Scriptwriting for campaign videos

We’ll keep this short and sweet, because that’s how an effective campaign video should be scripted. (Yes, we know, “sweet” is in the eye of the beholder, and using it in conjunction with the term ”campaign video” will make a lot of those eyes roll.)

Keep it Short

Before they see this sign on election day, make sure voters see video of you in action

Before they see this sign on election day, make sure voters see video of you in action

Let’s go over a few ways to use a campaign video. Of course you can use it in televised spots, which is what a lot of candidates focus on when contemplating these videos. You can also use them on your website, as well as at political functions to rally the troops. In these last two cases, you’ve pretty much got most of the viewers on your side. There may be a few vacillators who still need convincing, so they’re either visiting your site or coming to a rally to get more information about who you really are. The same principles that make an effective televised spot apply to these situations.

In all of these cases you need to focus on grabbing the viewer right away. With the number of 15-second TV commercials rising and a similar increase in those stealth pop-up ads that block your view of websites for 7 seconds at a time, people have adapted. Their attention spans are getting shorter and they’re able to process information more quickly. If you drag your feet, they’ll move on to the next distraction.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you don’t have the three potential venues mentioned above for your videos. In this scenario, you get one shot. One chance. A new law has been passed, and now every American of voting age MUST be sitting at their TVs at 8:17 on October 2. You and your opponent will be allowed to air one 15-second video each on every network. One. You cannot use any other videos in the entire campaign. Just this one, airing about a month before the election.

How to Target Your Video

So what do you say? What is the one point you want those undecided voters to hear, and for that matter, all the voters who decided to side with your opponent? What will you say in that 15 seconds to sway them to your side?

There are three criteria to meet. It must be relevant. It must be memorable (at least memorable enough for them to recall it a month later when they head to the polls). It must be believable.

Start with relevance. It’s very sweet that you’ve spent the past 20 years working with refugees, but most of your target viewers are not refugees. What is relevant to them? Jobs? Taxes? Inflation? Health care? This is where you hit them with your qualifications to deal with their concerns. You may be able to get two high-profile issues into the 15 allotted seconds, but more than likely it will just be one. Pick carefully.

Make it memorable. Often the best way to do this is to start with images that highlight the issue you’re talking about. People in the unemployment line. People struggling with tax forms. A shopper seeing the final total of his grocery bill, shaking his head sadly, then asking the cashier to take some items off. Don’t balk at starting with the image of the issue, because you still have time in the video to show them images of the solution. In other words, you. Let them know you understand how frustrating the real issues are first, then come on camera to tell them how you’re going to help.

Make it believable. This can be tough when you’re working with a short video, but it’s important that you establish at least one concrete, credible thing you have done or can do to address the problem. At some point, both the script and the visuals should highlight your campaign website with a push that promises information on how you plan to handle other key issues.

Attack Ads

Some of you may be wondering where the so-called “attack ads” fit into this. We won’t weigh in on those ads in a judgmental way, but we will point out that when you use precious video time to talk about the other candidate(s) you’re diverting the emphasis from where it should be. You. You may succeed in alienating some people from the other contenders, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve strengthened their relationship with you. You should be memorable for what you can do, not for saying what someone else can’t do.

At Hencar, we can help you craft a campaign video that will highlight exactly why you’re the right person to win the election. We can do it in a fast and effective way that will make voters take notice, and leave you actually meaning it when you say: “And I approved this video.”