Lack of Leaflets

One theme of a recent Markey field organization conference call was the dearth of collateral — signs, leaflets, brochures — in the field. The absence of a comprehensive Web site for the campaign was also noted, and has been remarked on here at DailyKOS as well. Similar complaints dogged the Warren campaign for many months. A commendable independent Web effort,, has recently launched.

Of course, the compressed schedule of a special election inevitably leads to delays and bottlenecks. And it’s natural that people in the field complain about lack of resources: that’s what they do. In early days money is still scarce, and it’s tempting to hoard cash on hand for future necessity.

It’s not obvious to me why two consecutive senate campaigns, both very much in the national eye and both crucial to progressives, seem slow to get collateral to canvassers, signage to visibility volunteers, and imagery to the Web. Can one of the veterans here explain this to a duffer?

One important asset of the progressive technical lead is that it’s not difficult for us to paper over shortfalls like this. Lots of people have computers and decent printers, so churning out good independent literature isn’t a technical problem. (The days of the quarter-sheet, once a campaign staple, are probably over.) We have plenty of people who can make an effective Web site or start an impromptu social media effort. But in the long run this raises problems of message discipline — and message discipline, unlike technology, is not our natural strength.


9 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I think you may have answered you own question.

    Materials could be put out faster, but its best to maintain message discipline, and if you’re going to stick with a message it should be a good one. I would imagine they campaign is still working on getting its message together.

  2. Camapign materials cost money

    Signs, bumper stickers and the such cost money. Every campaign goes through this – most people you give bumper stickers, signs and lit to today (and then it sits in someone’s car trunk or on a kitchen table) will be back asking for more when crunch time comes. Then the campaign has to decide to spend more money reprinting. More cost effective to hold the materials until voters are more focused.

    • Fair enough...

      ….but what are the economics, really?

      Anyone can get 10,000 4-color trifold brochures printed in 2 days for $1000, rack rate. That’s money, sure, but surely the campaign can find this kind of money. And no, 10,000 brochures won’t solve the problem forever, but it’s enough to give 100 brochures this week to every town leader. And next week you can do it again if you have to.

      Same things with the Web site. Getting the ideal message is ideal. But there’s message out there. Take the transcript of Markey’s kickoff speech, add some film, put it online in a placeholder site. Add some web banners and photos to help out bloggers. Add a link to Act Blue. It’s not exactly what you want, but it’s answering people’s questions now and it’s there now. You can replace it next week with a better site.

      What I’m asking about, really, is precisely what you say: “Every campaign goes through this.” It used to be necessary because short-run printing used to be ruinously expensive. That’s changed: it’s expensive still, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was in 1970.

      Is there something else I’m missing here?

  3. My guess...

    …first you hire the team. Then you poll for message, then draft collateral (web site, brochures, act) and then get it produced. During this period, they only things that get attention is the fires in front of you, like signatures, scheduling the next few days and staffing those events.

    Sure a campaign can develop stop gap materials in time, but often the decision is to not spend the money and produce the right stuff and it will be ready when it’s ready. But it has been 8 weeks since the announcement…and no web site or basic brochure? Hmmm…

  4. Instead of lamenting, how about action

    Last weekend, after asking my regional field director if the campaign had literature to help us as we were asking for signatures, I found my way to MArkeyforMA and found enough material to create my own. Some of it might look familiar, but she borrowed from me, not the other way around ;-) . Progressive Mass posted a PDF version and a Word/template version (so you can modify it). Please download and use them! While you’re there, see the other resources on the page and use them too.

    • We need both!

      In the original note, I did go out of my way to single out the excellent work at MarkeyForMA. That’s terrific.

      But it also makes sense to think things through — not to lament, but to get it right. And, since my “beat” here is Technology and New Media, a natural question is: “why has this come up in two consecutive progressive campaigns, both well funded and with excellent staffs?”

      Yes, absolutely: roll up our sleeves. Malden and Medford this weekend printed their own flyers. So did you. That’s the way to do it.

      But there’s also a disconnect somewhere — there’s something that I don’t understand. It’s not like someone woke up and said, “Whoah! We need signs? Who knew?”

      There’s either a good reason — in which case explaining it will reassure the nervous and educate everyone — or there’s not a good reason — in which case, we can fix it now and we won’t have it happen again in the upcoming races for the 5th Congressional District.

    • Margot is right

      I borrowed from her all, in a good cause! I like to think that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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Mon 24 Apr 3:14 PM