Narrowcast Media Consultants: The Submarine Service of the Ballot Box Wars
Database and file management consultants provide campaigns with the raw data which is used primarily to facilitate the effective use of narrowcast media such as direct mail, telephones, and political videocassettes. These consultants, who are also often involved in direct mail firms and firms that provide phone bank services to campaigns, offer political campaigns several advantages that are difficult to duplicate through other means of campaign communication. The principal advantage that political data consultants can offer to their clients is the ability to target precisely. Certainly, when used well, other media allow for targeting. But with the computerization of voting data, census data, and other types of information in recent years, consultants who provide political data can target messages to specific audiences with remarkable precision.
This ability to target has made database and file management consultants invaluable to those campaigns that make use of direct mail, phone banks, and political videocassettes. Moreover, such data also facilitate productive door-to-door campaigning, and GOTV (get-out-the- vote) efforts. Campaigns making major efforts with direct mail, phones, political videos, door-to-door campaigning, and GOTV efforts need precisely targeted information to most effectively direct their efforts. In this chapter we will first examine the nature of the services provided by database consultants. Then we will examine the consulting practices of those specialists whose message delivery systems, direct mail, phone- banks, and videocassettes are especially dependent on database information consultants. It should be kept in mind that often an umbrella consulting firm provides all or several of the services being discussed in