Media Planning in an Election Year

Submitted by Mitch Seigel on Tues, 03/8/2016

It is hard enough to plan media in a normal cycle. Add political elections to the mix and the task becomes that much tougher. Politicians running for office are guaranteed lowest rates and availability during two election cycles.

In California, the primary election is the first Tuesday in June. The forty five days prior to that date is the protected window of time for candidates. The dates will change by state, based on the date of the primary elections or caucuses. With the general election held nationally the first Tuesday in November, the sixty days prior to that date is the protected window of time for the candidates.

What this means as a planner, is that you have to plan around those cycles with promotions that will not be minimized or compromised if you are unable to get your commercials on the air on broadcast or cable TV, or on Radio. So if you know an election year is coming up like it is this year, during your media planning time frame the year before, you should be planning accordingly.

Since much attention is being paid to the elections, especially on adult programming in radio and TV, it may be wise to have promotions that actually tie to the elections. For example you could have a primary election promotion in California during the forty five days of the candidate window, honoring sale pricing for items bought during that time.

If you find year after year you are unable to get very good clearance for your commercials, I wouldn’t put too much weight on the sales during this time frame. The most important thing here is to plan ahead and don’t wait until April 15th is tomorrow to start planning!

What are your challenges when it comes to media planning in an election year? I look forward to hearing your comments. Until next time…