ERIC Number: ED217498
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Apr-17
Reference Count: 0
Political Direct Mail: The State of the Art.
Cutbirth, Craig W.; Rasmussen, Cynthia
During the last 30 years, direct mail campaigning has become an integral part of the political process, and more recently has also become an influential fund raising tool for other political and religious groups. Analysis of over 70 examples of direct mail campaigns reveals at least 4 major content norms featured in most direct mail. First, the letters typically begin by attempting to motivate people to read them, usually with a startling, dramatic opening statement, or by headlining an important or recognizable name. The second feature is the early introduction of an enemy, either a specific individual or a more abstract group, such as the liberal press or homosexuals. The third is an attempt to assure the reader of the credibility of the organization sponsoring the letter so that the reader will be certain that his or her support will be effective, usually by casting the present situation in desperate straits. The final content norm is the closing appeal for financial assistance. Nearly every piece of direct mail examined casts the sponsoring organization as a defender of some traditional value. Thus a motivation analysis is of critical importance in understanding the basic function of political direct mail. It uses motivation rather than persuasion; it seeks to galvanize the believers rather than convert the heathen. This form of discourse can be viewed as a rhetorical genre, possessing both normative characteristics and core motives that apply regardless of the source of the discourse. (HTH)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Direct Mail Campaigns; Political Campaigns
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Speech Association (Milwaukee, WI, April 15-17, 1982).