Print Politics

8 Ways to Use Print Campaigning to Win the Youth Vote

Although most people my age consider themselves political, few of them get it together to actually get out there and vote on Election Day. What can your campaign do to appeal to younger demographics?

For most Democrats, the 2004 Federal Election was a wee bit disappointing, to say the least. Those of us in the printing industry were particularly disillusioned, as we knew that the electronic voting trend was trouble from the start.

If you were one of the many (but still too few) young people that is passionate about politics, one of the questions that probably weighed most heavily on your mind in the days of post-election ennui was “what happened to the youth vote?” Although there were a lot of us that came out, there weren't enough to stop us from wondering: what's it going to take to break young voters out of the somewhat disturbing combination of political enthusiasm, but voting apathy?

Since 2004, there has been a major push within government, education, and even the entertainment industry, encouraging young people to use their voting power. Music for America, for example, has bands like Green Day getting voters to use their cell phones at concerts to text in and register to vote. Those who register in this way will then get text reminders to GO VOTE on Election Day.

We all have high hopes that the youth vote will come out in droves in '08. Particularly if Obama becomes the presidential candidate, I'm just bursting with this warm, fuzzy feeling that the kids will make a stand for change, and show their voter power. After all, although Obama is no spring chicken age-wise, he's certainly the most youthful candidate we've seen around these parts since, well, since I've been around, in any case. But will he be able to break young voters out of the somewhat disturbing discordance of political enthusiasm and voting apathy.

But what can the average, potentially less-than-youthfully charismatic candidate do to get his or her youthful constituents to come out and vote? The internet would seem like the obvious choice, but according to a Blog-ads survey, kindly pointed out by these guys, the youngest voting demographics spend surprisingly little time and energy on political blogs. It seems that whomever online campaigning is attracting, it's not us.

With this in mind, here are eight ways to use print campaigning to attract and compel young voters:

1.
Devote a small segment of your print campaign budget to simply BEING DIFFERENT. In a world of rampant consumerism and overabundance of choice, the only things that we have time to take notice of is advertising that is unique. A great way to accomplish this is through design that breaks the mold.

2.
Try using unconventional types of political campaign print advertising, such as vehicle wrapping, DVDs with nice packaging, and even stickers.

3.
Create a direct mailer designed specifically to appeal to us. It should be possible to manage your direct mailing list to target the under-25 demographic. Have the mailer focus on the issues that concern young voters, and don't just feed me a bunch of bland information, inspire me.

4.
If you're having 5000 yard signs printed, have 1000 printed just to attract younger demographics. Use bolder colors, unique designs, and don't be worried about all the old yard sign rules. Create something that will actually make me pause and pay attention.

5.
The youth vote is by far your most cynical audience, despite our reputation as bleeding-heart democrats. Odds are, if you're a politician, I'm already not impressed. So show me that you're different. Cut all the typical advertising BS out of your youth-targeted print campaigning. Be visually compelling, but ideologically straightforward.

6.
In fact, be more than straightforward. Don't be afraid to shock me. In a sea of candidates that I can barely distinguish from car salesmen, a print ad that speaks to issues of violence, inequalities, natural devastation, or other hot button issues will show me that you are anything but all flash and no substance.

7.
Consider devoting part of your print campaign to a message that simply encourages people to get out and vote on Election Day, because when it comes right down to it, I haven't seen anything yet that convinces me my vote is actually worth anything.

8.
Don't be afraid to campaign your issues in your print advertising, not just your name and your party. Make me believe that this isn't about electing you, it's about making the world a better place.

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