Campaign Palm Cards with Kristina Keats CW 05- Transcript

Man hand hold empty card isolated on whiteJohn Tsarpalas: Well, I’m here with Kristina Keats and we’re talking about getting ready to run for local office. And one of the first things I think we both agree that a candidate needs is a piece of literature. Before they’ve even gone out with their petitions, they should get that together and a design and look. They need a logo. They need a good picture, etc.

Anyway, let’s get into this whole concept. And then when they are out petitioning, they’ve got something to hand to people so people can remember them and see their name in print. So let’s start with what’s called in the industry a campaign palm card. It’s basically the size of a palm card.

Kristina Keats: It’s the size of a #10 envelope.

John Tsarpalas: Okay.

Kristina Keats: It fits in a #10 envelope.

John Tsarpalas: Perfect.

Kristina Keats: And supposedly you can hold it in your palm. But it’s good because you can mail it and you can hand it out. So, you’ve already figured out what you think because this is important. You can’t do your literature unless you know what your principles are that you are running on.

But the most important thing to know about your literature before you begin is that the fact you’re running for office makes you unusual. Most people hate politics, so they are not going to spend the time looking at literature that you might. The average is eight seconds. That isn’t very long. And you need to make sure that you only have on your literature the things that are really important. You put too much on, you don’t know what they’re going to see.

John Tsarpalas: So the person looking at it will look for about eight seconds and that’s it.

Kristina Keats: Eight seconds. And one of the things that a lot of the first timers do is they write a letter or long verbiage or whatever. That is not what you want to do. Stay oriented towards eight seconds. Make it easy to them to see the highlights, the Cliff Notes version of your life. So, you should have three categories on your literature. You should have your principles, your resume, and your community/family. And you want to make it easy for people to find those different areas.

I generally recommend to candidates that they have one picture of themselves only that goes on one side of their palm card with their nice logo and their name really big in something attractive. And on the reverse side, you have a family picture. So then a picture is worth a thousand words. So if you have a lovely family, you have the picture there. And then you have your principles and your community activities.

John Tsarpalas: Okay, let’s stop on the picture. Let’s do this one step at a time.

Kristina Keats: Okay, good.

John Tsarpalas: Okay, photo. Get it done professionally or if you know someone who is really good with a camera. But these have to be good.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: They have to be very, very good shots.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: In the family, do you want the dog? Do you want the cat? Do you want… you know, all of that gets you votes.

Kristina Keats: I would put… If you have a dog and you can get your cat to sit still, I would put them in. Dog, definitely because you know can contain a dog. Cats are a little harder. I wouldn’t do weird pets like turtles and snakes.

John Tsarpalas: Right, keep it to the…

Kristina Keats: It’s just like any advertising. Puppies and babies sell. So if you’ve got young children, that is attractive to people. They like to look at it. So you get your whole family with the dog in the picture. And it has to be good.

John Tsarpalas: And dress appropriately.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: You know, get a haircut, blah blah blah. Whatever you need, make sure you are-

Kristina Keats: Generally you want your front picture to show you as a professional person, dressed in that way.

John Tsarpalas: Correct.

Kristina Keats: And then your family picture- you don’t wear a suit when you are with your family, so look normal. Have your kids dressed normal, but nice, neat, not slovenly. And just a normal Christmas card kind of picture is what you are looking for. But I’m not saying red and green, but just the family feeling. So that they see that you have a family.

Then you can have a little line underneath, “Joe Blow and his wife, Melissa, and their three children, Tom, Suzie, and Jamie, and the dog.” And one thing I think you should do is a lot of people just include the dog’s name like it is a child. And that’s confusing, especially if you named your dog Sammy or something that could be a kid. So, “And their dog, Theodore”, so people don’t get confused and think you have four children and one isn’t in the picture, okay? And believe me, anything that someone can get confused about, they will.

Then you have your principles. And make sure – and this is a bug of mine because I was a raised in a time when grammar counted – use your same tense and person when you are doing bullet points on your principles. “Spending money more efficiently.” Then don’t make the next one… It should also be a word that ends in an “ing” to keep it consistent. Do you see what I’m saying?

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, absolutely. Keep your verbs conjugated in the same tense, etc.

Kristina Keats: Yes, exactly. I’m not thinking in the English teacher word-

John Tsarpalas: Mode, yeah.

Kristina Keats: – to do it. But make it so it’s easy to read. It should flow.

John Tsarpalas: Well, have someone edit it. Get somebody that can edit; have them go over it.

Kristina Keats: And someone who will be critical, not someone who’s going to say, “Oh, it’s great.” Because you see some things and other people see other things.

John Tsarpalas: Alright, and then let’s not overdue how many principles you are putting on there.

Kristina Keats: Right, you should have it down to a maximum of like five. It really should be three that you run on, but you can put a few more in your literature. But put them in order of importance. Whatever the issue is that is most important to you, that’s the one. And if it’s a local issue- like let’s say they are going to have a train come through your community- “Stop the train.”

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: If that’s where you are. Or “Support the train.”

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: But make it easy for people to see where you are and what you are running on. With your resume, again Cliff Notes version. Nobody cares that you played Little League in elementary school, okay? If you are running the Little League for your local community, that’s another thing; that’s a community thing that should be included. And you want to have community involvement. If you don’t have any community involvement, then don’t put a category for it. But if you have a lot of things you have done in the community- you are in the Rotary, you run the Little League, you ran the hockey league, you are in the PTA, you whatever- that all should be listed because people appreciate people who have done something before they decide they want to be in office.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: And then your resume… Oh, and also put your educational background if it is important to your community. Some communities are all highly educated and they are going to judge by where you went to school or connect to you on that.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: Other communities, if it’s not that important, don’t put it down.

John Tsarpalas: Doesn’t matter.

Kristina Keats: And you should know your community and whether or not that should be included. But then your resume should be, you know, if you are a small business owner, that you own a business in town and that you’ve owned it for how many years. All of that matters. If you’ve had a career in banking, then you show where you work now and that you’ve been in banking for twenty years, etc. Again, Cliff Notes version of your resume because you want…

And then once you’ve made it, one of the things that I used to do and it was really helpful is I would make the palm card, a mock-up, and I would hand it to someone who I knew was not particularly political, but who would vote because that’s the person that you are targeting. People who are really political, it’s a different thing. They are going to seek you out and figure you out. But the people who will vote… If you hand it to them, you say, “What do you think of this?” and then you count silently to eight seconds. And when you hit the eight seconds, you pull it away from them and say, “What did you see?”

John Tsarpalas: Good, that’s a good test.

Kristina Keats: Because if you’ve designed it right, they will see, “Well, you’re running for x. You have a nice family. You used to be in banking and ran the Little League.” Now they’re not going to see everything.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: But you want to know what they’re seeing. If they come back and they say, “I don’t know. I can’t remember,” then it’s not very well designed. You’ve made too hard for them to pick up on some things.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: And when I say eight seconds, it’s eight seconds and then in the garbage. That’s what happens. Even if you are passing out at somebody’s house, they give you the eight seconds and when they close the door, it’s gone straight to the garbage.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: And if people aren’t seeing what you want them to see, then you have to look at it critically and say, “Okay, why not? Have I got too much on here?” Less is more in politics. The less you say, the more they see of what you say.

John Tsarpalas: Right, that’s really important. Don’t overload it.

Kristina Keats: Right. And another thing that is really helpful and people are going to think it’s stupid, but it works, and that is highlight. So for example, you can have your resume and Rotary Club president and you’ve got the dates and other information, but just highlight in yellow “Rotary Club president.” Highlight in yellow that you worked for the Little League. Highlight in yellow the name of your business.

John Tsarpalas: Well, only a couple of highlights.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: And things that work for that community.

Kristina Keats: Right. Exactly.

John Tsarpalas: You’re not highlighting everything.

Kristina Keats: Don’t overdue the highlights.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: Because less is more. But what you want it your piece of literature to have everything that a really interested person would want to know, but simply present them so that a person who doesn’t want to know everything can see it.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: That’s what you are after. You want your literature to serve both purposes, where if they want to know more, they can. And by the way, you have a website, yes? And your website address is on there. And you can talk and write as much as you want on that website. But be careful because you can get yourself in trouble when you’re not thinking through your language and it can be misinterpreted. But carefully thought out statements with more information; you can put more there. And if they really want to know more, they will go there.

But don’t expect people to actually visit your website that much. It just won’t happen. I was working on a campaign where there were like two million voters. And we did a robo calls to three hundred thousand people to try to push them to the website, and we’d get two hundred hits.

John Tsarpalas: Wow. Yeah, it’s reality.

Kristina Keats: People don’t like politics.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: Okay? And then they are liking it less and less every year in my opinion. And so the idea that they will come to you or that they care that much is one that you’ve got to get past.

John Tsarpalas: Right. Let’s talk about design because I think the most important thing is the design, that it looks professional. That you determine some colors that are going to be a theme.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: Some fonts that you are using in the printing that are part of your look and theme. And these colors and fonts are going to carry over to your website, to your yard sign, and into other literature.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: You are trying to create a brand.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: Everyone knows what the Pepsi logo looks like.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: Why? Because it’s constant and it’s always there on all of their things. You are creating a brand: John Doe for school board. And you want to have consistency in everything you do. So it’s really important to get yourself a good designer or someone who can do design for you. If there’s a professional designer you know, great. Talk with them. Work with them. And again, take whatever they’ve produced for you- what’s the right word? mock-ups. That’s not the word I’m looking for.

Kristina Keats: Right, mock-up.

John Tsarpalas: A mock-up. Take that and get other people’s opinion besides just your own.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: But it needs to look clean. It needs to be simple. And you need to develop this theme with your colors and your fonts.

Kristina Keats: And one of the things that first time candidates do is “I’m going to look different from everybody else.”

John Tsarpalas: Yeah. No.

Kristina Keats: So they get a beautiful design that you might want to hang in your living room. But something that is really important is that you can see it from… When it comes to a yard sign, simple is better. Colored background, white letters, name big.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: You know, there are a lot of things that you can do with your name with the font, etc. But don’t get too cute. I mean, I’ve seen yard signs where they have so much on the yard sign that the print gets really little and even when you are standing right on top of it, you barely can see it.

John Tsarpalas: You can’t see it. Yeah.

Kristina Keats: And you want a color… Now, politics tends to be red, white, and blue. Democrats tend not to use the patriotic colors.

John Tsarpalas: A lot of greens. Around here the Democrats use a lot of green.

Kristina Keats: And just be aware of that.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: You know, if you are a conservative and you use green or turquoise colors in your literature, people are going to think that you are a liberal, okay? That’s just what has happened. Now, in red states, like Texas, everybody has to be red, white, and blue or they can’t get elected period.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: Even the Democrats.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: And the other thing is you might have a friend who is an art director who will do it for free.

John Tsarpalas: Right, I did get a guy who was a high level art director at a big advertising firm to help out a state rep campaign I was involved with a while ago. And he came up with a really cute look and really wonderful colors. We were running a lot on money for schools. And so the color was school bus yellow.

Kristina Keats: Yeah.

John Tsarpalas: Which was a wonderful idea.

Kristina Keats: But some times people who have that kind of experience can’t translate it into politics.

John Tsarpalas: That’s true.

Kristina Keats: There was one person in a local referendum and he just went against all the political rules. He didn’t us to use our theme over and over again. You know, because he was using to working on advertising campaigns where everybody knows the Nike logo, and you just have to show it; you don’t have to repeat it. Oh, I know what it was. We were running a slate of candidates for school board, and he didn’t want us to repeat the names over and over again.

John Tsarpalas: Oh my gosh, that’s what people vote for.

Kristina Keats: Right?

John Tsarpalas: He just thought they were going to vote the slate? They won’t remember it because it doesn’t say slate on the ballot.

Kristina Keats: No, he wanted to emphasize the slate, not the names.

John Tsarpalas: It doesn’t work that way because you don’t vote that way.

Kristina Keats: And we wanted to… Oh, I know, he wanted to just use the initials of the people. The unfortunate thing is that some of our opponents had the same initials.

John Tsarpalas: Oh, dear. Oh my gosh, that’s crazy.

Kristina Keats: Oh my gosh. Can’t you see this?

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: So again, be careful because there are people who…they could be a big executive at some big advertising agency. It’s a different world. This is like you don’t have… When you have a product that you’re selling, you have a lifetime to build your brand.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: You’ve got three weeks to build your brand when people are paying attention before they vote. And you got to keep it simple for them.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: So absolutely the same colors on everything: your signs, your literature, your business cards, everything, your website. It all has to say… And your name needs to be big and what you are running for. Make it easy. I’ve seen things where you see the name and they are not saying what they are running for. And I’m going, “I wonder if they are somebody that I should vote for? Are they in my district? Are they running for…?”

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: And that’s the other thing, if you don’t you don’t put what you are running for, people get confused. Don’t make it hard for people to vote for you.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: Make it easy.

John Tsarpalas: A simple way to get a good design is to go to And you put what you want, so you kind of make a little sketch of what you want. They bid on it and they make presentations. And you get to choose the presentation that you like. So you’ll get multiple designers working on your project through that website.

Kristina Keats: That’s a great idea.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, and it can be inexpensive. It’s a good way to go. We’ll have a link to it in the show notes at So take a look there. 99 Designs is just a good way to go. I mean, there are other sources on the web, too, for design if you don’t know somebody. And usually designers can be expensive. You don’t want to spend a lot of money. You aren’t going to have a lot of money in your campaign for design.

Kristina Keats: Right. And the main thing is it doesn’t have to be award winning. There’s a reason why those banners that people put in stores, you know “42% off” are huge and in neon orange. Because people can see them.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: And I’m not suggesting you pick neon orange as your color theme, although you could. I mean, you want something that people can remember.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: And that is consistent. And that’s all; it’s that simple. So don’t make it hard on yourself and try to get fancy or pretty or more sophisticated. I’ve had people, first time candidates, tell me that, “Oh, this is a totally different look and people are going to vote for us because we have a totally different look.” And I go okay.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: I don’t want to tell you, “No, that’s not how politics works.” Politics, although it’s got a lot of the elements of the business world, does not work like business world because it is selling people, which is an emotional thing to begin with. So, it is a whole different thing. And you are better off working with people who have some experience working in the political realm.

John Tsarpalas: Right. So you’ve got your design. You’ve got your picture. You’ve got this thing laid out. You’ve tested it with a people with Tina’s eight-second test. You need to go get it printed. You can go to your local print shop.

It’s going to be on a little stiffer cardstock is what you are looking for here, something that you can hold in the wind and the breeze when you are standing out petitioning door to door. Probably a little glossy, a little slicker, so that it doesn’t melt in the rain and the snow and the elements when you are out there.

Local print shop, why? Well, it’s good to use local business. Perhaps you can get their vote. Perhaps you can get them to donate the printing. You can try all of those things.

Kristina Keats: Local is better, but cheap is good.

John Tsarpalas: Right. You also need to know if you are in a heavy union town, a lot of times your printing has to have a what they call the union bug; it’s a little logo that says it’s printed by a union printer.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: That’s important in certain areas; in other areas, it isn’t. That’s a call that you have to decide and make. If anyone’s going to care or pay attention to it or not, depends on your community if you want to put that on your printed materials.

Kristina Keats: And when it comes to yard signs, same thing. Yard signs is a specialty kind of printing because they have to have bigger processors.

John Tsarpalas: Right. We are going to get into a whole podcast on yard signs.

Kristina Keats: Okay.

John Tsarpalas: But the colors and theme…

Kristina Keats: But the printing of it, do you have a source for yard signs?

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, I have a couple of yard sign printers. I’ll put those in the show notes when we talk about yard signs.

Kristina Keats: Okay.

John Tsarpalas: But the local palm card, I think it’s best printed locally. You get it quicker.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: You want get it.

Kristina Keats: And it shouldn’t be that expensive.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: But again, do your homework. Find out. Generally for a local election, five thousand palm cards should do you. What I would recommend to start is that you get a shorter printing, because they can do that pretty cheap now.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: So that you can go out. And if you find out people are saying, “Well, it doesn’t say on here x,” something that you left off, you can adjust it. Make sure before you do your five thousand that you’ve got everything you need on it.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: And by the way, some jurisdictions require you to put (you need to find this out) on the bottom “Paid for…”

John Tsarpalas: Paid for by Citizens for John Doe for school board.

Kristina Keats: Right, your disclaimers. And that might have to… Find out. This is again when you are going to do your research with your data and everything, you also need to get your research on what you need to do. But John says he’s going to have a lawyer who will talk to you about how to be sure you dot your I’s and cross your T’s.

John Tsarpalas: Yes. And if you are running for federal office, it’s under federal law McCain-Feingold. If you are running a local, it’s probably under the state law.

Kristina Keats: Right. Or a local law.

John Tsarpalas: So just go to the board of elections.

Kristina Keats: Just be aware that there are laws out there. You need to find out what they are.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, make sure that the disclaimer is printed on the literature, which is real important.

Kristina Keats: Right. And it’s not every jurisdiction, every state. They don’t all require it, so you need to know what goes on in your area.

John Tsarpalas: Right. Okay, so you’ve got your palm card together and you’re ready to go out with your petitions to get yourself on the ballots. So in our next podcast, I think we will be talking about petitions.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: Okay, thank you.

Kristina Keats: We’re ready.

John Tsarpalas: That’s the basics on a campaign staple, the palm card. Good design is important in your campaign. It’s readily available out there online at a reasonable price, so go on the Web and take a look.

We mentioned 99 Designs. Let me explain. I am going to try to set up an affiliate link with them, but I haven’t done that yet. So there will be links in some of our show notes that connect somewhere. An affiliate link pays a commission to the person who puts the link up, so that would be in this case We will have affiliate links from time to time, but I will say that in the show notes, point it out so that you are not thinking that we are trying to get away with anything. And it doesn’t cost you anymore usually. It’s just a small commission back to the person making the link.

Well, that’s it for today. If you have questions you’d like to email me, I’m at I look forward to having you subscribe. Pass to word on. Listen to us again next week. Thanks.

Kristina Keats: Politics, although it’s got a lot of the elements of the business world, does not work like business world because it is selling people, which is an emotional thing to begin with.

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