There’s no doubt about it: electronic devices make our lives easier and are essential for political campaigns. I can’t imagine trying to win a local election without the benefits of social media, spreadsheets, laser printers and Photoshop. But the ever-increasing popularity of electronic tools have had one bad side effect: the loss of handwriting. Writing by hand — for both communications and note taking — is becoming less and less common. In fact, schools are even scaling back handwriting classes, and it’s likely that they’ll stop teaching cursive entirely in the near future.
For those of us who still enjoy writing things out by hand, however, here’s the good news: as our society becomes more reliant on electronics for communication, hand-written assets will only gain effectiveness in business, personal relationships and political campaigns.
Think about it: even today, receiving a handwritten note from someone is so rare that it’s almost remarkable when it happens. Handwritten messages used to be commonplace, but today they are extraordinary. When someone receives a genuine handwritten note, they hold it and look at it longer. They appreciate it more. They’re less likely to throw it away, because they know that someone actually took the time to personally scribble out each word.
Companies that churn out bulk mail know this very well; that’s why you often see junk letters with auto-printed addresses that are formatted to look as much like real handwriting as possible. If a letter has a handwritten address on it, then it’s much more likely to be opened. At the very least, the recipient will spend a longer time looking at the envelope before tossing it into the garbage.
Fortunately, printing technology has not advanced enough to produce automated addressing that is indistinguishable from real handwriting (well, perhaps it has, but it’s expensive). A real, handwritten address or message — even if it’s sloppily penned — is still much more effective at holding the attention and persuading a recipient.
Someday, certainly, there will be affordable computer programs and printers that will allow you to type out a message and print out hundreds of copies of it in your own handwriting — and it will be impossible to tell if it’s real or automated. Today, however, it’s a reality that hand-writing your communications will make your efforts much more effective . . . even though it might be more difficult and time-consuming to do.
Remember my most important mantra for political candidates: the harder it is, the better it works. Writing huge amounts of messages out by hand might be very difficult, but it’s also very effective in local elections.
Most political campaign literature is only looked at for a few seconds by voters before they throw it into the trash. The smart candidate does everything possible to get voters to hold onto literature and look at it for just a few more seconds before it goes into the garbage. Handwritten messages are one of the most effective ways to lengthen the lifespan of your literature and get voters to look at it longer.
Although mail regulations don’t allow you you put much handwritten messaging on bulk mail, that isn’t the case for first-class mailed postcards, door cards that you drop in neighborhoods, and mailed thank-you cards. There are numerous opportunities for you to incorporate handwritten assets into your campaign, and you should take advantage of all of them.
To increase the effectiveness of your door cards, consider leaving a blank white space in the design that allows you to create an short handwritten message on each one. Grab a Sharpie marker and scribble out something like “Hope I can count on your vote!” on every one of your door cards before you hit a neighborhood. It might take a while to do, but it’s well worth the effect it will have on residents when they see that you personally wrote out a note for them. (I can’t stress how much I love Sharpie markers for this very reason. I think they’re one of the most valuable campaign tools a candidate in a local election can have on hand.)