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Political Commercials Aren’t Just for TV and Radio

"a paid political announcement"

Connecting to Voters in 2018 Means Connecting Online

We Americans commonly, collectively assume that voters feel connected to political candidates before they vote for them. Certainly, the Democratic and Republican parties both have stepped up their effort to align themselves with voters in digital advertising and social media in recent elections.

Candidates use data to target specific constituencies, plan ad buys to target specific demographics, and tailoring outreach campaigns to target specific online properties – just as campaign managers have been targeting specific TV programs for decades to attract some groups of voters. One can even argue that this online, social dynamic is changing political parties and their platforms (and whether it’s for the better is for each voter to decide).

Social Media and Politics

Using technology in campaigns isn’t a new phenomenon. Clearly, mobile communications, social networks, and websites were used successfully in 2008 to propel Barack Obama to the White House. Political analysts suggest that Obama’s “Change” campaign created a sense of connection among voters that hadn’t existed before they connected using technology.

While there’s no telling how closely the administration actually governed to its adherents’ philosophies, it’s apparent that people were excited and engaged by the use of online content and social platforms, and that some voters have come to expect that level of engagement (and suggest that this is an area where Hillary Clinton fell short, while Donald Trump was aptly able to create emotion, excitement, and energy with his Tweets and other social content.

Political Video Ads Online

Very recent campaigns have melded social media with effective political campaign ads. Trump utilized video clips from his rousing public rallies to generate video content that could be presented as ads on websites. The idea that TV ads brought candidates straight into voters’ living rooms has leaped to the web, where candidates can be in notifications,  text links, audio and video on a constant basis.

Voters may not learn a lot from watching election videos, but they do pay attention to them, so it’s critical for campaigns to choose the right political voice over artist to attract and keep voters’ attention and stick in their memory.

Of all the voices out there, there are only a few dozen voice-over artists whose voices appear in the majority of U.S. political ads. That’s why PoliticalVoiceTalent.com works with voice over actors who have built reputations for effective commercials.

With the average 8 seconds you have to get a voter’s attention online, you need an effective, memorable political voice.

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Going Negative in Political Ads: Does It Work?

Grover Cleveland attacked in poliitcal cartoon for protectionist tariffs in 1888.

Are negative political commercials and attack ads useful?

With the sheer volume of negative political ads that voters are exposed to in hotly-contested political campaigns, one might assume that negative ads work. They must work to motivate voters, or persuade voters, or educate voters, since they’re so commonplace.

But recent political campaigns have shown that negative campaigning is no more effective at winning votes than positive messaging, although voters do remember negative ads more than positive ones. That is, both positive and negative political ads can be effective, if done well. Choosing the right political voice to relate to and persuade voters is likely more important than whether the ad is issue-oriented or an attack on a candidate’s character.

Negativity is in the Eye (or Ear) of the Beholder

Evidence is building that negative political ads can motivate voters to vote for the campaign advertiser, especially in cases of extreme partisan loyalty and in very close elections, where partisan messaging becomes a more common theme. Voters with a strong party affiliation and a deep interest in the campaign tend to be more tolerant of negative messaging than non-partisans, rallying to their candidate when he or she attacks the opponent on the opposing side.

In fact, all voters – even those who say they do not like negative discourse – are more responsive to negative commercials than they are to positive ones. Responsiveness to the ad could mean support for the ad sponsor, or just the opposite – a backlash against negativity. For these people, negative ads may work, provided they’re focused on the issues, not the opposing candidate’s reputation.

Policy vs. Personal Attacks

Voters tend to separate a campaign ad’s tone from whether they believe it to be informative. That is, many voters will think of a campaign ad as negative but also think that it contains relevant, truthful information.  So, negative yet policy-oriented ads may be a good strategy for tight races.

The tendency to “go negative” increases in close races, as well as big-budget campaigns.  The bigger the ad spend for the campaign, the more likely it is the campaign will be a negative one. This, too, seems to support the idea that negative ads help in some situations.

In recent elections, there are some signs that overwhelming attacks on the credibility of a candidate can cause voters to stay home who support the candidate who’s being attacked. A perfect example of this is the Trump v. Clinton campaign for president in 2016. Trump ran no positive ads, focusing mainly on Clinton’s scandals and on tarnishing her reputation. One could argue that all that negative advertising caused Clinton’s voters to refrain from voting or that Trump motivated his base to turn out, or both.

Independent Voters Are Less Swayed by Negativity

There is one group that political science research shows are not swayed by negative ads:  independent voters. With the increasing importance of independent and swing voters in national elections, campaign staff would be well advised to consider the content and tone of their ads. Do they want to go negative and alienate voters from the “other” party? Or alienate those critical independent voters?

Here at PoliticalVoiceTalent.com, we can help you decide the tone and content of your message, and find the perfect voice over talent for your ad campaign. Whether it’s a positive issue-oriented campaign or the strategy is to attack the opponent, an experienced political voice over actor will provide the impact you’re looking for.

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What Goes Info Making an Effective Political Campaign Ad?

Here at PoliticalVoiceTalent.com, we’ve seen all kinds of political advertisements. Negative. Positive. Factual. Non-factual. Effective. Un-effective. We believe first and foremost that the voice of the commercial is most important: Is it relatable? Local? Trustworthy? Our professional political voice over actors provide the voice for political ads on a national, state, or local basis.

We know what goes into the best political ads. Here are the key elements to a successful political commercial, and to choosing a voice for your radio or TV ad campaign.

Emotion

Political campaigns want to stir up emotion to compel you to vote – and to vote for their candidate. Political ads can be designed to make you happy about your current situation, or angry, or feel safe (or unsafe) or elicit approval (or disapproval) of the candidate.

Political ads often use imagery associated with children to build positive or sympathetic emotion in voters. Other ways to build positive feelings include imagery associated with financial success or lifestyle. Typically, eliciting positive emotions is a tactic used by incumbents.

On the other hand negative emotions (especially fear) can be used to compel a voter to vote for a candidate – often an insurgent. Playing on fears – of insecurity, whether financial, governmental, or familial – can be an effective way to get attention. Fear and other negative emotions can backfire, though, and create the type of anxiety that might case voters to want to stay at home on Election Day.

Our expert voice-over actors know how to create urgency and expertise, and we can help find the right political voice for your particular campaign.

Persuasiveness (Trust)

You know the old saw… No one trusts politicians. And that remains a reality in the Unites States’ electoral system today, though sometimes it seems people do trust politicians: they trust the incumbent to serve their interests, or they trust an insurgent to provide the representation they’ve been lacking.

Building trust means not relying just on the words of the candidate, but on their record (or that of their opponent). Using reliable, reputable third-party source to back claims made in your ads is a great way to build trust and persuade voters to align themselves with your candidate

Frequently, celebrities are used to endorse politicians and to attract some voters. Finding a leading celebrity to espouse a cause may be prohibitively expensive, though, unless the celebrity is willing to provide their name, image or voice free of charge. Equally as frequent are celebrity actors in ads whose credibility on the campaign or issues is in doubt.

A professional political voice actor with experience in political ads of all kinds – negative, positive, dramatic or fact-based – can provide the vocal trustworthiness you need to create a compelling political ad.

Facts vs. Truth

Political ads frequently make claims about the state of government or society, or the actions of their opponents. But voters rarely fact-check; they are inclined to align with the candidate who is most persuasive or who appeals most to them emotionally. The claims their candidates make are rarely questioned by supporters.

We’ve even seen recent campaigns where what candidates and their supporters have “chosen to believe” in a position or viewpoint, or firmly adhere to what they “believe to be true”, and those views or beliefs may not be rooted in facts at all.

Because voters rarely fact-check, claims are frequently accepted at face value. While political wonks and journalists may use Factchecker.com or Snopes, making effective claims has little to do with facts or truth. Rather, the claim must be sold effectively.  Effective political ads’ voices make candidates’ claims on their behalf, using a voice that might be recognizable, trusted, or persuasive based on the actor’s range, style, and techniques.

Style

How a political ad uses imagery or sound uncovers stylistic choices that the ad creators made while scripting and editing the advertisement. This is true also of the political voice over, where the vocal style should complement the content and creative approach to the ad.

The commercial’s soundtrack might include the voice-over, sound effects, music, speech snippets from candidates, and other background noise. None of the techniques used in creating political ad recordings is accidental or random; each image or sound in an ad contributes to the overall desired effect, just as in cinematic or musical productions.

PoliticalVoiceTalent.com can help identify the right political voice, as well as help with techniques to create a compelling and unforgettable political ad style – one that engages voters, and gets them out to vote for your candidate.