Thursday, December 1, 2011

Political Campaign Printing Expected to Increase in 2012 Election Year

[photo courtesy of]
As the 2012 election cycle draws near, our printing companies specializing in political campaign printing are gearing up for one of the busiest, most productive seasons yet. With President Obama’s campaign expected to raise an unprecedented $1 billion, and total fundraising to exceed $6 billion (over $700 million more than in 2008), candidates are proving that in spite of a tight economy, funding can be found.

For Consolidated Graphics, this means an increased reliance on new technologies and effective communications capabilities to meet anticipated demand for printed campaign material. Russell Price, President of Mt. Vernon Printing, explains that during election season, 80 to 85 percent of the printed campaign volume will be produced within a six-week period focused around the November election. “We usually get extremely busy around September through the last week of October, peaking our production in the final two weeks before the election. It’s a lot of work in a short amount of time, with fast turnarounds.”

Overall volume during election years has seen increases over the past decade, and that trend is expected to continue with next year’s election. “Candidates are raising much more money than they did before and spending more on their campaigns in general,” Price says.

Even though social networks have become popular conduits for broadcasting campaign messages, political candidates and consultants continue to rely on direct mail. Highlighting the validity of both digital and print communications, many election campaigns are now including QR codes and links to social media sites on direct mail to better engage voters.

The most common types of mailers seen in political campaigns are, in order of volume: persuasion mail, fundraising mail, and ballots. The majority of mail printed at Mt. Vernon is persuasion mail, or collateral focused on persuading voters to vote for a particular candidate based on specific positions. These pieces are typically oversized full color postcards or brochures with simple, direct messaging, created with the purpose of catching voters’ attention as they are skimming through their mail. “Most readers review these mailers on the walk from mailbox to trash can, so you have to catch their attention during this short window in order to maximize effectiveness,” says Price.

Some mailers are pretty innovative when it comes to grabbing recipients’ attention. According to Price, a good example of this was a direct mail piece with a sound chip embedded inside, produced by Eagle Press, a fellow Consolidated Graphics company in Sacramento, California.

While printing for the presidential campaign will remain a large focus next year, it’s not Consolidated Graphics’ only forte in this space. It works with political consultants on campaigns of all types and sizes, from presidential to school board elections, providing insight and expertise throughout all stages of collateral production.

UPDATE: See PrintWeek's feature on political campaign printing, featuring CGX's Russell Price.