Measuring influence, gauging reactions

Measuring the effectiveness of political and corporate campaigns

One of the hot topics in corporate communications today is how to prove that our communications are actually having an effect on our target audiences? In this article, we consider this question from the contexts of political campaigns. Despite fierce competition, commercial brands tend to play relatively nicely in the public sphere, learning from experience that consumers don’t warm towards overtly aggressive advertising. However, when it comes to the battle of political brands at election time, the gloves come off in a bloody battle to win at the ballot box. With finite budgets and short windows of opportunity, all eyes are on the prize of the floating voter, those people who when polled give an ‘undecided’ response. In the political arena, polls are scrutinised daily to gauge voter intention, and with so many public relations coups and disasters, it is essential to understand how peoples’ voting intentions change. A key consideration is what impact the communications plan has and how it can be adapted quickly to work even better. During the 2010 British general election, MESH Planning and Cranfield School of Management pioneered a new way to measure the relative influence of communication touchpoints in real time; we call this approach real-time experience tracking (RET).

Fiona Blades

Fiona Blades founded MESH Planning in 2006 following a career as a marketing manager for Spillers Foods and as an advertising planning director. She is a member of Cranfield School of Management MSc strategic marketing advisory board to further strengthen ties between Cranfield and MESH. Planning.

Paul Baines

Paul Baines is professor of political marketing at Cranfield School of Management, UK. He has worked on various communication research projects for UK government departments, and operates his own strategic marketing and market research consultancy, Baines Associates Limited.