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Nina Bortolussi

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What Your Campaign Needs To Know About Email Fundraising, An Interview with Digital Strategy Associate Madison Smith

We sat down with Raconteur’s newest team member and Digital Strategy Associate, Madison Smith, and unpacked what you need to know about email fundraising in order for your campaign to reach its fundraising goals.

Raconteur Media conducted a poll of statewide Texas voters in May. That polling data shows 35% of these voters want to engage with campaigns via email. Knowing that email is a preferred method of voter contact, how does that shape email fundraising strategy?

“Email copy is the best of both worlds because it has the dynamic, timely functionality of digital advertising and the personalized, in-your-inbox effects of direct mail. The biggest advantage of email marketing is that because voters prefer it to other methods, your asks and calls to action can be more direct, which ultimately makes them more effective. In addition to being more direct, email fundraising can be more frequent than other methods, and it can result in a large and consistent number of small-dollar donations. Because email audiences have to make the conscious choice to open or delete an email, there is a much lower risk of voter-fatigue compared to other forms of voter contact. While this choice does pose a significant challenge to email fundraising, it can also be a huge advantage, because those who open the email are more likely to be an engaged, mobilized audience. Knowing this, your messaging should be tailored to a more politicized audience.”

How does email fundraising messaging differ from other digital copywriting?

“Similar to blog posts, emails can be more long-form than other digital copy. However they need to be more direct or you risk losing reader interest. Because of this, the copy needs to tell a compelling story that will resonate with your audience and ultimately turn into a conversion. Additionally, this copy can and should be more personalized and directly address the individual reader. If you can effectively make a call to action, email will quickly become a cornerstone of your campaign’s fundraising strategy.”

Despite email’s popularity, there are limitations to digital fundraising. What are the biggest obstacles to email fundraising, and what tactics can campaigns use to overcome these issues?

“Emails require that the reader make active choices to open, read, and click. And, as we’ve mentioned, email’s popularity means people have their inboxes flooded with content. All this combined, the biggest obstacles to email fundraising are open rates and click rates. Fortunately, there are a number of tactics campaigns can use to mitigate the effects of these obstacles. Once you have an active audience list, the first step is writing a strong subject line. Then, take advantage of the personalization capabilities in email, and include preview text to boost credibility and trust. Most importantly, focus on writing evocative, timely content that will generate clicks. Use your grassroots campaign’s polling and insight to determine messaging, and prioritize your conversion goals.”

We know email domains like Gmail and Yahoo have learned how to spam block emails – they’ve gotten so good at it that they often block emails that aren’t actually spam. What causes this? And how can campaigns ensure their emails are delivered?

“If your email is properly authenticated, spam blocks are mainly triggered by poor sending credibility. Sending credibility is determined by open rates, email content, and the actual audience you are sending to. The best way to prevent spam blocks is to invest in proper list-building and ensure your team is implementing email content best-practices. Unfortunately, if your audience is inactive, your email content is irrelevant, so ensuring that you have a strong, active audience is key to sender credibility. This requires proper data collection and list segmentation. Email is an affordable, fluid form of fundraising, but the initial list-building price tag can be steep. If your campaign can invest in a receptive audience, your content becomes much more valuable, and your fundraising potential exponentially increases.”

Digital fundraising is more dynamic than other forms of fundraising, so campaigns often use email to raise money off of real-time, current events. What advice would you give a campaign for knowing what issues will resonate positively enough to drive readers to donate?

“The biggest factor in determining what breaking content will trigger the right response for your audience is simply knowing your audience. Whether it’s through polling, analytics, proper list segmentation or keeping up to date with novel political behavior research, you need to understand your audience – who they are, what they want, and how you can most effectively demonstrate that your campaign is the solution to their problem(s).”

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CEO Ryan Gravatt on 5 Minutes WITH Jamie Sims Podcast

Get a perspective on the strategy behind political digital messaging with CEO Ryan Gravatt. Ryan joined Jamie Sims on two episodes of the 5 Minutes WITH podcast to discuss all things digital campaigning. Listen now! 

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Produced by the WITH/agency.

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Creating a Cutting Edge Digital Campaign- CEO Ryan Gravatt on My Campaign Coach Podcast

Raconteur CEO, Ryan Gravatt, joins the How to Run for Office Podcast by My Campaign Coach. Take a listen as Ryan sits down with the founder of My Campaign Coach, Raz Shafer, to discuss how to create a cutting edge digital campaign. Listen to it below or check it out from the My Campaign Coach website here:

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The End of Political Ads on Facebook?

Facebook announced yesterday it will make it easier for users to turn off political ads.

Starting today for some people and rolling out to everyone in the US over the next few weeks, people will be able to turn off all social issue, electoral or political ads from candidates, Super PACs or other organizations that have the “Paid for by” political disclaimer on them.

For the past year, Raconteur strategists have been predicting this day would come. Here are some steps to take.

What You Need to Do

1. Evaluate Your Digital Strategy – This changes your paid digital advertising budgets and plans. Find out what changes your digital team recommends and why. Talk to Raconteur if you don’t get any satisfactory answers

2. Check Your Email List – Many campaigns depend on Facebook to push messages. The reach is going to drop as fewer voters see your boosted posts on Facebook. Develop a better email routine to strengthen your one-to-many communication. Our voter contact poll shows voters prefer email. You may also read more in a Free Advice post about email.

3. Get Reports & Analytics – These changes on Facebook could quickly or slowly change the results you see. Make informed decisions about your path forward. Demand reporting and analytics to measure and forecast how this affects you. Make sure you’re measuring this against a baseline of activity. If you don’t get the kind of reports you need, Raconteur can help.

In Raconteur’s Free Advice blog, we published a series of 3 posts making recommendations to get your campaign ready for 2020. These changes on Facebook mean you should assess your campaign’s health and reliance on the platform to reach and engage your audience and voters. Any overreliance likely needs to change as soon as possible.

Part 1: Is your campaign in the past and using old tactics of political digital marketing?

Part 2: Is your campaign using modern political digital marketing tactics? 

Part 3: Is your campaign ready for the future of political digital marketing? ( this is where we predict problems for campaigns on Facebook )


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Our 2020 Pollie Awards


The Association of Political Consultants’ (AAPC) recognized Raconteur Media with four 2020 Pollie Awards.

The Pollies are the most prized and sought-after awards in the political communications and public affairs industries.  A blind jury of their peers selects AAPC award winners. This year, we were thrilled to walk away with four Pollies!

The Pollie Awards recognize top achievements in political advertising. See Raconteur’s winning material below.


We reached an audience of 10,000 voters at an average of 50 times per voter. We increased her name recognition, we made her campaign competitive and reached all the voters in our target audience.


After launching the website: average session duration increased, number of users increased, number of page views increased, overall usage increased and mobile usage increased on the site.


We used digital advertising to drive traffic to a website where homeowners could calculate their property tax increase and send a letter to the county commissioners. Our advertising generated more than 2,000 letters opposing the property tax increase.


We built an audience using modeled data to build an email list, then prospected that list. We built results that the campaign was excited about.



Make An Appointment with Raconteur

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The Answers to our Award-Winning Digital Advertising, an Interview with Sr. Digital Director Joseph Resta

Raconteur Media is honored to walk away with four 2020 Pollie Awards from the Association of Political Consultants’ (AAPC). We received a Pollie for our sophisticated blend of digital advertising for client Dr. Anna Allred. We sat down with our Sr. Digital Director, Joseph Resta, and unpacked what it took to build this successful digital strategy.

Dr. Anna Allred had never run for office. She was running in a special election for a vacated House seat and was one of six candidates. Four of the six had already run campaigns in the district and were familiar names to the voters. What tactics were used to increase Allred’s name recognition among Republican voters before the special election?

“Like all winning campaign strategies, we started by identifying the best audience for our campaign to focus on.  By targeting advertising towards likely primary voters who were susceptible to our message, we were able to ensure the campaign’s limited budget would reach its maximum potential. After working with our data and polling partners, we created ads that not only highlighted Dr. Allred’s strongest stances on important issues but also focused on driving home her name ID. Through our creative department, we made sure her logo placement on all advertisements was predominant, so voters would not only focus on her stances but on her name, as well.  This tactic is especially critical in primary election fields that are crowded candidates promoting similar issues. Once we were confident in the creative we had produced, we purchased ad space that was most visible to the target audience. We knew what platforms our audience spent the most time on, and we drove focus in those spaces.  Again, making sure every dollar of our client’s budget gets spent in the most efficient and effective way.”

In this campaign, Raconteur helped Allred reach an audience of 10,000 voters at an average of 50 times per voter. All the voters in her target audience were reached. What was the strategy behind identifying the target audience?

“The campaign was fortunately ready to get started early.  While getting a head start is significantly better than starting late, it does present a few obstacles.  It can start to stretch the monthly ad budget pretty thin, and a thin budget doesn’t allow you to get the desired results in terms of frequency. Also, it’s possible to over saturate your audience to a point that they can start to “shrug off” the messages you are sending them.  This usually occurs towards the end of the campaign, which is the last time you want to lose your audience’s attention.  So for Dr. Allred, we started by focusing on an audience of people that could be classified as “very politically active”.  These are people who are typically dialed in the political process, maybe leaders in local party factions and do not really risk in terms of alienation through oversaturation.  By focusing on these voters early, you can hopefully win your campaign some very valuable allies for when the campaign reaches full-steam.  Campaigns the size of Dr. Allred’s do not have the budget to do the super sophisticated data modeling that you sometimes read about. So finding the exact sub-sect of voters who are most likely to choose her over her opponents is not an option.  In this case, we use historical voter data to best build an audience of voters who are most likely to vote in a special election in that district.  We then focus on targeting that audience with boat persuasion and GOTV messages down the stretch.  Budget is the main driving force of deciding what audience you are able to target, so we had to identify voters within the Likely Voter audiences who were most valuable, in order to create an audience we could afford to target at the optimal frequency.”

For video advertising, Raconteur used a combination of platforms to deliver video on social media and through streaming content platforms. What was the decision behind utilizing these platforms instead of traditional TV advertising? 

“The campaign wanted to introduce Dr. Allred to the district through video ads.  We knew the campaign’s budget situation, so while we knew they could afford to run video advertising, we wanted to make sure that those dollars were spent in a way that would reach the audience in the most effective way possible.

At Raconteur Media, we have built a partnership with a firm that created software that uses public data to help us better understand our target audience.  Using this technology we are able to get insights to our audience’s consumer habits.  Using this data paired with our knowledge of inventory pricing for TV, Social media, PreRoll, and Connected TV advertising allows us to create a video budget that builds the most cost-effective plan based on our audience’s screen preferences. 

Traditionally, campaigns have separate TV and digital buys for video content.  This software allows us to optimize a budget across all devices.  When looking at Dr. Allred’s district, we saw that our targets spent more time watching broadcast/cable, but also consumed more digital content than the national average.  Traditional TV buys were going to be expensive because her district is within the Houston Media Market, you’ll also see a lot of waste by advertising to non-target within the media market.  Our software allowed us to run our TV videos at much lower costs, with zero waste, to our targets on digital platforms.”

What was the planning behind your budget development for this campaign?

“Dialogue between a digital team and the campaign is so important when it comes to budget development. A digital advertising budget needs to work both politically and financially.  For example, if a campaign asks for a budget based on targeting an audience of 500,000 voters, we would return a budget suggestion nearing $1 million; which is way outside the realm of possibility for the majority of campaigns.  We build campaigns that either revolve around the size of an audience or the ballpark budget figure the campaign provides.  We would never produce a budget that suggests reach and frequency totals that we believe would be ineffective, so an understanding between us and the campaign eliminates the back and forth.  Dr. Allred’s campaign provided us a budget total that we were able to spend, and we built a budget that highlights how many voters we could target effectively for that amount.  Luckily, our numbers matched the campaign’s in terms of the desired audience size. We built Dr. Allred’s campaign budget out by week so the weekly totals would best reflect the political timing of the special election.  We began by targeting our Politically Active Audience with Name Id/Persuasion ads before expanding into our core audience of Likely Voters. In the week before Early Voting, we began running our Name Id/Persuasion campaign video ads.  We started these towards the end of the campaign because these video views are much more valuable right before voters head to the polls.  We ran heavy Early Voting Awareness ads, driving voters to a page that informed them of EV polling locations and schedule. We knew our audience would vote early at a high rate, so we concentrated most of our remaining budget on reaching these voters right before and on the early days of Early Voting.”


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Why You Need to Add OTT Advertising to Your Media Mix

As more people cut the cord on cable TV and make the switch to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, over-the-top (OTT) advertising is now imperative for marketers to add to their media mix. We’ve gathered resources to help you understand OTT advertising and it’s increasing importance in the digital marketing space. 


Let’s start by defining OTT advertising:

What is OTT and why marketers need to add it to their media mix 


According to Forbes, Politicians are turning to OTT Advertising for better targeting, brand safety, and a broad reach:

Politicians Turn To Ad-Supported OTT For Better Targeting, Brand Safety And Bigness

Digital ad spending is expected to more than double in 2020 compared to the last presidential election with OTT experiencing especially sharp growth: 

How Political Campaigns Can Leverage A New Media Platform


Free streaming services are rising in popularity over subscription video. The rise of these services shows that there’s still an appetite for advertising if it’s relevant:

Free streaming services begin to challenge subscription video

Streaming video has shot up dramatically in the U.S. since late February 2020, as more people turn to their screens for comfort during the nationwide coronavirus:

Streaming spikes during coronavirus

Recent data shows US adults have spent more time accessing the internet and are doing away with traditional TV: 

US Adults Spend More Time Accessing the Internet and Apps on Their Smartphones Than Watching Traditional TV

According to the New York Times more than 15.7 million people signed up for Netflix in the first three months of the year, when the coronavirus started to disrupt daily life around the world. That was a record for the streamer, according to its first-quarter earnings announcement on Tuesday:

Everyone You Know Just Signed Up for Netflix

According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney+ has seen its subscriber count soar since the COVID-19 shutdown. To keep subscribers hooked, Disney has moved some big theatrical releases to Disney+ ahead of schedule:

Disney+ in a Programming Crunch Due to Coronavirus Shutdown


If you have any questions or thoughts about implementing OTT in your digital campaign, please reach out to us.


Make An Appointment to Discuss Streaming TV Advertising with Raconteur

Take your digital campaign across all platforms. Make an appointment to talk with a Raconteur Media Specialist about implementing Streaming TV Advertising to your media mix.

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