Top 5 Campaign Tips from 1995 (That are Still True Today)

Imagine—it’s 1995.

Google doesn’t exist. You’re walking around with a phone the size of a brick weighing down the pocket of your fashionable corduroy pants. Friends just surpassed Seinfeld as the hottest sitcom on air, and if you wanted to watch it, you had to tune in at 8:00pm every Thursday night.

In Hamilton, Ohio, there’s an architecture firm named Steed Hammond Paul. SHP doesn’t have a latest page (or a website to begin with) so to reach the masses, we ran a print magazine showcasing our proprietary community engagement service—The Schoolhouse of Quality®.

Three decades later…

Our Director of Client Analytics, Fil Anastasio, presented an informative “SHP experts series” presentation to the firm on public referendums and the current political climate surrounding public facilities funding.

In advance of this presentation, we blew the dust off of this bad boy from our archives, as a reference point on how much campaign tactics have evolved since Bill Clinton was commander-in-chief.

…Except we were floored, because as it turns out, the tried-and-true campaign tips SHP wrote about in our summer 1995 edition of SOQ® Magazine are still pretty relevant 28 years later.

Granted, a lot has changed. Our technology has never been better, and our ability to assist community-led campaigns has continued to improve with data-driven approaches such as TargetVote (an SHP-developed voter analytics tool that helps campaigns target audiences). Yet, these base-level guidelines are still accurate and can be applied by any community campaign to assist with the passage of a public referendum.

Here are the top 5 campaign tips from 1995 (that are still true today):

1. Listen to your community.

Before you go to the voters and tell them what the district needs, let them tell you what those needs are and what they’re willing to support with their tax dollars.

2. Efforts must be grassroots.

Engage the voters as fully as possible by providing them meaningful ways to make their voices heard by leading the campaign.

3. Keep to the point.

After listening to the voice of the community, ask what the key issue or two is. Overcrowding? Dilapidated facilities? Whatever it is, get there and stay there. Don’t allow your campaign to lose focus because of one letter to the editor that addresses a point that is not the focus of your campaign.

4. Just the facts, ma’am.

Voters don’t want a promotional sell. Give them the facts and allow them to make their own evaluation.

5. Keep your materials simple.

Nothing will turn voters off like glitzy, overly-complicated campaign materials. Keep your materials simple, concise, and clear. Let your message shine by keeping visual distractions to a minimum.