It's fall about IEs 🍂 - CN4 Partners
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Hi there –

While it may not quite feel like it yet, fall is upon us. And that means we’re headed into IE Season. Many people want to start an Independent Expenditure (IE) campaign, but don’t get it off the ground. Here are some things to consider as you contemplate an IE.

1. The first rule of IE is to do no harm. We’ve seen poorly run and executed IE campaigns that hurt more than they help. Make sure you have excellent compliance staff and a professional team to understand the right message and the laws specific to your jurisdiction. The most important rule is NO COORDINATION. This means that you cannot discuss your plans with the candidate or their campaign.

2. Know your goal. You don’t have to run a massive duplication of the candidate’s campaign to run a successful IE program. Focus on what the campaign can’t – or won’t – do!  Sometimes, by having a small goal, you can run a specific IE that is enormously helpful to the larger effort. For example, we’ve run in-language mail programs segmented by legislative district and targeted to speakers of Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Urdu and Somali. This is a program that many campaigns would like to do, but are under-resourced and cannot do them.

3. Start early. Unless you have unlimited funding, it will take time to discuss the race and your plans with other funding partners. Can you do an IE at the last minute? Sure, but why if you don’t have to. And, some states have laws against moving large sums of money into PACs at the last minute.

4. Work with other partners. Sometimes by combining efforts you can get economies of scale and are able to accomplish more. Or, often there are allies such as labor unions or progressive organizations that may want to fund your IE, rather than doing their own. If joining forces isn’t the right option, in most jurisdictions, it’s completely legal for IEs to work together. Coordinating launch dates for digital and tv ads, sharing assets like photos and video, and discussing mail universes and drop dates on mail is tremendously helpful so you don’t duplicate efforts.

5. Don’t forget about digital. As media evolves, it is important to layer your communications. Targeted digital ads, especially video content, is a great tool for IEs to reach more voters. Digital display and video ads are also a great tool if the candidate is only able to send mail.

6. Understand where the campaign has financial advantages. If a party organization is donating mail to a campaign, postage is 10 cents cheaper, so it’s highly likely that a candidate will have a well-funded mail program. So, too, candidate campaigns have a significant financial advantage over IEs when purchasing broadcast or cable television or radio. Under federal law, candidates are afforded “lowest unit rate” and guaranteed the cheapest rate available, while IEs typically pay at least double if not more for the same product. Therefore, if the candidate you’re trying to help is likely to go on television, maybe steer your IE to a heavy digital campaign, where no group gets discounts. By keeping close tabs on what the campaign is up to by following publicly available information, your IE effort can make smart choices.

Here at CN4, we’ve helped hundreds of independent expenditures, candidates, campaigns and progressive causes. We’d love to talk to you about your next political project. Reach out anytime.

– Breann