challenges your community faces.  Sure, municipal business still must have public meetings for decion-making, but your constituents need to hear from you much more often. 

A great example of this level of communication has been the outreach efforts by the leaders of the Regional Economic Revenue Study (RERS).  RERS is an initiative of the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association to enhance economic development across the region through a region-wide land use planning and new growth revenue sharing program.  Lead by Hudson Mayor William A. Currin, Pepper Pike Mayor Bruce H. Akers, and Richfield Village Mayor Mike Lyons, this initiative has now reached the public outreach phase. RERS leaders, including Kerry Smith, Don Polyak and Tom Speaks of The Impact Group, have been hosting and faciliating presentations across the region to get the word out.  This effort inludes e-mails to elected officials, inviation letters through traditional snail mail, phone calls to key stakeholders, press releases, and a website for more information ( Further, RERS is highlighted by our funding partners The Fund for Our Economic Future and Advanced Northeast Ohio. It is only through the combined effort of all these communications we are able to then sit knee-to-knee with a broad range of key constituents to get the word out. We are reaching them in the manner they best respond, not in the manner easiest or fastest for us. The response has been overwhelmingly supportive, with a highly-engaged audience learning of this important initiative.  The RERS presentations contain the phrase: “Be informed, Get On Board!”  This message is only possible through effective outreach and communication.

RERS has been featured in several newspaper articles across the region, and live on PBS 45-49 as well as the Dan Rivers show on WKBN in Mahoning Valley.  Through a sustained and consistent messaging campaign, the RERS initiative continues to grow in awareness and support.  Is YOUR message getting across effectively?? Or, is the idle banter in coffee shops and hair salons still the communication method in your town?  Better think about it!  Residents and business owners receive a deafening din of communication in this 24/7 news world. Your message needs to rise above in order to be heard. Let your constituents know you want them to “Be informed, Get On Board!”

Let me know how YOU communicate today!


“Pooliticizing” on the streets of California

24 10 2008

In light of the upcoming election, I thought I would discuss the grassroot politicizing that has begun to creep into the advertising mainstream. One “movement” in particular caught my eye as both disturbing and creative. Venice artist, designer and activist Greg Beauchamp decided to take to the streets adorning dog feces with his opinions of John McCain’s proposed policies on the economy,  foreign policy  and how he feels about McCain’s campaign tactics.

Greg Beauchamp - Political Opinion

Greg Beauchamp - Political Opinion

I won’t argue with the creative, albeit unconventional, method Beauchamp chose to get his feelings across to the general public. As a matter of fact, I audibly laughed when I first saw the image of a little pile of dog poo with a mini sign in it.

After I stopped laughing, I realized his method proves nothing but the fact that there are stinky political extremists on both sides. Beauchamp chose to stoop to a new low in political advertising, and however ingenious the idea may be, I find it to be irresponsible both from an environmental and a political standpoint.

From an environmental standpoint he chose to litter the public sidewalks. Some could also argue that his advertising method would encourage others to leave their dog poo behind in hopes that it would be used for future “pooliticizing,” leading to an even larger and potentially stinkier problem. The political standpoint is obvious. Both camps have had their fair share of low jabs, either directly from their camps or from the extremists that have taken to the streets in support of their candidate. This kind of behavior only encourages more of the same from the other camp.

As a designer, I always enjoy out-of-the-box creativity, but this may have gone just a little too far outside of the box for me. After my initial reaction, I was a little disgusted.

What do you think?

Click here to view more pictures of Greg Beauchamp’s “pooliticizing”

Allison Stulpin
Graphic Designer

“Breaking News” doesn’t provide balanced coverage

23 10 2008

So apparently I live in one of the most corrupt counties in Ohio, or at least the media is presenting it that way. When I arrive at work every morning, I check out the headlines of the day, first on a national level on and then on my preferred local TV station’s site, When I arrived on Channel 5’s Web site, the first headline on the page jumped out at me: the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority had been raided by the FBI. News broke out that the shady business of the Cuyahoga County Board of County Commissioners and the Cuyahoga County Auditor’s Office had leaked into yet another county office. Shocker.

Yes, it’s frustrating to hear that my local government is, at a minimum, raising the eyebrows of federal agents. However, it’s even more frustrating that the media is quick to have breaking news on the FBI raids, but they don’t provide any “meat” to the story. Of the stories I’ve read, there’s no additional information to explain why the Feds are raiding local governmental agencies. I understand that the FBI can’t share details, but the public deserves to hear more than what is being communicated.

Either the news outlets need to do a better job of presenting the information, or the spokesperson for each county agency needs to speak up and provide more information to the public than what is being given.

Should Candidates be Citing Blogs on their Mailers?

22 10 2008

Martin Moleski

This post will hopefully fire up some of the most active bloggers out there. You know, the political junkies like me who follow campaigns year-round and analyze every lit piece with a watchful eye? One increasing trend that I have noticed this election year is citing blog posts to back up accusations for or against a candidate, which led me to ask the question seen in the headline.

Rest assured there are some great political blogs out there. Both Republican and Democratic blogs attract a unique fan base and often take up way too much of my time. I frequently read The Point, a bi-partisan blog run by Kyle Kutuchief of the ChiefSource and Ben Keeler of the Keeler Political Report regarding issues that affect Northeast Ohio. I also frequent other blogs like NaugBlog, Buckeye State Blog, Ohio Daily Blog , Red State and Each blog offers insight into the bloggers’ ideologies and discuss important local and state issues that I often can’t find in the mainstream media. Most importantly, they occasionally allow me to vent some of my own frustrations with the political process.

By 2004 the impact of blogging on the political process was very apparent as local, state and national candidates hired bloggers to keep the masses aware of what was happening on the campaign trail. The bloggers often had inside information that the mainstream media could never have access to and could post information faster without having the filter of the mainstream media holding them back. In addition, most bloggers don’t/won’t name sources, meaning campaigns staffers are more willing to talk openly and honestly with them.  Perhaps this important distinction could have been the difference in Matt Naugle of NaugBlog breaking the Marc Dann sexual harassment scandal instead of the Columbus Dispatch or another major newspaper.

So, there is no need to debate the importance of blogs, nor their influence on the political process. What concerns me is the amount of freedom and lack of accountability when information posted on blogs is used on political mailers or flyers. The way I see it, I could post untruthful or misleading information on a blog about any particular candidate, and his/her opposition could cite that information without really needing to verify the information. The detrimental effect of this, of course, comes when there is not sufficient time to challenge the untruthful statement.

It would be interesting to know if the Ohio Elections Commission has discussed any rules on whether or not information posted on blogs can be used in campaign materials.  My relatively quick search found no such rules in place. Please, share your thoughts.

Dynamic Web Sites Rock!

21 10 2008

I hate it when I go to a web site expecting to see something different than the last time I was there, only to be met with the same stale press release headline in the “Latest News” section on the home page that was there three weeks ago when I visited!

With all the dynamic opportunities out there, it’s time businesses recognized the need for dynamic content on their web site. Consumers, prospects, clients, vendors…everyone expects new information when they visit a site. News sites like and and others, do an outstanding job at created and pushing out dynamic content. Literally, if I was to visit right now, I’m 99% sure I’d see something different than I did when I logged on this morning.

Now, news sites have an advantage because their content is always changing anyway. What about the little guy who doesn’t have breaking news happening every 24 hours?? There are many other ways to make a site dynamic outside of “Latest News.” Here are a couple suggestons:

  • Automatically tie in your calendar to the home page, so visitors to the home page see dates and events change every time they visit the site
  • Include an RSS Feed from an industry news site – they already keep their information fresh, why not take advantage of that?
  • Write a series of articles that can be rotated on the home page – with a little customizing, your site is now fresh every day

There are just a few options. Depending on the industry, there are many more ways to make a site dynamic and relevant to visitors. Just think through what YOU like to see/get when you visit a web site. Should there be sound and/or video? Can you include testimonials that rotate on the site? Or portfolio samples? The possibilities are endless.

Certainly, this can be a lot easier with a content management system running the back end of your web site. And, you’d be surprised at the cost and benefits that come with a content managed site – all the things listed above (calendars, dynamically updated news feeds, web video, etc.) and then some. 

This whole “dynamic” thing isn’t going away! If your content is stale and out of date, your customers and/or prospects will go somewhere else. Definitely something consider as you look at plans for 2009.

Matt White

The Importance of Using Social Networks

20 10 2008

There is a social network out there for just about anybody. If you don’t believe me, check out, a place specifically for cat lovers. Or, a site for baby boomers.

According to the Boomj web site, it had more than 1 million visitors in the month of June alone. If your business sells to this demographic, utilizing the web site is the perfect way to reach your desired audience. Your dollars are targeting the exact people you want, without getting lost on others in between.

I guarantee you, no matter what product or service you sell, there is a social network for it. All it takes is a little research, and it’s worth it in the end.

By exploring a social networking site that pertains to your business, you’ll get a feel for what people are interested in, upset with or new things they would like to see. It’s a great way to be more engaged with your audience.

A few more social networking sites for you to explore:


Abbey Swank

A Sucker for McDonald’s Monopoly Game

9 10 2008

Every year at about this time, a crazy phenomenon occurs…Monopoly at McDonald’s! I get sucked in! It is VERY unlikely that I will win ANYTHING! And, yet, I go in and buy more McDonald’s food than anyone should, with the hope that I’ll win that $1,000,000! In fact, just today I bought the Big Mac meal…large size, so I could get the Monopoly pieces on the fries, too! One of the pieces I got was Park Place! All I need is Boardwalk, and I’ve got $1,000,000 coming my way! I’m SURE I’ll get it “next time” I’m there! I’m sure of it!

So, this got me thinking…surely I’m not the only sucker for McDonald’s Monopoly game. Otherwise, they would have stopped the promotion year ago. So, I think, “What is it that drives me to this place for decent food, that’s not really good for me, to spend my money with the hopes of winning a million dollars??” And, that’s when it hits me! It’s the dream…the hope…the wish…the once in a lifetime opportunity. What would I do with a million bucks? Who knows! But, man wouldn’t that be cool?

And, what McDonald’s has done so well is taking the simple concept of what used to be played with tear-off pieces and a brochure-sized game board, and integrating it with the web. So, now they make it so you feel like you have twice the opportunity to win. All the game pieces you get at the store have a code that can be entered at for a chance to “roll” the dice for a turn on the virtual game board of Monopoly. Outstanding!

Or course, McDonald’s has partnered with FootLocker, Shell gas stations and Coke to offer instant prizes, as well. Once again, making you feel like you just can’t lose!

The web site does a great job of getting you to register, so they gather all your relevant information (I assume they will use that for market data, as well as sending me something at some point).

One thing that’s lacking is web video. There is some sound included on the site, but wouldn’t it be more powerful to actually watch a video of last year’s $100,000 winner telling his story of a pessimistic attitude, how he never thought he’d win, but he kept trying, and after 3 or 4 visits he got that winning piece? Video is such a powerful medium and can say so much with very little. We have been able to integrate video into web sites and have seen some great results. I just think McDonald’s missed out on a huge opportunity to take a great concept one step further.

In the end, they got me! Video or not, I’m hooked. I can tell you what meal and what size to get to ensure you get the best chances/most pieces! Sad! But, if I can just get that one other piece…Boardwalk! I’ll be a millionnaire! Whew! I’m hungry…anyone for McDonald’s??

Matt White