From David Axelrod and Karl Rove's MasterClass

Getting Your Message Out

Karl and David analyze the ever-changing media landscape and teach their most effective ways to use television and the internet to disseminate your candidate’s message.

Topics include: The Importance of the Candidate Website

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Karl and David analyze the ever-changing media landscape and teach their most effective ways to use television and the internet to disseminate your candidate’s message.

Topics include: The Importance of the Candidate Website

David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Teach Campaign Strategy and Messaging

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Preview

One of the things about politics is it's changing rapidly, and it's always been changing. Think about how much politics has changed in the last, say, 10 or 15 years with the emergence of social media. Well, imagine what it was like in the early 1950s when television began to be used. Think about what was in the 1920s and '30s when radio suddenly appeared on the scene. So we've been constantly going through new technology and new ways of our society being organized. And as a result, politics, which is an expression of society writ large, has constantly been changed. - There is a growing array of ways to communicate with voters in the modern era. And certainly social media has revolutionized communications in some ways. It is still true that the nuclear weapon of politics is television. It costs more to reach people because viewing habits are diffuse. But you can reach people on a broad-gauge basis through TV like no other vehicle. - I think David's right about television in particular. In most campaigns for governor, senator, president, even a lot of congressional races, it's the most powerful means of communication. But the amount of money being spent on it in smart campaigns is declining. I've been involved in a Super PAC since 2010. And in 2010, we spent maybe 5% of our budget on digital. We're now spending 20% or 25% of our budget on digital. So you take into combination the other mail and cable and network TV and radio, and you'll see that those are-- particularly network TV-- declining. The interesting thing to me is that the things that make digital advertising so powerful can also be applied to television. And the tools are now becoming available. That is to say we can microtarget your television. Because underneath most everybody's TV set is a computer keeping track of what you watch. It's called your cable box. And that data is now being monetized by a lot of cable companies. So you can literally take that data of what is being watched, overlay your microtargeted voter file your target, who are you trying to reach, and literally start to buy television on the basis not of just broad demographics, but on the basis of individual viewing habits. So for example, we began to do this in 2014, and we found-- the old saw used to be you got to buy 1,000 gross rating points a television to drive an ad home. And what we found is, if we took the microtargeting data and redid the television based not just on what we thought people watched but what they actually watched, that it dropped the cost of television-- [INTERPOSING VOICES] - Yeah, well, this was the great inspiration of the Obama campaign in 2012. We hired 54 analytics people in that campaign. We gave the profile of the kind of voters we wanted to reach, because we had analytics that said, these are the targets in each market that are going to make the difference. So the result of it was we were on 64, I believe, cable networks. But Mitt Romney's campaign w...

What it takes to win elections

David Axelrod and Karl Rove reach across the aisle to offer an inside look at winning campaign strategies. The respective architects of Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s historic election victories teach how to develop a campaign platform and reach an audience with consistent messaging. Find the inspiration and tools to get involved at any level, or simply become a more informed, engaged citizen.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

The class has given me an insight into US political campaigns.

Both are concerned with the state of democracy and that is the main point of the class and why I am taking the class. I am going to take time to digest the content, apply it and pass along.

As someone who jumped into local politics for the 2018 cycle and watched a super energetic but completely disorganized candidate improbably win, I found this to be a really helpful brain dump from two masters in the craft. The step-by-step process they outlined will help me help other local candidates who need strategy and structure.

The course wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. I believed it would focus more on developing strategic messages, but I learned a lot and very much enjoyed it. Now off to my next course!

Comments

Ulanda C.

This is a good discussion because the bulk of my voters are absentee. I think that setting up a rotating cycle of the mix of media is very important and can be a cost savings if done correctly. The hashtags generates an increase of listeners. BONUS!

Michael O.

"... the nuclear weapon of politics is television." [Axelrod] Newspeak: to be a successful politician it is necessary to declare nuclear war on the electorate?

A fellow student

Ok, I do have a personal blog. I have it only to see if I could make the technology work. In my 80's I'm not sure that my way of looking at the world is the only way to see it. Maybe reading another person's posts would be more beneficial to me. Targeting information using various forms of media is interesting but more complex with each new media advancement.

Mia S.

A: Let me tell you something about direct mail - I think there's this misconception that direct mail only is relevant to older voters. One of the things that was a revelation to me in the Obama campaign was that younger voters were actually consuming it, and so one shouldn't assume that it's just a tool for older voters. I think the future, by the way, is going to be addressable media, where you're sending ads customized - 'Karl Rove has an interest in this particular issue. We're going to customize this ad, send it to him through email. (R: A variety of channels.) And radio is another tool, by the way - radio is a way to target individual constituencies; it's a good tool in drive time in some major markets, in rural areas, a lot of people spend a lot of time in cars. There's some utility to radio. The one thing that I would caution everyone in any campaign is to make sure, whatever you do, you do enough of it to reach people with enough force to get your message across. One of the mistakes that campaigns typically make is that they load up on no one particular vehicle and they don't do anything well. That's a mistake that you want to avoid. So understand what the right mix of media is - making sure that in the aggregate, you're hitting your target and you're hitting them with enough force that you can get your message across. Websites are important for donors and activists and the acquisition of data. You may want to advertise digitally and drive people to your website for that purpose. It's also something that if people are interested in your campaign they can go and find information - journalists are going to look and see what they can find out about your campaign on your website. And so are opposition researchers - more than once you've seen ads that are negative that say, 'This is their position; and don't take it from me - it's on their website!' and cites the candidate website, which is kind of a devastating blow. Be aware of what's on your website, understand that it can be used offensively against you, if you think you're just talking to a narrow audience. Also understand - one of the advertising techniques to drive people to your website is to say, you know, 'Join us in fighting the separation of families,' and you punch through to the website and you get a candidate website and if you get there and there's nothing about, for example, what's going on at the border, then people are going to feel -understandably - like they were duped. That it was a bait and switch. So you have to be conscious of the tending of your website, you need to constantly update it with material, but it's something every campaign should have.

Mia S.

R: For example, we began to do this in 2014, and we found - the old saw used to be, 'You've got to buy 1,000 gross rating points a television to drive an ad home. And what we found is, if we took the microtargeting data dn redid the television based not just on what we thought people watched but what they actually watched that it dropped the cost of television. A: This was the great inspiration of the Obama campaign in 2012, we hired 54 analytics people in that campaign. We gave the profile of the kind of voters we wanted to reach and we had analytics that said, These are the targets in each market that are gonna make the difference. So the result of it was that, we were on 64, I believe, cable networks. But Mitt Romney's campaign was on 9. And it turns out the people who watch the news are the people who've already decided who they're going to vote for. And we were advertising- people were saying, 'Why are you advertising on Andy of Mayberry at 3 in the morning?' Because our data showed we should find some voters there. And it made for not only a cheaper buy, but also a more efficient buy. When [Karl] and I started this, there were just a few networks. And people pretty much all were watching. You could gather most of the electorate just on network television (R: ABC, CBS and NBC). Now, with cable, with cutting the cord, with social media generally, you're not going to get - no matter how much you invest, you're going to miss a part of the electorate. And so you want to make sure that you're reaching those people you need to reach. R: The interesting thing though is what you said about cable-cutting. Because now - we can now target the individual. So if the target voter is watching Hulu,we can literally buy an ad that appears on that whenever they load up Hulu and watch whatever they're watching. 'Love Island,' or whatever - we can buy an ad there. But not everybody who is cutting the cable is in a service that allows us to run an ad. So that's why digital is rising. And mail is staying sort of where it is.

Mia S.

R: One of the things about politics is, it's changing rapidly, and it's always been changing. Think about how much politics has changed in the last, say, 10 or 15 years with the emergence of social media. Well, imagine what it was like in the early 1950s when television began to be used; think about what it was in the 1920s and 30s, when radio suddenly appeared on the scene? So we've been constantly going through new technologies and new ways of our society being organized. As a result, politics - which is an expression of society writ large - has constantly been changing. A: There is a growing number of ways to communicate with voters in the modern era, and certainly social media has revolutionized communication in some ways. It is still true that the nuclear weapon of politics is television, it costs more to reach people because viewing habits are diffuse, but you can reach people on a broad-gauge basis through TV like no other vehicle. R: I think David's right about television, in particular - in most campaigns for governor, senator, president - even a lot of Congressional races - it's the most powerful means of communication. But the amount of money being spent on it in smart campaigns is declining. I've been involved in a Super PAC since 2010; in 2010 we spent maybe 5% of our budget on digital. We're now spending 20-25% of our budget on digital. So you take into consideration the other mail and cable and network TV and radio, and you'll see that those are - particularly network TV - declining. The interesting thing to me is that the things that make digital advertising so powerful can also be applied to television, and the tools are now becoming available. That is to say, we can microtarget your television, because underneath most everybody's TV set is a computer keeping track of what you watch, it's called your cable box. And that data is now being monetized by a lot of cable companies, so you can literally take that data of what is being watched, overlay your microtargeted voter file, your target, who are you trying to reach? And literally start to buy television on the basis not of just broad demographics, but on the basis of individual viewing habits.

Chris D.

It seems to me that targeted advertising is at least part of the reason politics seem to be so much more polarized today. I understand why ads are targeted, but I think it's a mistake that hurts the political process and the candidate's ability to govern once in office. Large groups of voters don't see any ads for the candidates they aren't likely to vote for, and as a result, they're left feeling that anyone who votes for that candidate must be an idiot, or crazy, or evil. 20-30 years ago, when I was exposed to advertising by BOTH parties, I had my preferences, but I could at least see how reasonable people might vote the other way. Now my friends in blue states have no idea how or why any reasonable person could possibly vote Republican. Meanwhile, my friends in red states can't fathom how anyone with a head on their shoulders could vote Democrat. They don't realize that there are many reasonable people on both sides of the political divide because only one side is talking to them.