2008 Archives

Local politicians are still stuffing mailboxes with direct mail


The following is from the Nov. 2, 2008, edition of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Professor Rita Kirk, chair of the Division of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs in SMU's Meadows School of the Arts, provided expertise for this story.

November 2, 2008

By Aman Batheja
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

In the fight for the ballot box, local campaigns are targeting the mailbox.

Candidates in a handful of local races are collectively spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach voters via that old campaign standby — direct mail. In order to stand out amid a pile of bills, catalogs and junk mail, subtlety is going out the window as campaigns are using bold imagery and slogans meant to immediately widen voters’ eyes and grab their attention.

If one were to judge solely by these mailers, many North Texas candidates are controlled by special interests and have an unscrupulous past they hope no one will hear about.

But whether the efforts lead to more votes on Election Day is up for debate.

"It’s kind of like advertisements in general," said Rita Kirk, a public affairs professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas whose research has focused on political communication. "We know you’re just giving us your perspective or your point of view, and that doesn’t really move us unless we were already predisposed to that way of thinking."

Election mailers usually fall into two categories: positive pieces praising a candidate and negative pieces attacking an opponent.

Read the full story.

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