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1) Millennials don’t answer their door, watch live TV or read their mail.

Yes, the older demographic still votes in much higher numbers. But as Millennials age as a cohort and become the largest percentage of registered voters, traditional means of reaching the electorate will be less and less effective every years.

Today’s new homeowners use Ring to screen visitors at the door, stream Hulu Live and Netflix and toss mail directly into the recycle bin. They do, however, consume digital content voraciously.

2) Traditional gatekeepers are declining.

You’ve seen what’s happened to the legacy news media. Where a campaign such as yours might have once had a dedicated reporter, now you’re lucky to get any attention at all.

Press conferences, press releases and prepared statements will only get attention in special circumstances, usually when someone is in trouble. If your communications strategy is predicated on getting press from the mainstream media, you’re in trouble.

The same goes for industry groups. Just think: How many environmental reporters are left? If you want to influence public policy, you’ll probably have to produce the information and coverage needed to sway lawmakers or the public on your own.

Aerial view of an N.C. hog farm by Friends of Family Farmers via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Millennial voters also show less affinity for traditional institutions, including party organizations, caucuses, League of Women Voters, Rotary clubs, labor unions and other groups that used to be counted on to spread the word on who to vote for.

If you want to spread the word, you’re going to need to do it yourself.

3) Ad networks are getting smarter.

Flooding the airwaves is not really a viable strategy in the digital era. When you’re relying on Facebook or other platforms for paid messaging, drab advertising will only go so far no matter how much money you put in. Mark Zuckerberg’s company puts a premium on content that people engage with. It will take varied, high-quality pieces that don’t look like your everyday ad to break through. Somebody’s going to have to create it.

From Facebook’s data center in Forest City. Photo via Facebook.

4) Everybody else is doing it.

Your mother might not have accepted this reason, but your campaign sure should. The smartphones in everyone’s pocket have turned the masses into publishers, recording video, sharing photos and distributing commentary in real time. If you’re not in the mix, you’re at the mercy of your opponents and the internet at large.

5) Technology will eventually boost voter turnout.

This one’s more long-term, but the trajectory in our country is toward more security around elections, but broader voting access. Sometime in our lifetimes, the United States will move toward a digital or mobile voting system that relies on our ubiquitous devices. Some of the top minds in Silicon Valley are already working on this. When this comes to pass, it will dramatically raise turnout and make digital communication even more valuable.


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