Political advertisements are likely to dominate the airwaves come fall, and one local candidate is getting in on the action early.
Mariah White, who is running for Richmond School Board in the 2nd District, purchased 28 advertising spots on local news station WTVR-CBS 6, becoming the first mayoral, City Council or School Board candidate this cycle to take her campaign to a television audience, according to public records made available through the Federal Communications Commission. The Carver resident, a retired Army major, says she drew on her unsuccessful 2012 bid for School Board to make the $3,000 buy.
“I think out the box, so strategically, the last time I ran, no one knew who I was,” White says. “To get the word out, to get my message out, I bought TV ads so people know who I am and what I stand for.”
The first wave of 15-second ads will run in early September, during the first week of classes of Richmond Public Schools’ 2016-2017 calendar year. A second round will run the week leading up to the Nov. 8 election. White also purchased an ad on the TV station’s website for the same period.
Why advertise exclusively on WTVR-CBS 6? That’s the station White tunes in most often, and she figures others watch it as frequently as she does throughout the day.
While television does reach a wide audience, spending money on television is an inefficient way for a candidate running in a district-wide race to reach voters, says Richard Meagher Jr., a political science professor at Randolph-Macon College and observer of local politics. Fliers, direct mail and yard signs are more effective ways of reaching voters in a district, Meagher says.
“If you have a limited budget, as I imagine a School Board candidate does, TV is not the best use of your dollars,” he says.
TV isn’t the only way White plans to reach voters, but she is counting on people seeing the ads, then spreading the word to bolster her chances.
“Word of mouth is the best marketing tool in advertising,” she says.