The 2020 Election and How Candidates Use Content Marketing to Amplify their Messaging


Friday, September 18, 2020 8:16 PM

Unless you’re currently living under a rock or without access to TV, you are already well aware that 2020 is a presidential election year. But what you may not know that it’s also a year to vote on who will represent your community in the House of Representatives, State Senate, State Assembly, special state legislative, local judges, school boards, municipal government, and various other important ballot measures specific to each state and county. Pre-COVID, political ad spend was projected to hit a new high in 2020, surging $3.6 billion above the most recent presidential campaign year (according to a report from the Wall Street Journal). Researchers also projected that political ad spending will get close to $9.9 billion in 2020 (as stated by WPP PLC’s ad-buying unit GroupM); an increase of $8.7 billion from 2018 when midterm congressional elections were held, and significantly up from $6.3 billion in 2016 when President Trump was elected. This week on the inPowered blog, we’re breaking down what goes into political content marketing, some strategies for success, as well as an update on what some of the biggest PAC’s are currently employing content-wise as we countdown to the big day this November.

Political campaigns, whether local, state or national, all rely on content marketing to amplify their messaging to potential voters in an attempt to secure their confidence. Information on policy, where each candidate stands and what they hope to bring to the position plays a massive role; as does how this information is disseminated to the electorate and community at-large. Candidates and PAC’s are able to leverage voter data files, websites and social media pages as the core foundation of their digital platform, and from there, amplify specific messaging and campaigns to the communities they are trying to sway the vote for. High-level, political content campaigns will want to focus on:

  • What content is resonating most with their target audiences.
  • Segmenting variants of each campaign by geographic, voting history or any other key data points specific to the goal of the campaign (income level, number of dependents, health insurance status, etc.).
  • Using a “Next Action” attached to each piece of content to help drive specific business outcomes, such as campaign/initiative consideration, email capture, engagement or other high-value actions taken to bring the individual closer to giving their vote of confidence.

Campaign content can be derived from anything — videos, slogans, campaign appearances, memes or any other consumable asset. “Read my lips, no more taxes” was content delivered by President George Bush Sr., and eventually came back to haunt him and contribute to his loss of the 1992 election.  The tagline “Change We Can Believe In” and image of “Hope” from President Barack Obama was content that has been widely attributed to supporting his victory. These signature phrases weren’t developed out of thin air, but rather from the information flows into the campaign –emails received, user-generated content directed at the candidate, conversations in the community – all of these things set the tone for the electoral ‘mood,’ and political content marketers need  to create content that conveys that mood.

It’s also important to be mindful of the messaging each piece of content is conveying; making sure it’s not only aligned with the current consumer mindset but also does a good job of explaining why this cause or candidate deserves support. Campaign content should have specific themes that they want to work on such as fairness, jobs, change, etc. All messaging will refer to these themes with a view to building a clear proposition for the voters. Employing a “Next Action” on each piece of content can also provide data points to determine whether or not content messaging is resonating with target audiences, which is also a key component for success.

Social media, love it or not, is also a core component to campaign content marketing success. The majority of online political discourse takes place on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and all have become vital lifelines to cultivating communities and rallying support. We recommend strategically utilizing these platforms for live videos to engage with constituents, connecting with the younger generation (hello TikTok and Gen-Z), as well as directly asking and responding to questions posed by potential voters. While there are definitely trolls roaming about that may try to rain on campaigns with opposing viewpoints of their own, having a strong social media presence is a necessity for an engaging, comprehensive content strategy.

So, with that said, what’s going on in our current landscape with regards to the 2020 Presidential Election? As the numbers currently stand, the Trump campaign spent about $23.3 million on ads on Google properties in August, compared to $15.7 million spent by the Biden campaign on YouTube in August (as noted per data from BPI’s 2020 campaign tracker.)

An article from Axios noted that the objectives of this year’s campaign were significantly different than what they faced before in light of COVID-19: In a normal election, the campaign would focus its advertising efforts on persuading voters in the weeks leading up to the election. But the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, currently faces a new unique challenge: his campaign needs to mobilize individuals that want to vote not only about his policies and plans for America’s future, but how to do so during COVID-19; which requires much more advertising expertise and resources. His team just announced he will be working with Bully Pulpit Interactive, the agency that previously helped President Obama to win two consecutive elections and serve eight years in our nation’s highest office.  Additionally, GMMB will still be playing a major role handling the campaign’s overall digital marketing efforts; but BPI’s primary focus will be on bringing awareness to a new initiative that works in tandem with GMMB, to target persuadable voters with the necessary information needed to vote such as deadlines with mail-in ballots.

Another big player in the 2020 Presidential Election is the Lincoln Project, a robust Republican PAC led by George Conway, Reed Galen and many other senior leaders of the political party. Their main objective in previous election has been on supporting Republican candidates to secure the their positions, but in respect to this election they’ve pulled a complete 180: they announced in December 2019 that their primary focus has shifted to “Defeating President Trump + Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line.” They have played a heavy hand in creating + amplifying content specifically counter-arguing the misinformation spread by the President, while encouraging fellow Republicans to vote against their party in the upcoming election. Some of their most viral campaigns have been “One Day,” “UnAmerican” and “Wake Up,” which have racked up millions of views across the internet. We commend this super PAC not only for going against the grain and standing up for what is right vs. what is “comfortable;” but also for their incredible content marketing tactics that have made a major impact on many.

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