We’ve finally gotten to a point in our campaign budgeting series where I’ll actually let you spend some money! Paid communications includes all the flyers, brochures, stickers, buttons, notepads, fridge magnets, radio and TV ads, yard signs, a web presence, billboards, etc. – you name it. Anything you could call ‘advertising’ is what you put under the ‘Paid Communications’ section of your campaign budget. And while there are steals and deals you can find, this is one category where you really have to put your money where your message is.
Planning your communications strategy is a huge task in itself, and that process needs to be at least outlined before you can really start assigning dollar figures – this is where getting the full dish in the Campaign Planbook is handy – but once you’ve done that, you can sit down and start budgeting.
You’ll need to start with what you believe will be the absolute most effective communications method, list out all the things you plan to do in that particular medium, and research the cost of each. Be reasonable and use average costs for your budget – if you can get it cheaper when it’s actually time to buy, well that’s a WIN of course – but for the purposes of the budget stick to realistic, average numbers. After you’ve completely covered everything in that medium, move on to the next. Continue this process until you’ve got a grand total for all the paid communications you think you’ll need to do to win.
When you’re first putting together your budget, you need to be a little greedy in Paid Communications. It’s an important piece of the puzzle, and since you’re setting fundraising goals based on your campaign budget, your budget needs to be well-rounded and contain everything that you believe will help you win in your particular district for your particular election. Some day, you’ll need to rationalize the budgeted needs/wants with what your fundraising efforts have brought in. Today is not that day. Don’t worry if the bottom line is a bigger number than you expected, or smaller, for that matter. Just go with it and move on to the next section.