In today’s very noisy media landscape, candidates are going to have a harder time than ever getting their message in front of voters. Twitter is too ephemeral. Facebook buries your posts unless to pay to cut to the head of the line. Google+ is, well, Google+. One of the few reliable ways to reach your potential audience is through good old-fashioned email.
Unfortunately, it seems that getting your supporters to sign up on your website isn’t enough for some candidates. Today I received a campaign announcement email from Doug Owens despite never having signed up for his email list. I’ve also never lived in his district, donated money to his campaign, or given any money or contact information to the Utah Democratic Party. In fact, there’s no way I even semi-legitimately ended up on his email list.
This isn’t the first time this has happened either. Luke Garrott’s campaign added me to his email list a few years ago under the same circumstances. Jackie Biskupski did the same thing to me last month. I’ve never lived within the city limited of Salt Lake City, never supported their campaigns, never had any communication with either of them until their unsolicited campaign email hit my inbox.
You’d think it would be common sense (not to mention common decency) to only send campaign email to people who asked for it. You’re going to annoy people who didn’t sign up for it, end up being reported to spam filters (Google is pretty good at killing that kind of thing), and maybe end up earning the ire of a blogger with the time to wonder if you went to the Mark Towner School of Political Spamming. That increased name recognition comes with the baggage of negative associations.
Look, I get it. Campaigns cost a crap ton of money. You need to use the cheapest possible way to get your message out and engage voters, especially for something as unlikely to attract massive support as a city council race. But is it worth picking up a reputation as someone who doesn’t respect your inbox a good way to do it? You should probably avoid that pie in your face.