What materials can you leverage to elevate your PAC?
The average office worker receives 121 emails a day and checks his or her phone an average of 80 times a day. Cutting through this existing noise to provide impactful PAC content that both educates and motivates your eligible community is no small task. But being strategic about your communications and content is one of the most effective ways to create a feeling of community that others want to join. We recently discussed this topic at the Council’s Creating Impactful PAC Content workshop and came away with the following key considerations that should drive your content strategy.
Make it personal—the saying “all politics is local” can be applied to PAC communications as well. If the information or message you are sharing doesn’t touch someone personally or you cannot show them how the PAC affects them or their job, the content you provide likely won’t resonate. As Jennifer Brooks, PAC manager at Northrop Grumman Corporation stressed, you can’t talk to everyone the same way. This is especially true if you have a large eligible class spread throughout the country, across divisions or job functions that each have very different interests and roles within your organization. It’s not enough to simply broadcast that the PAC is important and expect your audience to trust that it’s worthy of their financial investment. The more transparent your program is, coupled with compelling personal reasons for why it matters to them, is a must.
Identify the best messenger—the best messenger is not always the most obvious person. Sometimes the most effective messenger to communicate the importance of the PAC is not the one with the highest title, but a well-liked, highly respected individual that people know and trust. As in one example, the difference of an email being opened could rest on whether or not it comes from someone at the corporate office. But finding the messenger is only half of the challenge. You will have to test, examine and monitor open rates on subject lines, timing, messengers and more to identify the most effective communications methods. Mica Evans Hider, Director, AmeriChem PAC at the American Chemistry Council sends almost all PAC email communications from her address which has proven to resonate better than other messengers within the trade association. Additionally, she has found that her community still responds well to direct mail. Understanding your internal culture and how your eligibles prefer to consume content is crucial to a successful strategy.
Plan ahead—it’s not enough to wait until January to develop a plan for the year ahead. Mica reported spending nine to ten months planning her PAC campaign and content strategy for a calendar year. The more time you set aside to plan and the earlier you start the more cohesive and thoughtful your strategy will be. Consider creating a content calendar to keep yourself on track and your outreach consistent. Jessica Strieter Elting, Senior Manager, Federal Relations at Aflac reports providing her PAC community with an average of six touches a month. The right amount of communications will vary for each organization, but it’s important to communicate regularly with more than just a financial ask.
Make it fun—don’t be afraid to keep it light-hearted and experiment with fun themes in your approach to PAC content. One of Jessica’s most-read PAC emails at Aflac was about cilantro (yes, you read that right). She also launched a Did You Know series of communications that focused on education, including comparing political spending against other spending categories. In case you are wondering, Americans spent twice the amount on potato chips in 2016 than they did on the presidential election. Additionally, Caitlin Donahue, Senior Vice President and Head of Digital at Curley Company, recommends downloading a complete list of upcoming “holidays” for some fun inspiration. Did you know International Cat Day, National Coloring Book Day and National Tell a Joke Day are all coming up in August? There is no shortage of silly, but real opportunities to engage your audience in a fun and creative way that already exist. Politics can be polarizing, consider taking a more light-hearted approach to your PAC communications from time to time.
Don’t be afraid to take a risk—finally, all of our speakers agreed that sometimes it’s worth taking a risk on a big idea. Trying something new or altering an existing program can be nerve-racking, but it’s important to trust your gut. That advice extends beyond simply your content strategy and into all major aspects of your PAC program—don’t be afraid to take the leap outside of your comfort zone.
Thank you to our speakers, Jennifer Brooks, Jessica Strieter Elting, Mica Evans Hider and Caitlin Donahue for contributing content to this article via their participation in the Council’s recent workshop on Creating Impactful PAC Content. For more information on developing a communications plan or content strategy for your PAC, please contact Kristin Brackemyre at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.787.5969.