TV is top medium for grabbing attention and influencing voters

Politicians should rethink outdated campaigning techniques such as billboard advertising, according to a new 'Election Engagement Index' from Weber Shandwick and Research Now.

Traditional media, such as TV, radio and newspapers, are more likely to capture voters’ attention than billboard advertising or social media, according to a poll of 510 adults in the UK. The public opinion research is purported to be the first of its kind. 

TV programmes and leader debates were most likely to command 56 per cent of respondents’ attention, followed by 46 per cent who chose newspapers and magazines and 35 per cent who chose radio.

However, 'family conversations' rated as highly as TV in grabbing voters' attention, with 56 per cent opting for this medium, and even conversations with work colleagues scored as highly as radio for influencing voting behaviour. 

TV had greater influence on voting behaviour than any other medium, at 47 per cent.

Although the upcoming election is often hailed as the first one dominated by social media, such as Twitter or Facebook campaigns, only 22 per cent of survey respondents said social media grabbed their attention, while just 15 per cent took any notice of candidate or party emails.

However, social media had greater sway than traditional media – with the exception of TV – when it came to influencing votes.

Traditional campaigning methods, such as doorstep canvassing and billboard advertising, ranked poorly both in grabbing attention and influencing votes.

Jon McLeod, chairman of corporate, financial and public affairs at Weber Shandwick, said: "This Election Engagement Index shows that political candidates and parties are not delivering their messages to voters in the way voters want."

Tamora Langley, head of public affairs at Weber Shandwick, added that the findings indicated opportunities for parties "to close the social engagement gap".

She added: "Voters want to be persuaded of who they should vote for through effective social engagement on channels such as Facebook and Twitter. In particular we have found very low voter expectations of how political parties will use email to contact them. Given that email is a highly targeted and cost-effective channel, the parties clearly could do better at digital campaigning."

Ben Hogg, EMEA managing director at Research Now, said: "More than ever, it is imperative that the parties are communicating to their electorate in a way that is relevant to them. As well as wanting to hear policies and manifestos, it is clear that the voting population wishes to see how party leaders behave and react in live scenarios such as the TV debates, rather than in pre-prepared and pre-polished advertising campaigns."

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