TikTok has taken the world by storm. With over 1 billion active users and more added every day, this burgeoning startup has led to a whole microcosm of creators, influencers, and thought leaders, but is it a good option for political candidates?

Some political figures have found great success on the app.

Sarah Stogner* in the Texas Primary for Railroad Commissioner made a TikTok video in which she appeared semi-nude while riding a pumpjack (her original post included the hashtag #humpjack). That video amassed tens of thousands of views and earned her large amounts of news media coverage.

Though the press was for the most part negative, that video is likely what put her into the runoff against incumbent Wayne Christian. It seems that in her case—a candidate with no money and no name ID—any press was considered good press. But if you are like most campaigns, this is probably not the kind of press you want.

However, TikTok is not just a place for partially clothed individuals straddling heavy machinery. With over a billion users, there is a niche for every kind of content from guns to gardening, geology to DIY glitter nails.

TikTok does also have a political space, however, participants tend to belong more to the fringe ends of the political spectrum.

For the inexperienced, looking at the available social platforms can be daunting and candidates feel as though they have to be on all of them to get attention. However, it’s important to know your audience and invest your presence where they are. Spreading a campaign across many platforms without a content plan tailored to those spaces takes up valuable time and does not always generate a meaningful return. 

What is best about TikTok is also what makes it bad for campaigns.

TikTok is not a social media platform.

TikTok has more in common with YouTube than with Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. TikTok should not be considered a social media platform, but more of a content discovery tool. While it does have social features, its algorithm weights toward content a user will consume, not necessarily content produced by people they follow.

(This is why an account with millions of followers might only have 10,000 views on their last video, while an account with less than a thousand might still get millions of views on their latest video.)

The app’s focus is not so much on connecting people (like with Facebook), but with serving people the kind of content that will keep them swiping through the endless scroll.

This means your followers can’t “share” your content to their feed the way they could on Facebook or Twitter. Nor can they invite their friends to “like” your content in the same way.

Rarely do voters seek out the kind of content that campaigns produce. A few engaged activists may seek out candidates, but most people will scroll away the instant they realize they are watching a candidate for office.

Paid advertising of any kind is not an option on TikTok

TikTok does have ads, but its ads network functions the same way as its algorithm. On Facebook (aka Meta), it is possible for us to upload a voter file and target only people registered to vote in a particular district.

On TikTok, we must target by interest and affiliation. There are some geographic options, but these are often inaccurate for the same reason Facebook’s boost feature is often inaccurate.

While influencer marketing can be powerful, TikTok has followed many other platforms in banning political ads altogether, including paid influencer deals.

This means that while users can discuss their own politics, if it comes out that a creator posted about anything related to politics or an election on behalf of another person or entity, the creator could have their content removed, their account suspended, or even have their account shut down.

Your voters are not on TikTok

TikTok’s algorithm has been a game-changer for how we consume content online. YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram have all made changes to their own algorithms to experiment with interest-based feeds over the old connection-based feeds.

But like those other platforms, TikTok has no interest in showing your content to people who can vote for you. These platforms are solely interested in showing your content to people who want to talk politics. Most of the time, these people make up only 3-4% of the voters we need to reach.

And despite having 1 billion users, TikTok is still a start-up. It is small potatoes compared to Google/ YouTube and Facebook/Instagram/Meta. Far more voters will use Facebook and Google than TikTok.

The most distinctive difference is that unlike YouTube and Facebook/Instagram/Meta, we can’t pay TikTok ad dollars to show our content to the voters who matter.

The worst part of TikTok for campaigns

It is very hard to get any benefit from TikTok as a campaign. Unless you are a national figure (AOC, Dan Crenshaw, etc.) you are unlikely to get any good traction on TikTok.

The most dangerous part of TikTok is how addictive it can be. Their interest-based algorithm can become a time suck for even the most focused candidate.

Sometimes, success can be even more time consuming. Once you have a video blow up, it can be tempting to pour more time into video creation, trying to recreate or surpass your previous number of views.

That is time spent on an app instead of at the door or at the polls, or persuading voters and talking to donors.

In closing: MNA advises our campaigns against using TikTok.

While we are definitely keeping our fingers on the pulse of TikTok, we do not recommend TikTok for campaigns at this time. Though their style of interest-based algorithm has been transplanted to other platforms, those other platforms still allow us to use voter-based ads and targeting.

Perhaps someday something will change and TikTok’s targeting will improve and/or they will allow us to place ads. Until then, we advise our candidates to avoid TikTok for campaign purposes.

*At the time of this writing, Sarah Stogner has never been a client of Murphy Nasica & Associates or our affiliated organizations.

Count your steps, count your votes. 

Don’t leave votes on the table and knock those doors.

When it comes to drumming up support and getting supporters to vote door knocking is one of the best things a candidate can do for their campaign. The impact of a candidate personally knock on someone’s door can’t be replaced by television, digital, mail, and text message advertising

Deciding to run for office means making a choice which requires a lot of leg work—literally. Campaigns have been won simply because candidates committed to knocking doors full-time for the duration of the campaign. Conversely, being too good for doors, not committing to knock them, or doubting their impact has left a potential winner to come up short.

Of course, the smaller the district the easier it is to knock every door. But that’s where other campaign advertising comes into play. There’s more than one way to reach a voter, but the candidate isn’t placing ads so they should be knocking doors. 

Candidates will always get better reception than family members, volunteers, or campaign workers, but here are some basic guidelines to help make a good impression and motivate voters to support you and most importantly, vote.

1. Approaching Doors 

Mind any plants or items decorating the front porch. If someone stomped up to your door and knocked around plants, decor, or deliveries you probably wouldn’t be inclined to talk to them. 

Knock or ring the doorbell, then take two or three steps back. This helps you appear non-threatening and puts distance between you and any aggressive pets.

Holding up a pushcard or something else with your campaign logo and smiling while you wait for the door to open is a great practice. And something you might want to practice, a forced smile is noticeable. 

2. Dressing for Success

Branding is essential. Wear any campaign shirts, pullovers, hats or other branding are a great way to signal that you’re with a campaign. Sneakers and shorts are acceptable and most voters understand, especially if you’re out walking in the Texas heat.

Sweating might be inevitable, but you should make sure you are at least presentable. Imagine if you were headed to a child’s ball game. 

This might be the most basic thing we share today, but make sure your hair and/or beard are trimmed, fingernails are clean, and basic hygiene is attended to. Voters will notice. 

3. Where to?

The idea of going to a neighborhood and knocking every door is an easy trap to fall into. But even the most dedicated candidate simply will not have the time. Less than half of eligible voters typically register to vote, much less actually turnout in any given election. Their doors will take up time and yield little results, best to target your approach. 

We recommend a voter file like the ones provided by our Data Team here at Murphy Nasica. They can be broken down into primary voters, independents, persuadable individuals, and just about any mix that makes sense for your campaign’s needs.  Knowing your target helps your conversation at the door, guides messaging, and creates success

Things can get more complicated if you have a mixed household where the spouse and/or children vote differently. Luckily, a voter file can still tell you this and ensure you are reasonably prepared when you approach a door.

4. Not after dark, please

Knocking most days from about 10am until 7pm or sunset (whichever comes first) is usually good practice. Waiting a few hours after dawn gives people time to get their day started. Though you are legally permitted in Texas to knock until 8pm, it’s a time when most voters are winding down, especially if they are elderly or have small children who need to be put to bed.

Holidays are a special exception and if a particular holiday is observed in your area, it’s important to be sensitive to that. Many holidays like Easter, Veterans Day, and Jewish feasts tend to happen during campaign season. Fourth of July and Memorial Day are also not the best times to be out door knocking.

Weekends are usually the best time to knock doors, but knocking before noon or one on Sundays is sometimes taboo in religious communities. 

Ultimately, a great practice is to think of if someone knocking on your door at a particular time would be frustrating. No one wants to open the door to a campaign before their morning coffee has even brewed. 

5. The not so nice reception

Not everyone is excited for the opportunity to talk about the races in their area. It’s inevitable a door knocker may interrupt families at dinner, ring a doorbell that woke a sleeping baby, and many other unforeseeable circumstances. Most people are friendly and will still listen to your message if you offer a sincere apology. 

If they ask (or perhaps even demand) that you leave, we do recommend you do. Sometimes, they will still want to take your pushcard or campaign literature and this is a positive sign. It’s important to remember you can’t win them all and trying to force the issue is not likely to help.

Unfortunately, sometimes there will be voters who want to argue a particular party stance. Occasionally, you might run into a friend or family member of your opponent.

Avoid arguing with voters, especially on their own doorstep. Be calm and courteous. If they bring up particular attacks you are prepared for, respond in a polite manner. 

It’s important to remember that “I don’t have an answer for you right now” is also always an acceptable response. Don’t get dragged into arguments with voters who are strongly partisan, or who are just trying to take up your time. It’s important to remember that while you should value each conversation and each voter’s time, one way to do this is to understand there are always more voters who want to hear from you. Spending twenty minutes at one door arguing with someone unlikely to vote for you means multiple voters who are likely to vote for you won’t hear from you.

6. “No soliciting”

Political activity is not considered “soliciting” because it is not for the sake of commerce and is protected under the First Amendment. However, not all residents will be aware of this.

Some people will still be upset regardless of whether they had a “no soliciting” sign or not. However, since meeting a candidate is such an unusual experience for most people they’re often still willing to speak with you

7. Make it fun, bring someone!

It is helpful for candidates to have a “handler” when out door knocking. This can be a spouse, friend, campaign volunteer, or campaign employee. 

This person’s job is mainly to track time. Most candidates enjoy speaking with people and most people have never gotten the chance to voice their concerns to a candidate. A handler can help keep things moving along and step into a conversation when things start going too long.

A handler can also be responsible for voter contact info if someone asks a question that requires a follow-up. 

You’ve got this! 

Like most things, the best way to get better at door knocking is practice. The more you do it, the better at it you’ll become. 

Meeting and speaking with voters is a great way to become more acquainted with the community. It can help the campaign to find some great insights on the dominant concerns, overall community attitude, and of course we love how it helps to bring home the win!

So get out there, knock some doors, and win that race. 

“Prop B Gets City Manager Salary Under Control”

Charlie Geren’s “Don’t Let Bo In”

West Texas Changed My Life

Texas Congressional District 11 is one of the most Republican districts in America. Facing a crowded, better-funded field of 11 candidates all seeking the GOP nomination (which effectively wins you the seat in November), we had to find a way to break through with an emotional story that would have a long ripple effect and give us early buzz and fundraising power.

Brandon Batch has an amazing story. His Dad was absent from their lives and his mother died due to complications from multiple sclerosis. He was born in Odessa, but adopted by a family in Midland. This is significant because Odessa and Midland are notorious rivals of one another – but Brandon had crossover between both crucial cities (which would be key to united the area and winning the nomination).

Through mining his personal story, we discovered a video that his mom had recorded before she passed away. And like something right out of a movie, Brandon had at one point discovered that she had recorded a message just for him that he had not known about for many years. Seeing a loved one long gone encouraging you to do you best is so moving.

We crafted this story to unite West Texas behind Brandon Batch because he is one of their own – taken in by them and raised by their values. West Texans have an immense amount of pride in where they come from – harnessing that behind Brandon will propel him to victory!

When we posted the video on the first day of the launch, it went viral locally. It was shared over 1,000 times in West Texas in a matter of days and bouying his early fundraising efforts. He was able to pull in $150k almost instantly in a crowded 11-person field – even getting donations from people who had given to other candidates!

 

Brandon Batch’s “West Texas Changed My Life”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: January 31, 2019
CONTACT: Craig Murphy
PHONE: 817-845-0111
EMAIL: craig@murphynasica.com

Grassroots Director Stephanie Terek Named Partner at Murphy Nasica

Murphy Nasica & Associates (MNA), one of the largest, winningest political consulting firms in the nation, today announced a new company partner: national Grassroots Director Stephanie Terek. As head of all MNA’s grassroots operations since 2015, Terek has overseen the firm’s field programs in 19 different states – managing thousands of canvassers who knocked on 4.5 million doors.

Terek’s outstanding field programs led to critical Republican victories in key Congressional, State Legislative, and Statewide offices across the nation. Terek has built a reputation as one of the most respected people managers in politics. Her skilled, personal approach to management has led to higher retention and consistently higher-performing canvassers across all of MNA’s campaigns.

“Stephanie’s ability to cultivate new talent and deliver meaningful results has brought the quality and efficiency of our field program to a new level,” said MNA Partner Matt Brownfield. “Her skill, grit, drive and experience are unmatched in politics, and we are blessed to have her as a partner.”

“I believe in what we do, and in creating and maintaining a vehicle to let empower field operatives to help elect excellent leaders at every level,” said Terek. “I am honored to be a partner and to lead Murphy Nasica’s effort to build field programs that are unmatched.”

Before joining MNA, Terek previously oversaw the field activism programs for Generation Opportunity. She also previously worked in the Florida House of Representatives and was a former Bush presidential appointee in the Office of the White House Liaison at the Labor Department. Terek earned her BA in Government-Policy from Patrick Henry College in Virginia and is active in her church and volunteer efforts.

Murphy Nasica & Associates is a full-service consulting firm with offices in Dallas, Austin, and Washington D.C. Its mission is to elect Republican candidates at every level of the ballot. First founded in Texas in 2013, Murphy Nasica has operated in 23 states. The firm’s work is currently nominated for 30 national Reed Awards from Campaigns & Elections Magazine.

## 30 ##

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: January 31, 2019
CONTACT: Craig Murphy
PHONE: 817-845-0111
EMAIL: craig@murphynasica.com

Sam Spahn Named New Partner at Murphy Nasica

Murphy Nasica & Associates (MNA), one of the largest, winningest political consulting firms in the nation, today announced a new company partner: Director of Operations Sam Spahn.

As MNA’s Director of Operations, Spahn manages the budgets of the company and its clients to streamline resource allocation, maximize ROI, and ensure efficiency. His business innovation and operational savvy have helped grow Murphy Nasica into the largest political consulting firm in Texas and the Southwest.

“Sam Spahn has been at the operational helm of our company through its largest period of growth,” said MNA Partner Matt Brownfield. “He is a good man, a trusted advisor, and an integral part of each and every one of our campaigns.”

Known for his friendly disposition, Spahn directs the human resources policy for MNA’s 33 employees. He also helps direct the William B. Travis Campaign Academy, MNA’s annual campaign school that has trained over 180 new and ongoing campaign operatives in the last two years alone.

“I am very excited and humbled to be a part of what Murphy Nasica has accomplished and what it continues to build,” said Spahn. “I look forward to our future successes as a company.”

Spahn is a graduate of DePauw University in Indiana, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Political Science and History. He also earned a Master’s in Public Affairs at the LBJ School at the University of Texas, and he previously served at the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Washington D.C. and in the office of Speaker of the Texas House.

Murphy Nasica & Associates is a full-service consulting firm with offices in Dallas, Austin, and Washington D.C. Its mission is to elect Republican candidates at every level of the ballot. First founded in Texas in 2013, Murphy Nasica has operated in 23 states. The firm’s work is currently nominated for 30 national Reed Awards from Campaigns & Elections Magazine.

## 30 ##

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: January 31, 2019
CONTACT: Craig Murphy
PHONE: 817-845-0111
EMAIL: craig@murphynasica.com

Director of Analytics Blake Reynolds Named Partner at Murphy Nasica

Murphy Nasica & Associates (MNA), one of America’s largest political consulting firms, today named Blake Reynolds as its newest partner. Reynolds is a brilliant political scientist and statistician who built one of the most reliable political targeting and predictive models in the nation.

As Head of MNA’s Analytics department over the last six years, Reynolds has overseen the firm’s successful efforts in the areas of methodology and modeling; polling and research; database management; data analysis; and, analysis application design and programming.

During that time, Reynolds developed more than 40 different product quality models to predict and analyze voter behavior – including vote choice, turnout probability, and issue prediction. Additionally, Reynolds designed and built national individual voter-level models for every voter in the U.S. and has created and conducted more than 1,000 internal polling projects.

“In so many cases, Blake’s keen academic approach to strategy has made political theory a reality and elevated hundreds of candidates to victory,” said MNA Partner Ross Hunt. “With Blake on our team, we have the finest statistical mind in politics driving each of our campaigns.”

A political scientist first and foremost, Reynolds brings his expertise in predictive modeling, statistics and mathematics, methodology architecture, data analysis, and algorithm design to all of MNA’s races.

Before joining MNA, Blake earned his BA in Political Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin.

Murphy Nasica & Associates is a full-service consulting firm with offices in Dallas, Austin, and Washington D.C. Its mission is to elect Republican candidates at every level of the ballot. First founded in Texas in 2013, Murphy Nasica has operated in 23 states. The firm’s work is currently nominated for 30 national Reed Awards from Campaigns & Elections Magazine.

## 30 ##

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: January 31, 2019
CONTACT: Craig Murphy
PHONE: 817-845-0111
EMAIL: craig@murphynasica.com

Murphy Nasica Announces Creative Director Joey Parr as New Partner

Murphy Nasica & Associates (MNA), one of the largest, winningest political consulting firms in the nation, today introduced their new company partner: Creative Director Joey Parr.

As MNA’s Creative Director, Parr has overseen the writing, producing, directing, and buying of all of the firm’s television, radio, mail, and digital advertising over the last five years.

Parr’s eye-catching, cinematic ads have helped shape the Texas political landscape. In the last year alone, he wrote, produced, and directed breakthrough TV and radio spots for state legislators Steve Allison, Ernest Bailes, Keith Bell, Dennis Bonnen, Charlie Geren, Cody Harris, Ken King, Lyle Larson, Chris Paddie, and Kel Seliger. Parr also produced the San Antonio Firefighters’ winning bilingual spots for ballot Props A, B, & C.

“Joey is a top-level strategist and a master of political TV,” said Craig Murphy. “Even when he knows the outcome of a massive campaign depends entirely on the TV spot he produces, Joey coolly delivers. He doesn’t react to the pressure, he applies it.”

Parr also pioneered the 6-second political spot – delivering quick, less-skippable jabs on digital platforms. His television and radio work is nominated for 14 national awards from Campaigns & Elections Magazine. A client once called him “the Spielberg of political advertising.”

“Our candidates’ success determines the success of millions of Americans,” said Parr. “As a new partner at Murphy Nasica, I look forward to helping our nation’s best leaders achieve their vision for the future.”

Parr is a graduate of Texas Christian University, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Political Science and Radio/TV/Film. Parr also earned a Master’s in Public Affairs at the LBJ School at the University of Texas and previously served as a Chief of Staff in the Texas House of Representatives. Parr’s independent films have been featured at film festivals across the country.

## 30 ##

Effective, research-backed creative.

Did you know, one-third of online activity is spent watching video? In fact, over half a billion people are watching video on Facebook every day and more than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day. Taking this into account, we produce 6-second video ads that are displayed across video capable platforms, placements, and external websites. Our clients achieve higher video viewability and completion rates with these short ads that deliver a quick punch.

Senator Kel Seliger was facing a 3-way primary election and brutal attacks from all sides. Our combined work for the campaign secured a sound victory without a runoff and our targeted 6-second digital ads on a variety of issues kept Senator Seliger at the forefront of nearly every conservative internet user’s mind.

 

Our Team

Craig Murphy

President

Matt Brownfield

Partner

Justin Epker

Partner

Dr. Ross Hunt

Partner

Meet Our Staff »

Our Clients

Connect with Us

800.342.6756 (Toll Free)
512.233.2712 (Fax)
info@murphynasica.com

Send Us a Message