Using Trump in Your Message

The Pros & Cons of Using Trump in Your Campaign Message

As of August 2017, Donald Trump has become a deeply unpopular president. His approval rating is now consistently under 40%. Unable to get anything done in Congress – despite controlling both houses – Republicans are also facing a major enthusiasm gap.

But how much should Democratic campaigns focus on the president in their communications? The answer is less clear cut than you might think. We weigh the pros and cons of using Trump in your campaign message.

Pros

  • According to Rasmussen, strong disapproval for Trump exceeded 50% in July, mostly among Democrats. Using Trump's image can be a good way to motivate the base to come out and vote on Election Day. "Send a message to Trump" is a good message for progressives.
  • Attacking Democratic primary opponents who hold any views that align with Trump's can give your primary campaign a shot in the arm and move the needle in your favor.
  • In general elections, Republicans who align themselves with Trump too closely will cost them independent voters. So, if you have a Trumpian Republican you’re facing, you should exploit that in your mailers, ads, and press conferences.

Cons

  • Many voters understand that Trump is not a typical Republican. While anti-Trump messages will work well with progressive Democrats and people of color, they are likely to fall short of expectations with other voters, especially if the Republican in the race distances him or herself from the president.
  • There is a law of diminishing returns when you try associating a Democratic primary opponent to an unpopular Republican. We have seen it many times in the past. While it can give your campaign a shot in the arm, sustaining those attacks will make them less and less effective because (frankly) voters don’t find them very believable.
  • Traditional Republican voters like the ones we discussed a few weeks ago (wealthier, more educated, suburban) might not like Trump, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to vote for a Democratic Congressional candidate. They will see through it if you try to get them to vote Democratic with an anti-Trump message.

If you have questions about using or avoiding Trump in your campaign, reach out to us! We’re happy to be a resource to you.


 

"Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

"I have known Eric Hogensen for many years and he has always impressed me with his political insights. So naturally, when I decided to run, I decided to hire his firm. HSG Campaigns proved to be a highly-creative and hard-working team that never gave up. I very highly recommend them for your consulting needs if you run for office."

- Mitchell Schwartz, former candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles


 

What We're Reading

This week Dave is recommending The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie.

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"Andrew Carnegie is a fascinating character. In his autobiography, he tells interesting stories from his life, including his relationships with other historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Kaiser Wilhelm II. More importantly, the book outlines his philosophies of business, politics, religion, and philanthropy, which are not always what you would expect of one of history's richest men."

- Dave


 

Check Out TenMoreVotes!

Our sister company, Ten More Votes, has launched the full version of its new app. See how it can help your campaign. Click here to request a demo!

 

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Branding Like Bryce

How to Create a Brand Like Randy Bryce Did

Our friend, Howie Klein, recently took note of an incredible ad from Randy Bryce (one of Speaker Paul Ryan's Democratic challengers) on his blog:

"…this authentic voice from southeast Wisconsin pops up on the screen a couple of weeks ago and BOOM! he immediately creates a platinum brand, goes from 7,000 to 113,000 twitter followers in two weeks, raises $500,000 from small donors in the same time period, puts out an online video that has over half a million views, and has endorsements pouring in from brand name political leaders like Ro Khanna, Alan Grayson and Kirsten Gillibrand."

While it's true that the DCCC can’t bottle, package, and resell this brand in any district in the country, there are some important political branding lessons to be learned from the Bryce ad.

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1. Voters are looking for authenticity. Gone are the days when only suited-up Ken dolls with poll-tested sound bites could get elected to Congress. More and more, voters are looking for authentic candidates who look and sound like real people.

2. Communicate with voters, not at them. It's really easy to disregard ads that seem scripted. One of the reasons documentary-style ads like this work well is because they offer opportunities for the candidate to use authentic language that connects with voters.

3. Tell a story. At first, it's not clear that this ad is for a candidate. As it goes on, you meet the characters in a way that feels natural. Who Bryce is and what he represents sticks with you as a result. That's because the messages that stick with an audience are those told through a story.

4. Positivity works. As the ad's maker, Matt McLaughlin, told Longreads, "There's a reason story arcs exist and why archetypes exist. Randy is an archetype and so is Paul Ryan. We wanted to end up with a place of hope and excitement that centers around Randy. I could see other ads ending with, 'this is why Paul Ryan is bad,' but we’ve always been advocates of positivity. Although this isn't the average political spot, it's not an indie film. People want a happy ending."

5. End on a clever point of summation. In this ad, you learn who Bryce is: an authentic working person. He and his family are affected by the decisions made in Washington, and lately, not for the better. At the end, Bryce proposes, "...let's trade places. Paul Ryan, you can come work the iron and I'll go to DC." It’s a remarkably simple but clever statement that sums up the entire idea. Paul Ryan is a Washington insider, Randy Bryce is a regular guy. Who do you prefer?


 

"Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

"Eric and his team are skilled in political strategy and organization and, more importantly, go above and beyond the expectations of their clients. Not only were they able to produce a great mailer for us, but they also showed us how they could help with our long-term goals. We are excited to work with HSG Campaigns again, and are proud to recommend them to other organizations like ours."

- Doug Patzkowski, President and Kathy Schlotz, Executive Director, Montebello Teachers Association


 

What We're Reading

This week Eric is recommending the highly acclaimed Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance.

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"I'm a couple of years older than Vance and grew up in a small rust belt town in south central Wisconsin. Though we don't share many biographical similarities, Vance's descriptions of the rust belt decay of his youth resonated deeply with me. The Trump election has reminded us how these parts of the country feel. This book is worth a read for anyone interested in a personal perspective on the rural areas of the middle of our great country."

- Eric


 

Check Out TenMoreVotes!

Our sister company, Ten More Votes, has launched the full version of its new app. See how it can help your campaign. Click here to request a demo!

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Dave's Take on the Ossoff Loss

Putting the Ossoff Loss in Perspective

In the wake of the special election loss in GA-06, and other Democratic losses over the past several months, we wanted to give you some thoughts that have gone unaddressed. Republicans frame their victories as vindication for Trump and the GOP agenda. Democrats are split on whether we should go further left or if its the far left that's losing races.

None of these perspectives does true justice to explain what happened in Georgia's 6th. Dave compiled the following thoughts to help explain the loss in the context of the 2018 elections.

Two Different Kinds of GOP Districts

Like the neighboring 7th District, Georgia's 6th District covers the suburbs of Atlanta. These districts supported Romney by 22- and 24-point margins, respectively. But GA-07 gave Trump a 6-point win and GA-06 gave Trump a 2-point win. Trump severely under-performed Romney's win in districts like this all over the country, including the suburbs of Houston (TX-02, TX-07, TX-22), Dallas (TX-24, TX-32), Salt Lake City (UT-03, UT-04), and Miami (FL-25), and in Orange County, California (CA-45, CA-48).

In these districts, Democrats are likely to find it easier to win than it was a few years ago, but (as we saw in Georgia) it's still tough. These well-off, educated Republicans might be embarrassed by Trump's behavior, but not willing to support a Democrat for Congress.

On the flip side, there are rural districts in the Midwest (MN-01, MN-07, MN-08, IL-12, WI-06, WI-07, WI-08) and Northeast (NY-21, NY-22, NY-23, ME-02) where Trump performed significantly better than Romney. Republicans have reason to be hopeful for these kinds of districts, but they will definitely lose some of them if their health care bill passes or if the economy turns south.

Take Out the Money, and What Do You Get?

The special election in GA-06 was the most expensive House race in history. About $30 million was spent by or for Ossoff, and about $25 million was spent by or for Handel. All this money probably did Ossoff more harm than good. For one thing, the idea of liberal elites from outside Georgia pitching in for Ossoff probably offended some undecided conservatives. But more importantly, it allowed Handel to spend a lot of money to get the GOP base out to vote. Without it, Republicans would have been at the mercy of a huge enthusiasm gap.

On the same night in rural South Carolina, Democrat Archie Parnell surprised everyone by coming within 2.5 points of winning the conservative SC-05. The two candidates spent about $2 million, whereas upwards of $60 million was spent in GA-06.

Democrats are Over-Performing by Huge Margins

A loss is a loss and it surely doesn't help our morale to lose, but Democrats are still doing better than they should in these districts. Keep in mind that GA-06 is an R+8 district. According to the Cook Political Report's post-election analysis, if Democrats were to continue to outperform their "generic share" of the vote by these margins, they would pick up 80 seats in 2018.

And although that's not going to happen, there are 58 GOP-held seats that are R+5 or better, including House Speaker Paul Ryan's. If Democrats win less than half of those they would take back the House.


 

"Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

“Eric and his team have helped us win several tough campaigns. The direct mail and campaign literature they produced was visually striking and effectively conveyed the messages and values we wanted to express to the voters. I highly recommend HSG Campaigns for organizations that want to have an impact in the next election.”

- Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor


 

What We're Reading

This week Dave is recommending How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization.

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"Those who know me know I'm a big soccer fan, but you don't need to be to appreciate the stories told in this book. As one of the testimonials on the back says, it's 'significantly entertaining if you like soccer, and entertainingly significant if you do not.' Topics include the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, Jewish and Catalonian identity politics, cultural exchange, hope for Iran, and financial corruption in a world that is getting smaller. While a bit dated and definitely biased at times, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

-Dave


 

Check Out TenMoreVotes!

Our sister company, Ten More Votes, has launched the full version of its new app. See how it can help your campaign. Click here to request a demo!

 

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The Worst Advice You'll Get When You Run

The 3 Worst Pieces of Advice You'll Get When You Decide to Run

A lot of people will want to give you their two cents when they find out you're running for office, even if they have no idea what they're talking about.

Here are the worst pieces of advice you might receive:

1. "Hire me as your campaign manager." It's amazing how often this happens: the friend of a candidate thinks he/she has what it takes to be a Campaign Manager, based on the depictions of Campaign Managers on TV. Unless that person is a seasoned political professional, do not hire them, especially not for a high-level role. Put someone with experience in charge. They should make the hiring recommendations from there.

2. "Do the things that Obama/Bernie/Trump did." Presidential races are not like races for other offices. The news media are consumed by presidential campaigns but rarely cover races for Congress or the State Legislature. Even the most competitive campaigns will not allow you to change the broader narrative of our politics, unless you're running for president. Use successful tactics from races for Governor, Congress, or local office in your area instead.

3. "Don't worry about the campaign yet, you have plenty of time." A campaign is the worst thing to procrastinate. It's not college, you won't get an extension. Time is the only resource a campaign has that is finite and declining. Fundraising will take up most of your time when you run for office, so it's best to do it now so later you can spend more time talking to voters.

What other terrible advice have you heard a candidate get? Let us know!

“Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

"We hired HSG Campaigns as subcontractors on a big project. They were fantastic to work with: thorough in their approach to the campaign; communicated well; and maintained a positive attitude throughout. We ended up increasing their role in the project. I look forward to the next time I will get to work with them."

- Rick Ridder, President and Co-Founder, RBI Strategies

What We're Reading

This week Eric is recommending Rick Ridder's memoirs: Looking for Votes in All the Wrong Places: Tales and Rules from the Campaign Trail.

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"It is a privilege to count Rick as a colleague. He is one of the true pros in this business. Rick's book was great fun to read, and I found myself wishing it was twice as long. I strongly recommend it to others - especially those who work in politics, as there is a story on nearly every page you will relate to."

-Eric

This Pride Month

This Pride Month, we remember the incredible progress we have made on LGBTQ rights in the United States. However, we must also remember that in much of the world this progress is far from realized. In Chechnya in particular, a genocide is currently being carried out against gay men.

Please consider a donation to the Rainbow Railroad today, to help LGBTQ individuals, including those in Chechnya, escape violent persecution.

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Finding a job for 2018

Need Help Finding a Job in Politics in 2018?

For anyone who worked in politics during the 2016 cycle - as an intern, an entry-level field organizer, or even as an experienced operative - and wants to do it again, you may be looking for work for 2018.

Here are some places to look:

  • Democratic GAIN - A national association for progressive campaign workers and organizations, Democratic GAIN helps its members find jobs for the next cycle. They have also merged with the Google group, JobsThatAreLEFT, which regularly posts political job openings around the country.
  • Wellstone Jobs - Formerly known as the "New Organizing Institute", Wellstone Jobs is another Google group for job posts, run by Wellstone Action.
  • EMILY's List - Named after the concept "Early Money is Like Yeast" (it raises the dough!), EMILY's List supports Democratic women running for office all over the country - in part by placing campaign workers on the ground to work for them.
  • Your own people! - If you have worked on a campaign before and your work was appreciated, go back to the campaign manager, consultants, and others you worked with to see if they know of anything for you. The people who liked your work will want to work with you again.

Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

"I have worked with HSG Campaigns several times in the past and I am always impressed with their insights into the hearts and minds of the voters they communicate with. They are able to take those insights and combine them with new and traditional tactics to craft great strategies for their clients. Candidates and organizations should strongly consider them in 2018."

- Joe Boyd, Executive Director, California Federation of Teachers

What We're Reading

This week Dave is recommending "An Economic History of the World Since 1400."

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"While not a book, per se, this series of lectures from the Great Courses is available in Audible and I strongly recommend it. For a full 24 hours, Professor Donald J. Harreld reviews the ways banking, mercantile trade, industrialization, and new distribution techniques helped develop the world we live in today - an economically unique moment in human history."

-Dave

 

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Why not DIY your campaign?

Why You Shouldn't "DIY" Your Campaign

Once in a while, we still meet the occasional candidate who wonders why he or she even needs a campaign consultant. How hard can a campaign be, anyway? Trust us, it's hard. Unless you're running for a very small local office, you will need a consultant. Here's the top reasons why.

1. Consultants Know the Players

Party officers, union leaders, and other big political players meet new candidates for different offices all the time. Nobody will be immediately impressed by you because you're a candidate. In fact, their instincts are to be skeptical of you. Having a consultant not only gives you more legitimacy as a candidate, but your consultant often knows the individual you are trying to meet with and can help make it happen.

2. Consultants Know the Vendors

Campaigns are short-lived, but consultants are in the marketplace for years. In the time it will take you to research printers, graphic designers, media rate cards, mail houses, and pollsters, you will lose the opportunity to do the campaign's primary job, talking to voters! Consultants will know the vendors, the prices, the market, the political environment, and the strategy.

3. Consultants Keep You Honest

It's easy to say you will make fundraising calls, go out canvassing voters, and practice your stump speech. Following through on those commitments is the hard part. The same way a physical trainer will help you make sure you actually exercise, your consultant will help you make sure you actually campaign. They will check in regularly for updates on your progress toward meeting your goals for fundraising, doors knocked, and public speaking skills.

“Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

"Eric Hogensen is not just a strong political strategist, he is also a friend and adviser to his clients as he works with them on challenging campaigns. I have been very happy with the products and services his firm has delivered for my campaigns, and I would recommend them to any candidate or organization that hopes to have an impact in their election."

- Doug Otto, President, California Community College Board Of Trustees

What We're Reading

This week Eric is recommending The Start-Up J Curve: The Six Steps to Entrepreneurial Success.

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"Startups are hard. As I work on building TenMoreVotes, I'm trying to learn as much as possible about starting this kind of company. This book was really helpful. Breaking the startup 'cycle' into six stages, this book creates a framework to build a company. I strongly recommend it if you are interested in the startup process."

-Eric

Join Us Friday, May 12th, in Milwaukee!

Dave is getting married in Milwaukee next month, and the day before the wedding, we will be having a get-together in the bar beneath our old office. Come by to celebrate and catch up.

Where: The Highbury Pub
Address: 2322 S. Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI
Time: 3pm

If you're in town, we hope you will join us!

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So, you're thinking about running in 2018?

“I’m thinking about running in 2018 - where do I start?”

With the Trump Administration faltering, we expect 2018 to be a good year for Democrats. A lot of people are thinking about running for the first time next year. Maybe you're one of them!

Here are our top four tips for starting your campaign...

1. Ask yourself, "Why do I want to run?" If you can't answer that question - or if it seems like you'd be running for the wrong reasons - you might want to reconsider. You will dedicate more time, energy, and resources to your campaign than to anything else in your life up to this point. If you're not committed, or if you're not doing it for a reason bigger than yourself, remember you still have time to walk away.

2. Figure out the financials now. Once you have decided you definitely want to run, the next thing is figuring out if it is even possible, financially. How much money will you need to win? How much money do you think you can raise? How much money do you know you can raise? Put together some spreadsheets with a dollar amount next to everyone important to you to get started.

3. Start spreading the news. Let people in the know that you're thinking about running. Not only will they appreciate it, but they can give you advice (some of which will be good) and recommend individuals for you to meet. You can also bring them in as early supporters for your fundraising efforts.

4. Start looking for a consultant. Political consultants who work with new candidates know the process very well and can help you in ways you didn't know you needed help. The earlier you bring on your General Consultant (GC), the earlier he or she can start the processes of planning and putting you in front of the institutional players you need to win. Hopefully you will consider HSG Campaigns for your GC needs. :)

“Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

“The team at HSG Campaigns has a strong understanding of elections and the voters who participate in them. They work fairly with you and are able to provide great advice, clarity, and support. I would recommend them to my fellow city and district administrators for their own ballot measures.”

- Brian Saeki, City Manager, Covina, California

What We're Reading

This week Dave is recommending, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck.

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"In 2011, Buck and his brother decided to get a covered wagon and mules to re-create the journey of the Oregon Trail. Part history, part diary, The Oregon Trail rediscovers and brings alive an often-forgotten but monumentally important episode of American history."

-Dave

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Winning Your Local Campaign!

3 Tips to Get Your Local Campaign Off the Ground

With tight budgets and neighborhood politics, local campaigns can feel like a challenge to begin and an even greater challenge to win. So, how do you turn your grassroots campaign into a winning campaign for your neighborhood?

By considering these three tips to start thinking "locally"!

"With Friends Like These" - Support from community leaders, small business owners, and even your neighbors can make all the difference - but voters need to know! Make sure your voters know that the community leaders they know and trust support you. You won't regret it!

Get Social - Once you have your message and team - get social! Door-to-door canvassing, phone banking, or Meet & Greets are the way to go to make your first introduction with voters in your neighborhood. Make sure they know who you are and why you're running to establish your name ID.

Fundraise, Fundraise, Fundraise! - It's never too early to start fundraising, especially in local races where every cent counts. So, remember our ABCs of Fundraising to develop a targeted donor list and breakdown your fundraising goals to ensure your call time is a success!

“Why I Chose Ten More Votes”

“Ten More Votes is the perfect tool for phone banking. Volunteers prefer using the app to big stacks of phone lists, and they make more calls as a result. I definitely recommend it for any field program." - Sean Donahue

Simple, streamlined, effective, Ten More Votes is a mobile voter contact app that allows you to call registered voters directly from your smartphone without the need of call sheets or persuasion scripts.

Click here to learn more about Ten More Votes.

What We're Reading

This week Eric is recommending, Building a Business of Politics: The Rise of Political Consulting and the Transformation of American Democracy.

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"This book is a great read if you really want to learn about the history of political consultants in the US. From the earliest days of the Progressives seeing 'publicity' as an antidote to political machine corruption at the turn of the the 20th century to the first political consulting firm starting in California in 1933 this book was informative and interesting. As we enter a political time like no other, it's important to know your history!"

-Eric

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How are you recovering?

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Need Tips for the Post-Election Recovery?

We’re all still recovering from Tuesday’s election - physically and emotionally. While we are horrified by a soon-to-be President Trump, we look forward to continuing the fight for progress in 2018.

Need tips for the post-election recovery? Here’s how we’ll be recovering from this election:

  • Vacations! - Over Thanksgiving, Eric will be going to WI to visit family, Dave is going to Zion National Park in Utah, and Jeremy is having a restful “Staycation” in LA. We all need rest and relaxation.
  • Getting back in shape! - You know you’ve been putting it off too. We’ll be hitting the gym.
  • Binge-Watching TV - There’s been some great new programming this year. Some of our recommendations include “Stranger Things”, “Glitch”, “Fleabag”, “Atlanta”, and “Westworld”.

Our friend Joe Fuld also compiled a list of post-election ideas in a 2014 article for Campaigns & Elections

Finally, we’re taking solace in Secretary Clinton’s parting words yesterday: “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

Let us know your post-election recovery advice too!



Why I Chose HSG Campaigns

This year, we were proud to work with the State Senate Democrats in California, helping preserve their majority.

“HSG Campaigns is a great resource for campaigns and organizations to use in a grind. They are able to do a wide scope of work and give you the tools you need to make the right decisions.

When it comes to direct mail, digital ads, or scripts, HSG is among the best in creative, on-target content. I know from working with them that I can trust them to work through nearly any time constraint and limitation. I highly recommend them for your next campaign or project.”

- Jeff Gozzo, California Senate Democrats


What We're Reading

We’re going to skip a book this time and direct you to an article on Cracked.com: How Half of America Lost Its F**king Mind. This piece provides some good insights into why such a huge gap opened up for Trump among non-college educated white voters in the rust belt, a once-reliable demographic for Democrats.

On to better days,

- Eric, Dave, Jeremy
HSG Campaigns
www.HSGCampaigns.com

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Voter Mobilization is Changing: Here's How...

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The Future of Voter Mobilization

According to the California Secretary of State's 15-Day Report of Registration, there are 17,915,053 registered voters in California. That's nearly 1.8 million more voters in California than we had in the 2008 Presidential Primary!

So how do you mobilize California's growing voter base in 2016 and around the country? You might want to check out these 5 New Voter Mobilization Apps, Companies, and Ideas that are paving the way in modern political campaigning. 

  • Ten More Votes - Ten More Votes is a mobile voter contact app that allows campaign staff and supporters to call voters directly from their smartphones without the need of campaign phones, call sheets, or scripts.
  • "Catch and Release" - When using "Catch and Release" a robo-call touches a voter and asks them to record a message for their representative about an important issue. Later, before Election Day, the voter receives an auto-dialed follow up that includes their recording played back to them, and information on how, where, and when to vote.
  • Variable-Printed Direct Mail - This has been around for some time, but it is still rarely used. With variable-printed direct mail each piece looks tailored fit for the recipient, with their name, voting history, and even directions to their polling place.
  • Hustle and Handstack - Both apps provide a great way to scale person-to-person text messages with voters or supporters, directing them to take action. 
  • RVM On-Demand - With RVM On-Demand you can automatically send single Ringless Voicemail Drops to target individuals and make follow up calls for you.   

"Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

"Blending innovative products with top-notch service, HSG Campaigns has the experience every candidate needs to help shape their winning campaign. When I ran for Los Angeles City Council, Eric and his team went above and beyond to support my campaign from Day One to Election Day. With that level of dedication and service, I strongly recommend them for your campaign."

- Joe Buscaino, Los Angeles City Councilmember, District 15


What We're Reading

This week, Eric is recommending another favorite from his collection: Grit - The Power of Passion and Perseverance

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"According to Duckworth, 'the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and perseverance she calls Grit.' Duckworth ingrains this lesson in her book reminding us that, 'at various points in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we say down grit loses, if we get up grit prevails.' For any reader interested in understanding the ins-and-outs of our motivations and ambitions, I highly recommend Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance."

-Eric

-Eric, Dave, Jeremy
HSG Campaigns
www.HSGCampaigns.com

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