Monday, August 31, 2009

How to get a job in politics.

I was in College Park MD this weekend teaching a campaign school for American Majority . It was a decent size class with some potential candidates for various offices. One of the students during a break asked me "How do I get to do what you do?" It is not an uncommon question and I always have to chuckle a bit when I get it.

In 1996 my first campaign "job" was yard sign guy. That's right, I was the guy with the rusty '85 Chevy S-10 who drove around with no air conditioning with a neighborhood map, list of locations and 50 signs in the back. I had just gotten out of the Marines and was working a retail job. Angela and I did not have any kids yet so we had lots of time. We had just moved to South Bend Indiana and had no clue where anything was. So with no GPS I learned about every neighborhood in Northern Indiana while putting up yard signs for a doomed congressional campaign. The primary came in May and my guy got trounced by State Senator Joe Zakas. In the small world that is professional politics, ironically, the guy who managed the Zakas for Congress campaign who won the primary but later lost the general election was none other than Steve Schmidt who would become more famous in 2008 running McCain's campaign for President.

Despite the loss in the primary I was even more eager to continue full time volunteering for a campaign. My next gig was campaign "coordinator" for a state senate campaign. What is a coordinator? Well, it was whatever the candidate needed. I walked a LOT of doors, got chased by a few dogs, organized press conferences, recruited volunteers and put up even more yard signs. Again, election day came and I was disappointed to see my candidate lose. It was only later I figured out how some districts are real long shots based on gerrymandering.

So I was 0-2…but people kept asking me to get more and more involved on campaigns? Was I lucky? Obviously not, as I still had not been associated with a winning campaign. People still wanted my help because I did whatever was asked of me, did not complain and did every job assigned as if that job was "make or break" for the candidate. I was young and inexperienced enough to believe that everyone approached campaign volunteer work this way.

So how do you get a job in politics? Hard work on whatever job is given to you is the best answer. Now, I am not going to try and tell you that knowing the "right" people is not important. Networking is crucial to success in jobs in politics. The good news is even if you are a guy who never went to college, never was a CR, doesn't know anyone in DC and lived in a "fly-over" state you can still out-work other people with more advantages to end up with a great series of jobs and eventually a consultant.

Do you have a "Rabbi" or "sugar-Daddy"? There are a million different ways to describe this relationship. Is there a senior person in politics (elected official, consultant, chief-of-staff, etc) who knows you and likes you? It is a little known fact that most consultants seek out junior people to develop and place on campaigns. Do we always do it out of the goodness of our hearts? Most of the time, personally, I just like to see the right people get plugged into a job that fits them on a campaign. Now, if they end up in a position where they need some mail then, of course, my hope is that they call me.

How do you limit your potential and ensure being passed over for jobs on political campaigns? That is, actually, pretty easy. Follow these simple steps:

  • Insist on being involved in a "senior" position right away.
  • Only work hard on the "important stuff".
  • Blab to the press or other people about internal campaign stuff.
  • Do something illegal.
  • Lie.
  • Complain to the candidate or anyone else that you are not being given important stuff to do.

Good luck on your job search. If you are looking currently I would HIGHLY recommend a profile on and let me know if I can help.


Chris Faulkner

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why the GOP needs a (free) Twitter

Twitter really is addicting.

In my pre-Faulkner Strategies days, I wandered the sidewalks of my college campus, pointing my finger and laughing at those social media elitists “tweeting” away on their crackberries. Silly kids, Twitter is for old people, I thought.

So wrong.

A coworker forced me to make a Twitter account 3 hours into my first day of work. I grimaced, sucked it up, and made an account. Since that day, I’ve traveled far and wide in the Twitterland universe, hacking hashtags and conversing with complete strangers. But alas, my journey of Twitter happiness may come to an abrupt end soon.

At a recent media summit at the Sun Valley resort, Twitter rumors ran wild. Although the summit was closed to the media (ironic), it was leaked that the media gurus discussed the possibility of Twitter charging their users for the service.

Bad idea.

The fee to use Twitter probably wouldn’t be real high. But we’d see a decrease in the number of young Twitter users. Which could mean bad things for the Twitter world. And , I believe, bad things for the Republican Party.

Obama captivated the majority of young voters in 2008. He was everywhere: on TV, in college newspapers, and even on college campuses. His presence on the Internet helped young people relate to him. The Republican Party hasn’t done much to appeal to the young voting population – until now.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows users to follow celebrities and high-profile politicians. And, not surprisingly, young people are eager to do so. According to a recent survey by Pace University, 54 percent of young Twitter users follow famous individuals.

So what does this have to do with the Republican Party?

According to a February Washington Times article, the Republicans seem to “finally get it” when it comes to using new media. At the time of publishing, 49 of 219 Repubs in Congress were Tweeting, compared with 27 of 317 Democrats. Other high-profile Republicans, such as Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Newt Gingrich are also daily users. The GOP presence on Twitter provides the Party with something it hasn’t had thus far: a direct link to the young population. Their 140-character spin-free messages quickly reach readers, and provide them with an inside look at the politicians’ thoughts. The use of this innovative technology is priceless for Republicans, who young people often view as “old” and “out-of-touch” with the times.

If Twitter remains a free tool (for the sake of my attention span in lecture, let’s hope it does), Republicans have the potential to increase their popularity among young voters. Since utilizing Twitter is the most youthful thing the GOP has done since Sarah Palin had a baby, this is a big deal.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Early Years: Making the Most out of Campaign Events

My boss (Chris Faulkner) isn’t always a chatty person in the office. But this week, I got the pleasure of listening to him talk for 15 full minutes on his latest podcast, “The Early Years: Making the Most out of Campaign Events”. By listening to it, I learned more in 15 minutes than I did in an entire semester’s worth of “Elections 2008”. Then again, I didn’t expect to learn much when I realized my professor was incapable of moving past his slides plastered with Sarah Palin photographs. Sick old man.

But seriously – take a few minutes out of your day and listen in.

Chris offers a step-by-step way to improve the “usual” campaign event strategy. He talks about the importance of what can be taken away from an event. Sure, coming in and firing up the crowd is important, he says, but that fire will cool off soon after the event ends. To be successful, a candidate must have a system in place at the event to churn up support afterward. Nothing butta’ than that. (Laugh.) To do that, utilizing volunteers effectively is necessary.

Campaigns shouldn’t just blindly herd a group of volunteers. Rather, assigning specific responsibilities will produce better results, he says. For example, Chris talks about creating a “bumper sticker team” (not to be confused with Bloomington liberals). The team will be at events, armed with campaign bumper stickers, Windex, and paper towels. As people exit (and when enthusiasm is high), the volunteers can ask the drivers if they’d be okay with having a bumper sticker on the back of their vehicles. This way, the bumper stickers actually end up on cars and not small children’s t-shirts. And, as we all know, car travel is much faster (and therefore effective) than kid travel. Unless your child is a Transformer.

The bumper sticker team is just one of Chris’s suggestions. Listen to the rest of the podcast to learn how to gain contact information from prospective voters and volunteers and how to engage event attendees with some simple photography.

To hear more of Chris’s suggestions, you can download his podcast on iTunes (search for Chris Faulkner) or by going to

Cubs' PR is Pretty Ridiculous

When you’re in baseball, you can get away with saying a lot more than the average person.

Last month, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella singlehandedly demonstrated the need for better PR management in the sporting industry.

Rather than trying to accurately convey the idiotic statements by Lou, I’ll let his “words of wisdom” do the job:

(6/27) "Look, I'm 66 years old. I feel like 68." (Lou is actually 65.)

(6/26) "Look, I have smoked dope one time in my life. And it didn't do a damn thing for me, and I never tried it again. I'm fortunate because of that. A lot of people do. You can even buy it in California from a pharmacy.”

(6/17) "What do I need to show fire for? I'm not a dragon."

(6/17) “I wouldn’t know a steroid from a reefer.”

I’m all for letting the old man speak for himself. It’s important to show fans an honest image of their team’s head honcho. But someone needs to lay down some ground rules before Piniella admits that he has no idea what he’s doing (because, as the Cubs’ record shows, he doesn’t.)

As he should be, Lou continually tries to take the fall for his team’s mistakes off the field. Geovany Soto admitted to using marijuana, so Lou admits it, too. Sammy Sosa gets outed for steroid usage (duh?), and Lou tries to cover it up with his own lack of street smarts.

But apparently no one’s told the longtime manager that his team is terrible, and that he needs to be taking some of the blame for their pathetic performance on the field. Rarely does Lou admit he did something wrong (which I guess is difficult to do, considering he doesn’t actually do ANYTHING).

Lou’s own pride is part of the problem. But the Cubs’ public relations staff needs to remind Lou that his first priority is what happens on the field. And also that the term “reefer” went out a long time ago. Until that happens, Lou will continue to serve as an example for the entire sporting industry (or, arguably, the world) of what not to say to the media. Let his words be a reminder of the importance of good public relations management for all industries.

For more examples of bad PR, check out Carrie Muskat’s articles on Instead of answering fan’s questions directly, she makes jokes and tells riddles. It’s good stuff.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sidewalk Campaigns

“9/11 was a HOAX.”

“Barack Obama kills babies.”

“McCain SUCKS!”

These are just a few of the messages I subconsciously noticed last fall as I walked the sidewalks of Indiana University. Our student body, like many across the country, has a fascination with “chalking”. This rather childish marketing technique involves hoarding together as many students as you can, bribing them with Chipotle, and herding them around campus to spread their message via sidewalk chalk.

Political groups especially seem to love the chalking experience. IU’s College Democrats organization even includes chalking in the description of their public relations efforts. The hippies are apparently so confident in Obama’s socialist health care plan that they’re willing to jump the gun on back arthritis. Sadly, my accidental water bottle spill over one pink-and-yellow “HOPE” chalking didn’t seem to have an impact on the Dem’s work; Obama is almost bigger than Bobby Knight down there.

One must wonder whether the chalking technique is an effective one. Unless you’re Barack himself and walk with your nose in the air, at least some of the messages naturally seep into the brain. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I don’t know. I wonder how many easily-influenced (and perhaps stupid) students started questioning the events of 9/11 after walking to class.

Chalking is cheap, easy, and could be fun (after a bar crawl, maybe). But when everyone’s doing it, the clutter becomes a problem. At times last year, our sidewalks were literally packed with pastel-colored slogans and meeting times. It was a little like the internet, without a bookmarking system in place. Scary.

Let’s hope this type of communication stays on campuses. Twitter seems to serve as a better outlet for people to share ideas or market products. Plus, if chalking ever did get hot, it wouldn’t rain enough to keep overzealous Kool-aid drinkers off the streets.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Facebook Trumps Unemployment

After witnessing my 51-year-old father curse out Facebook when it failed to find all of his old girlfriends, I doubt the social media fascination will ever fully extend to all generations. However, Facebook is tremendously useful for a lot of things when you’re young.

Rather than dealing with the awful business of conversation, Facebook stalking allows you to follow every second of your friends’ lives. When you’re in need of an insult, memorizing and reciting (mockingly) another’s profile quotes in front of a large group of people seems to do the trick. And, most importantly, keeping up on sorority gossip is made simple with the provided message function (which comes without a spell check function – perfect for maintaining the ultrahigh Greek ego.)

But one 23-year-old managed to tap into a new (and actually useful) way to use the social media outlet. Yonnick Hammond, used Facebook to trump unemployment and land a job in politics. He made a Facebook ad, which was shown alongside profile pages on the site.

“When I had thought of the ad, I was over three months into unemployment,” says the former RNC staffer and legislative assistant to Rep. Henry Brown Jr. (R-S.C.). “When I applied for jobs, my resume and portfolio would get buried under literally hundreds of other resumes.

Hammond knew he had to do something creative to make himself stand out from the young and eager masses waiting in line for jobs on the Hill. After learning how to create effective online ads through a friend’s consulting shop, Yonnick put his skills to the test.

“I figured if I can receive ads urging me to ‘meet hot young singles’ in my area, I can use an ad to sell myself to employers.”

Yonnick says he was overwhelmed by the reaction to the ad. By looking at Facebook reports, he learned that 166 people clicked on the ad within four days of its creation. Others messaged him through Facebook with encouragement or praise for his innovative use of technology.

“I found that both younger and older people were very receptive,” he says.
However, Yonnick targeted the ad for people in their mid-to-late twenties. He said he felt that audience would be most likely to hire him because they’ve already established themselves professionally. The pin-pointing was obviously successful; Yonnick is now working for the Republican Party of Virginia as their Absentee Ballot Director.

Despite his struggles, Yonnick doesn’t believe young Republicans looking for work should stay away from DC. However, he does think recent college grads should be prepared to take a different route to their preferred job.

“The best advice I can tell anyone who is trying to find a job is to roll up your sleeves and be willing to work, even if it’s not your ideal job.”

Monday, June 8, 2009

Keep it simple, stupid.

Super Bowl commercials have become increasingly lame over the last few years. This year’s game featured only one commercial I found worth my time.

The entire second I dedicated to the Miller High Life commercial was the best second of the entire night (I hate the Steelers).

I had heard about the ad on the radio, and stayed glued to my screen to make sure I didn’t miss it. Sure enough, the trademark Miller High Life guy (Windell Middlebrooks) eventually popped up on the screen, and yelled, “High Life!” The ad really was just one second. If I had blinked, I may have missed it. But the uniqueness of the advertisement and the simplicity of it stuck with me long after I had finished trash-talking Big Ben.

If you pay attention to the advertisements and marketing pieces you notice, you’ll find a common trend: simplicity sells. Making eye-catching promotions requires attention to the eye’s capabilities. Long, drawn-out commercials often get muted. Visually complex billboards get blurred out or overlooked. And wordy writing gets ignored. (I could go off on a rant about exclamation points and the uselessness of them, but I’ll save that for another day.)

Does this mean all TV commercials should be reduced to a mere second in length? Probably not. But it does mean the marketing community needs to refrain from overcomplicating messages.

This is especially true in the direct mail business. Most people will assume your mail piece is just another piece of junk mail. A simple message that’s easy to find will help your readers pay attention. A mail piece that’s visually cluttered will tend to be automatically avoided. No one has time to search for the message. Take a look at Faulkner Strategies’ portfolio to see some examples of visually simple yet effective mail.

Here’s some examples of visually-simplified marketing that works – and visually-complicated marketing that doesn’t:

Bad: 2009 Toyota Prius commercial: This ad reflects what I picture when I listen to my mother reminisce about her experiences in the 60’s (mixed with some Across the Universe clips.) There’s way too much going on visually to focus on the car. However, the childlike unrealism of this ad helps explain why all Priuses are plastered with Obama bumper stickers.

Good: Compared to, it’s much more visually clean. Don’t let your 3rd grade art teacher’s lessons confuse you: white space is necessary. The simplicity of this search engine giant makes it more mobile accessible, too.

Awesome: The fact that The Office is my favorite show doesn’t bias my positive critique of its marketing. The very essence of the show is simplicity: there’s no absurd settings (except maybe Dwight’s beet farm), the plots are rather ordinary, and the characters themselves are, well, simple-minded.

NBC has capitalized on this simplicity with an equally simple marketing scheme. The TV commercials are full of short sound bites. The fan gear is usually black-and-white. And the photos used to promote the show are almost as plain as Pam’s wardrobe. But it all works.

Don’t let visual possibilities overwhelm your marketing message. Yes, Photoshop does allow you to tie-dye every aspect of a print design in a different shade of blue. No, you should not do this (unless you’re attempting to bring back Eiffel 65’s 1998 hit, “I’m Blue”. If so, carry on. That song still rocks.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Multisensory marketing: cool or creepy?

Despite the oodles of creativity marketers try to force out of their brains, advertising has a common trend. Around 80% of brand advertising is done through visual or audio means. Appealing to only two senses obviously puts the average advertiser at a disadvantage. But it’s difficult for most brands to even attempt to come up with a way to appeal to the other senses.

Difficult, but not impossible. Businesses have attempted multisensory marketing approaches. Some are successful (or at least cool), while others are… well… just plain weird.

I’m compiled a list of a few multisensory marketing strategies – the cool, the stupid, and the creepy.

Cool: Earlier this month, a company called Grasshopper developed a clever rebranding plan by taking its new name literally. The virtual switchboard and voice mail provider sent out packages of chocolate covered grasshoppers to their chosen top 5,000 influential marketers. The lumpy packages had an attached tag with a link to a video explaining the marketing campaign. This idea quickly turned into a viral marketing success, as it was all over Twitter and Facebook in a matter of days. (The only thing more disgusting than eating grasshoppers is the OCD Twitter habit the top 5,000 marketers share.)

Read more about this campaign here.

Creepy: Brotherhood Bank, based in Kansas City, Kansas, states on their website that “handshakes, smiles, and warm greetings are liberally distributed at all our facilities.” And they mean it. Workers must shake the hand of all customers entering the building. However, Marketing Director Steve Hale says, most of the better-known customers get a warm hug from their banker. He proudly claims the bank is “built on touch”.

That’s just weird. Who goes to the bank to get hugged? And since when are bankers considered even remotely nice people? I’m pretty sure Deal or No Deal forever crushed that dream. Hypochondria aside, even Howie would never touch the banker.

Stupid: Last year, Lee Myung-bak, President of South Korea, decided to use a department store trick and in his campaign strategy. A perfume called “Great Korea” was developed especially for his run for president. The scent was supposed to represent feelings of hope, victory, and passion. The perfume was secretly sprayed at public gatherings, and was then sprayed again at the polling booths to trigger the voters’ memory.

The political world should refrain from stealing ideas from Abercrombie and Fitch. If we’re not careful, soon we’ll be displaying wall-sized photos of half-naked politicians at rallies.

And though I find it difficult to believe the tactic was actually successful, it does help me rationalize Obama’s victory. I’m assuming his perfume was of a similar make, and inspired feelings of hope, change, and stupidity.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Delta really wants me to keep flying Southwest...

I don't really want to be a hater but I am left with few options. I was on a Delta flight about a month ago and left my iPod in the pocket on the seat in front of me. Ok, completely my fault and I take full blame. As I am in baggage claim I realize my mistake and ask a Delta agent to help. She is somewhat friendly and proceeds to go back on the plane to look for it. No luck, it is gone.

So while waiting for my bags I call Delta to report it as missing in the hopes someone turns it in. When I get home I go online and report it as well. I then get on Twitter, find @deltaairlines and tweet them several times.

A week goes by with no response...on any communications medium.

So I call and email again.

Three weeks go by, then I get this...

Dear Mr. Faulkner,

Thank you for contacting us through We are sorry for the delay in responding to your message. (hey, if you are going to be on Twitter then BE available on Twitter. See @southwestair on how it is done right)

Unchecked articles that are turned in to Delta are held in our Lost & Found office for a period of time, awaiting owner identification. At the end of that time, they are salvaged and we are unable to retrieve them. Therefore, we would no longer have your property in our possession. (so you take almost a month to get back to me to tell me how to reclaim but THEN tell me it is too late to claim????)

Thank you for writing. We appreciate your selection of Delta and look forward to serving you whenever your plans call for air travel. (no sweat, I will fly Delta again when I absolutely positively have no choice)

Aaryn ------ (I blocked the last name as I don't want to smear an individual who just happens to work for an airline with crappy customer service)
Claims Manager
Central Baggage Service

To whom it may concern at Delta - I look forward to driving an hour and a half to a different airport just so I can fly Southwest. I am going to be doing at least 40 more round trips this year so I will let you do the math on that and figure out what good customer service really costs.


Chris Faulkner

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The NRSC markets dirty

The NRSC is up to something that is a little strange in Washington these days…

They paid off their debt. “Every last nickel” of it, they say. Though the committee inherited $4.9 million at the beginning of the year, they’ve overcome their financial burden. The NRSC believes they’ll be the first of the Hill committees to erase their debt. At the end of March, the DSCC had $10.86 million, the DCCC had $8 million..

Though these results may simply be a reflection of the NRSC’s pledge to financial responsibility, I think there’s something more happening here.

The NRSC knows how to play – and market - dirty. Their appeal to donators is just bloody better than the other Hill committees (literally).

Upon visiting the NRSC site, a pop-up advertisement instantly appears, blocking out the content on the site itself and blocking out any trace of optimistic, go-team-go thoughts you may have held. The impending block of black, highly reminiscent of an America’s Most Wanted poster, features a grayscale picture of Arlen Specter. In blood-colored text, the pop-up reads, “Support the NRSC and Stand up Against Former Republican Arlen Specter”. A contribute button is below, taking visitors to a page where they can donate to the NRSC.

With a clever marketing scheme and some relatively simple graphic design techniques, the NRSC has successfully made Specter appear as evil as Voldermort. Seven books later, a lot of Americans are itching for some Harry Potter-like glory… no wonder the NRSC got out of debt.

The other committees should jump on board. The DCCC has resorted to raffling off their Party’s greatest prize: Obama. Contributors who donate automatically get a chance at winning a pass to a June gathering, where Democrats from all over the country will get together to celebrate Obama’s first 100 days.

The site also claims Speaker Pelosi will be attending the event. Judging by the raffle’s minimum required donation ($5), I’m guessing the DCCC is expecting Pelosi to “forget” about this, too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Social Media Throwdown

A form of media has finally evolved that’s able to keep up with the pace of business: social media. Though quite a few forms have popped up in the last year or so, Twitter and Facebook continue to be the most popular.

To many Americans, these two sites are uttered in the same breath. For some, it’s one or the other. Quite a few college students who helped birth the Facebook giant view Twitter as a threat to their precious networking site. “Tweeting”, on campus, is often viewed upon as an infectious disease; no more harmful than the swine flu, but every bit as annoying.

Though America’s student body has yet to fully grasp onto Twitter like they did to Facebook, the business world is taking a different approach. Facebook is utilized, but it’s not as popular as Twitter. Why? It’s not as effective for online marketing purposes. Here’s why:

• Facebook is full of information. Most users have extensive profile information on their sites, ranging from hometown to Favorite TV shows. The personalization possibilities appeal to the non-business users. But the parts of the Facebook profile that would be most useful for businesses– statuses, groups, and work descriptions – are small pieces of the puzzle, hidden in a mess of personal (and sometimes, just plain useless) information.

Twitter, on the other hand, is solely about current statuses. (For those of you unfamiliar with the site, it’s basically made up of the “updates” you can post on Facebook). Businesses can post tweets all day about their products, their staff, etc. – without boring readers with the unnecessary. Twitter even limits tweet length to 140 characters, forcing the user to use a straightforward approach.

• Twitter’s straightforward approach makes it better for direct communication between businesses and individuals. Users are more likely to respond to your tweets with feedback or answers to your questions because there’s no indirect communication forms to distract them. Facebook users will often get caught up in photo albums or other wall postings and forget the initial reason they visited your page.

• The newsfeed that Facebook users check for new content is limited to their base of “friends”. Until a business has either accepted a friend request or added a friend themselves, another user cannot view their status updates. The process to add all potential customers is lengthy, and besides, most users aren’t willing to search for any and all people who may be interested in their products.

• Twitter offers a better approach to networking possibilities. Though your main newsfeed is made up of users you “follow” (done with a click of a button), “hashtags” allow your Tweets to be viewed by anyone, regardless of whether you’re following him or her. Interestingly, the hashtag trend wasn’t started by Twitter (some crafty users figured it out). By learning some simple abbreviations, and fitting them into your tweet, you can post your status onto feeds of other users who use the same hashtag. Therefore, you can effectively target your message to people with similar interests.

For example, the hashtag #tcot (top conservatives on Twitter) unites conservative bloggers who wish to interact with other conservatives using the site.

Though you don’t need to follow your fellow hashtaggers, using the feature ends up narrowing down the Twitter population to those users you’d most want to interact with, anyway.

• Twitter’s more mobile friendly. Facebook phone applications tend to be slow. On Twitter, all you really have to do is update your status, which is as simple as a text message. Those with Blackberries (and even those without – the Verizon application is pretty handy) can Tweet quickly.

Put some thought into your social media decisions. Both sites offer useful features, but both have the potential to waste time if not used correctly. And if you’re a college-minded individual who’s vowed to stay away from the Twitter universe, rethink your decision. It’s not that bad.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Governor Daniels of Indiana Smacks Down Baby Boomers

Governor Daniels of Indiana is not an easy guy to figure out. He confuses members of the press and political people of both parties. Why you ask? Because he is a leader.

In these times of GOP doldrums when we do see someone who bucks the conventional wisdom and easy path, it is so uncommon it usually confounds us.

Case in point: The Butler University commencement speech of 2009. A nice safe, warm and fuzzy send off for the graduating class right? Wrong, more like a 2x4 to the collective face of baby boomers who, quite frankly, deserve it. Read some excerpts from this incredible speech below.

"As a 10-year-old, new to Indiana, Butler basketball was about the only entertainment our family was able, or at least willing, to purchase for me. On countless frigid evenings, someone's dad would drop us off in the Fieldhouse parking lot, and someone else's dad would pick us up, after watching the Bulldogs either beat or scare the pants off some big-name larger school.  I might stumble over my own college's fight song, but I still know yours by heart."

Hey, it is Indiana so of course it is going to open with basketball. He went to Princeton so who can blame him for loving Butler athletics.

Even though the whole notion of a "generation" must be discounted as the loosest of concepts, within limits it is possible to spot the defining characteristics of an age and the human beings who create it.  Along with most of your faculty and parents, I belong to the most discussed, debated and analyzed generation of all time, the so-called Baby Boomers.  By the accepted definition, the youngest of us is now forty-five, so the record is pretty much on the books, and the time for verdicts can begin. Which leads me to congratulate you in advance.  As a generation, you are off to an excellent start.  You have taken the first savvy step on the road to distinction, which is to follow a weak act.  I wish I could claim otherwise, but we Baby Boomers are likely to be remembered by history for our numbers, and little else, at least little else that is admirable. 


All our lives, it's been all about us. We were the "Me Generation."  We wore t-shirts that said "If it feels good, do it."  The year of my high school commencement, a hit song featured the immortal lyric "Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today."  As a group, we have been self-centered, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, and all too often just plain selfish.  Our current Baby Boomer President has written two eloquent, erudite books, both about..himself. As a generation, we did tend to live for today.  We have spent more and saved less than any previous Americans.  Year after year, regardless which party we picked to lead the country, we ran up deficits that have multiplied the debt you and your children will be paying off your entire working lives.  Far more burdensome to you mathematically, we voted ourselves increasing levels of Social Security pensions and Medicare health care benefits, but never summoned the political maturity to put those programs on anything resembling a sound actuarial footing. 

At this point the squirming in seats of the parents section must have been almost audible.

Our irresponsibility went well beyond the financial realm.  Our parents formed families and kept them intact even through difficulty "for the sake of the kids."   To us, parental happiness came first; we often divorced at the first unpleasantness, and increasingly just gave birth to children without the nuisance of marriage.  "Commitment" cramps one's style, don't you know.  Total bummer.

Let no uncomfortable topic go untouched.

As time runs out on our leadership years, it's clear there is no chance that anyone will ever refer to us, as histories now do our parents, as "The Greatest Generation."  There is no disgrace in this; very few generations are thought of as "great."  And history is not linear.  Many generations fail miserably at the challenges they confront, and their societies take steps backwards as a consequence.  Consider Japan before World War II, or Americans in the decades before the Civil War. And yet in both those instances and many others, the people who followed did great things, not only redeemed all the failings but built better, fairer societies than their nations had seen before.  In fact, true greatness can only be revealed by large challenges, by tough circumstances.  And your opportunities for greatness will be large.

Your generation can be great…especially compared to your parents.

And please, just to revise another current practice, be judgmental.  Whatever they claim, people always are, anyway - consider the healthy stigmatization of racist comments or sexist attitudes or cigarette smoking.  It's just a matter of which behaviors enough of us agree to judge as unacceptable.  As free people, we agree to tolerate any conduct that does no harm to others, but we should not be coerced into condoning it. Selfishness and irresponsibility in business, personal finances, or in family life, are deserving of your disapproval.  Go ahead and stigmatize them. Too much such behavior will hurt our nation and the future for you and the families you will create. Honesty about shortcomings is not handwringing.  Again, this is a blessed land, in every way.  Amidst the worst recession in a long time, we still are wealthier than any society in history.  We are safer, from injury, disease, and each other than any humans that ever lived.  Best of all, we are free.  The problems you now inherit are not those of 1776, or 1861, or 1929, or 1941.  But they are large enough, and left unattended, they will devour the wealth and, ultimately, the freedom and safety we cherish, at least in our thankful moments.  So you have a chance to be a great Butler class, part of a great generation.

Take that political correctness.

In a brief, intelligent yet straight forward head shot the Governor has done what almost no one in Government, media or certainly academia has had the stones to do…lay guilt where it belongs.

A lot of my friends keep asking me if this guy is going to run for President and I just say "he is doing too good a job as Governor for us to spare him." But of course doing your current job really really well is a great way to get promoted.

You can read the entire speech here.

Chris Faulkner






Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Should you be angry at the “Republican Party” about backing Specter before he bailed on us?

The short answer is no. The "why not" is a little more complex. There will be some who will now be angry at Sen. Cornyn and the National Republican Senatorial Committee for backing him in the first place. Really? Keep in mind the RNC, NRSC and the NRCC are NOT issue driven organizations. They are member driven organizations with only ONE goal…majority status, that's it, no other reason for being.

Before I get too academic in my defense of these organizations let me say that Linc Chafee is a scumbag and it made me sick to my core that we defended that waste of space in the 2006 GOP Primary. Ok, had to get that off my chest. I mean at least Specter had the decency to get out before the election and give us time to get our own campaign in place.

Now back to the Party. Just a bit of clarification for those not familiar with the committees in DC and how they work. These definitions are my own and in NO way represent any official mission of the committees…this is my "unofficial" take on what they really are all about-

  • Republican National Committee – take the White House back and keep it…that is it…end of story.
  • National Republican Senatorial Committee – defend current Republican Senators, win open seats and then knock off Democrat incumbents. Those are listed in order of priority.
  • National Republican Congressional Committee – defend current Republican Members of Congress, win open seats and knock off Democrat incumbents. Those are listed in order of priority.

So any of you want the committee to be ideologically pure you should cool your jets. They are not think tanks, they are membership retention organizations. If you are mad at the NRSC for backing Specter in the first place call you own Senator and yell at him/her.

Is the RNC not conservative enough for you? Then check your state party. State Party too liberal for you? Work your county party.

Tis’ the season of our collective Republican discontent and the party apparatus is a convenient punching bag. Here is the real lurking danger…Years ago Democrats were angry that their National Party because it was not “Progressive” enough so their unions, lawyers and environmental groups hammered it to splinters. Now they are a collective lurching group of special interests.

Is that what we really want for Republicans?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Changes at Faulkner Strategies

At the end of April, Annie Palisi, a key player here at Faulkner Strategies, will be heading to Iraq. Annie will be taking a "leave of absence" from Faulkner Strategies for approximately one year to go to Iraq and help work with a democracy program.  This past winter, Annie spent some time in there, training and supporting democracy missions. She will be returning to continue much needed work.

Annie will be missed very much, but we are all very proud of her. We wish her safe travels and best of luck with all her work in Iraq. Our gratitude goes out to men and women, like Annie, who have decided to try and help build a stable society in the Middle East.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Some thoughts on a quality GOTV operation

I had some quality time walking door-to-door recently in NY20 to think about how most Republican campaigns approach GOTV. "Most" is a broad statement and I realize many of you work campaigns in areas where some of the theories I will discuss are not relevant. It is also important to consider the myriad of variables that affect a GOTV operation in preparation and execution.

So, just for the sake of conversation, we were talking about a general election where turnout was expected to be between 50-55%. You could take the approach that in a district where you had a partisan registration advantage it would be all about base R turnout (assuming your candidate is winning most of the R's). Let's say had already done your homework and had identified about 15% of the independents as favorable (presumably by a combination of volunteer and paid efforts). Let us also make another assumption that your candidate has a reasonable amount of local volunteers, Generation Joshua kids and maybe a few out-of-state partisans to execute your GOTV plan.

Lets say you had a 5 day GOTV plan laid out (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Election day). What to consider next-

  • You would sort precincts into walkable and non-walkable for your door-to-door.
  • Locations for phone banks. Keep in mind that the best place for phone banks is WHERE the volunteers are and probably not WHERE the press is. This would explain why some of the best GOTV phone bank centers are not at the Campaign HQ.
  • Lists. Have you been using voter vault or something else? Make sure you have easy access and can print new lists and conduct new sorts based on a changing political situation.
  • Campaign literature, paper, pens, clipboards, etc. When and where will you print these thousands of sheets of paper for calls and doors? FLS has great walkbook product I like that prints the list on card stock paper with a corresponding map. Of course if you have the volunteer resources you can just do it yourself with some card stock paper and 3 ring binders. Regardless if you pay for it or do it yourself I would strongly suggest a reusable book system that allows a volunteer to make notes and improve the list as they go. Make all literature is precinct specific reminding people of the street address of their actual polling location with hours of operation. This is the MOST important piece of info most people need on election day.
  • Food, stickers, t-shirts, etc. Have enough to keep your volunteers motivated but not so much that it is more than 15% of your total GOTV budget.

Then would take your list of R's and favorable Independents and put them into 3 groups, A's, B's and C's.

  • A's will be our rockstars who vote in EVERY election no matter what.
  • B's are our Presidential voters who often skip primaries and off year elections.
  • C's are our new registrants and least likely voters.

Assuming we have enough lines and volunteers we will start with C universe on Friday. When complete we will then call the B's and C's. When that is done we will call the A's B's and C's. So our weakest voters will get 3 touches and our strongest one.

For door-to-door let's assume that we can get people to drink the Kool-Aid and do multiple shifts over the 5 days. Ideally we would pair local volunteers with out-of town ones to prevent mistakes and getting lost. Then on Friday when they began going door-to-door they will be keeping the same list document over the course of each day.

  • So if Bob the local volunteer is paired up with Heather the out-of-town volunteer on Friday they walk their precinct keeping notes on who they talked to, who needs an extra push (maybe even a call from the candidate) and who has already voted early or absentee. They also touch base at the phonebank to see who called their precinct and compare notes.
  • On Saturday Bob coaches football and has to cut his grass so Heather from out of town is paired with someone else but she now has the list and first hand experience with the precinct.
  • Sunday Bob is back with Heather as they continue looking to contact people they missed on Friday and Saturday. They are now gliding thru the precinct efficiently skipping the hostiles and touch base again with the undecideds.
  • Monday Bob has to work but Heather is still on the trail and working with a new volunteer hitting houses and firming up C list voters. Heather is now on a first name basis with some of the voters in their precinct and she has a great list that is full of notes and updates.
  • Tuesday Bob is back with Heather with their list in the neighborhood by mid morning. Meanwhile Connie (another local volunteer has been at the polling site for their precinct since it opened. She has kept a list of all who have voted and during lulls she texts their voter ID number to Heather. As Heather and Bob walk the precinct they strike names of those that have voted to improve the efficiency of their list. They are ratcheting up turnout and increasing the GOP margin by a couple of points.

At this point of course I have only covered the traditional methods. I would assume that emails, texts, Facebook events etc are going on concurrently with this operation. The important thing to remember is that

Most GOTV operations I have seen have failed not because of lack of volunteers or lack of cash but lack of thorough planning. All of the things I have covered are not rocket science or overly complex they just require planning and follow thru.

On Tuesday this week as I headed to grab a coke on a break between precincts I happened to drive by the community center where the precinct was voting. I saw a man walking in that I had woken up from his nap. While talking to him at his door I clearly got the impression that voting was not a priority today. To see him walking into those doors to vote made all my work worth it. When Jim Tedisco is sworn into Congress later this month it will REALLY be worth it.

How would you approach your "ideal" GOTV plan?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Inside Scoop on NY 20

I am beat.

I walked precincts all day for Jim Tedisco and when the polls closed I thought I could head to the party…but then things went awry. In the next 13 days political communications will play as important a role as the legal fight and I want you to know the facts.

  • The election is NOT over. There are still over 4,000 absentee ballots that have not been returned which totaled with the 6,000 already received would be almost 10,000 absentee ballots that have NOT been counted. These ballots will continue to be accepted until April. 13th. ANY premature counting of votes will, basically, be counting BEFORE the voting is over…and that is just wrong.
  • Jim Tedisco is currently trailing Scott Murphy by 59 votes according to machine tallies. NOTICE I did not say ballots. NY 20 uses old school level machines to vote so there is NO "ballot" to count. Votes are tabulated on the machine as people pull levers. Most of these machines are probably older than me.
  • The results you saw tonight were nothing more than the UNofficial notes of whichever random poll worker transcribed results from the machine to the form that they report to the Board of Elections. It is fair to say that these numbers are often riddled with mistakes as people mix up numbers and read the wrong tallies.


With memories of Washington State 2004 and Minnesota 2008 looming in my mind here are some things to consider.


  • Jim Tedisco will win the absentee vote.
  • The only way Scott Murphy can win is too challenge and disqualify absentee and military ballots that will, most likely, be votes for Jim Tedisco.
  • Scott Murphy is so anti-military he tried to stop Harvard from having a ROTC program on campus while he was a student there and prevent military personnel from teaching classes. Knowing that, it is hard to imagine military members voting for him.


It's 3:23 AM so forgive the horrible grammar and even worse sentence structure.


Chris Faulkner


P.S. Somehow I knew wearing my "Coleman Recount Team" polar fleece today was a bad idea …


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I am not a Ron Paul hater…really

I was teaching a candidate school recently in Minnesota and wandered into some dangerous territory. Our firm is often hired to do political education and one of our bigger clients is American Majority We teach several sessions that focus on Communications, Campaign Plans, Fundraising, Social Media and Grassroots Organizing (all ppts are available to download and steal here SlideShare )

The last session of the day focuses on Grassroots Organizing Online and Offline. One of the themes I present is how most grassroots movements are viral and require a "host". I then go on to say that Ron Paul was too weak of a "host" to carry his "movement". Full disclosure – I was a mail vendor for Fred Thompson's campaign (that is a whole other discussion) and I did not support Ron Paul. Having said that, I was constantly intrigued by his supporters and his "movement". I work in the business of political campaigns and like to think I am a student of how they work on a logistics and business end. So for the purposes of this post lets skip by issues and just talk nuts and bolts.

First I have to take a dig at my strident Libertarian friends who loved Dr. Paul – learn a lesson from him

  1. Run as a Libertarian for Congress and lose
  2. Run as a Republican for Congress and win
  3. Run as a Republican for President and get to take the stage, be in the debates and air your issues

(**CORRECTION** thanks to my observant friend Steve from Minnesota I stand corrected. Dr. Paul was Republican Member of Congress from 1976 to '85. He then ran for President in 1988 as a Libertarian. He then returned to Congress in 1996 as a Republican. I was wrong and I repent. However I think it would be fair to say that he ran for Congress in 1996 as Republican because he knew he would not win if he ran as a Libertarian.)

Pretty safe to say no one is accusing Dr. Paul of "selling out" even though he ran as a Republican. I can already feel the hate that point is going to draw…

Moving on, Dr. Paul raised over $34 million dollars of which over 99% came from individual small donors. This is a supremely impressive feat for a guy who, candidly, has below average public speaking ability, no message discipline, fairly inexperienced campaign organization and barely eked into double digits in most public polling. So his campaign was obviously not as much about the "product" of the candidate. He benefited from a couple powerful motivators;

  1. A disgruntled and angry free-market fiscal conservative base
  2. A weak field of Republican options for President
  3. A core Libertarian group that was already online

$34 million, unfortunately, is still not enough to get serious traction in a modern Presidential Primary. That is compounded by the fact that his campaign spent almost 50% of their cash on "Administrative" expenses. That is just unacceptable. Barely a third of the dollars spent went towards actual voter contact. Ok, now all my grassroots friends can holler and say "of course that is what an evil money grubbing political consultant would say!" But folks let's get real, modern campaigns are not small mom and pop businesses any more…especially ones for President. They can start that way but at some point you have to bring in experienced folks to run the ship…having said that the grassroots are still vital and important to success, but they have to have experienced leadership.

Looking back at Howard Dean circa 2003…the guy almost became the democratic nominee and was much more viable than Paul. Both had strong grassroots movements but Dean had some adults in charge at HQ. Ultimately, I think both Dean and Paul were not strong enough vessels for their movements. So what happened to many of those early Deaniacs? They became the base of Barack Obama's underdog campaign in early 2007. So why was Barack successful where Dean was not?

  1. Obama is a FAR superior candidate "product" than Howard Dean
  2. Obama's team of very experienced political folks had a whole list of lessons learned from the Dean Campaign
  3. The online left-roots had only grown larger and stronger since 2003

In short I would propose that Barack Obama would NEVER have gotten off the ground had it not been for Howard Dean.

So if you were a Ron Paulie in 2007 what should you be preparing for? Look for the well spoken Liberty candidate. Can you imagine if Dr. Paul had the TV appeal or speaking skills of a Mike Pence or Jeff Flake? There will be a Republican candidate running in 2012 (in all seriousness they have probably already started) that will carry many of Dr. Paul's limited government issues, learned from his mistakes and have a more experienced team around them. Don't know who that "Candidate X" is yet but if you find them let me know.

Candidate X is looking for your passion, your love of liberty and yes your dollars too. That candidate will finally be worth the absolutely incredible effort that so many Paul supporters poured into the 2008 primary.

Be looking for that candidate because they are probably already looking for you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How SXSW Is Different Than Your “Usual” Conference

First of all many of you are wondering what is SXSW and why do I keep talking about it. It stands for South by Southwest. Started in 1987 as an independent music festival that now has 3 stages that include film, music and interactive. I just came for the interactive. I am not sophisticated enough to enjoy indie film or music.

Is it a tech geek thing? Kinda sorta. It has a lot of different aspects and I came as someone who is just curious. You can check out the schedule of sessions here

From my layman's perspective, and in an attempt to be funny and way oversimplify this week, here are some observations in the difference between SXSW and a regular "Trade Show"

  1. More tattoos…less comb overs.
  2. More jeans…less khakis.
  3. More Macs…less PCs.
  4. More iPhones…less Blackberrys.
  5. More Battlestar Galactica…less College hoops.
  6. More guys who code…less guys who sell.
  7. More brains…less schmaltzy sales pitches.
  8. More piercings…less polo shirts.
  9. More green tea…less Starbucks.

More later…

Chris Faulkner

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Blacks, whites hear Obama differently - Nia-Malika Henderson -

Targeting can be done by mail, phones, media and even public speaking.

Blacks, whites hear Obama differently - Nia-Malika Henderson - "Dog-whistle politics was hardly invented by Obama. One of its most deft practitioners lately was President George W. Bush. He regularly borrowed the language of evangelical Christianity and the anti-abortion movement to signal he was simpatico with their beliefs, even as he often avoided obvious displays of support that might turn off middle-of-the-road voters.

“The code words matter, how you dress matters, how you speak matters; it’s all subliminal messaging, and all politicians use it,” said Michael Fauntroy, an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University, who specializes in race and American politics. “Ronald Reagan used to talk about making America the shining city on a hill, which is about America as divinely inspired, and it has a deep vein in the evangelical conservative movement. It goes on all the time, and there are so many circumstances when only the target people get the message.”"

This is a fascinating look at how words can mean different things to different people and how effective campaigns use this to make a message stick.

Friday, February 6, 2009


(Granger, IN) – Faulkner Strategies was presented a Reed Award by Campaigns & Election Politics Magazine for its innovative direct mail design during the 2008 election cycle. The Midwest based communications firm took top honors for category of Direct Mail for a Republican State Legislative Candidate.

The piece features Indiana State Representative candidate Dan Leonard who needed to make his mail stand out during an election cycle inundated with national and statewide candidates stuffing mailboxes as never before in Indiana. The mail piece was designed to emphasize Leonard’s “outsider status. The message targeted to voters was that a small action performed by them (voting for Dan Leonard) would lead to a big change, i.e. an outsider like Dan being elected. By utilizing fun and creative graphic design with easily read blurbs, the voter was guided through seemingly unimportant moments in history that turned out to make a significant impact on their today.

Faulkner Strategies was retained by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, who was targeting the Leonard race in the 2008 Republican primary. Dan Leonard handily beat two others in the primary, with his vote total coming out to 4249 while the other two received 1675 and 1343. “Faulkner Strategies is the best political mail vendor in the Midwest and is a growing Indiana company with a talented staff. IBRG has hired Faulkner Strategies on several races in the last few elections to handle direct mail for our endorsed candidates in competitive races and is a company we have an excellent relationship with,” said Michael Davis, Vice President of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Jordan S. Lieberman, President of Political World Communications, LLC and publisher of Politics magazine, said, “The competition for this award was intense, and included some of the most successful political professionals in the world."
Founder & President of Faulkner Strategies said, "By winning this award, I think we’ve proven that fun and upbeat messaging in a campaign can make a difference. Our team worked hard to tell a story about the difference one man can make in a community and the voters responded positively to it.”

The Reed Awards recognizes excellence in campaign management, political consulting and creative content. The awards are named after Campaigns & Elections founder Stanley Foster Reed, and embody his mission to strive for excellence in political campaigning.

The Campaigns & Elections' Politics magazine Reed Awards are highly coveted by the nation's top political consultants. This year's Reed Awards were judged by political luminaries from across the political spectrum, including: Morton Blackwell, Tucker Carlson, Tom Davis, Monica Dixon, Ben Dworkin, Vic Fazio, Martin Frost, Julie Germany, Shane Greer, Ken Khachigian, Mike Hennessy, Ron Klain, Mike Krempasky, Kevin Madden, Mark, McKinnon, Dick Morris, Terry Nelson, Christie Pelosi, Amy Pritchard, Larry Sabato, Ron Silver, Jamal Simmons, Michael Steele, George Stephanopolous, Robert Traynham, Joe Trippi, Suzanne Turner, Vaughn Ververs, Amy Walter, Christine Todd Whitman, and Reid Wilson.

Faulkner Strategies is an Indiana based targeted communications firm that focuses on delivering personalized and impactful messages to consumers and voters. For more information visit