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Bookend Strategy


Disciplines > PoliticsPolitical campaigns > Bookend Strategy

Description | Discussion | See also



In the bookend strategy, you start with a bang, then fall back to a quieter approach until near the end, when you again end with a bang.

The initial push should be as visible as possible, getting to many people. Use television, internet, billboards and maybe a big rally (if you are sure of a good turnout).

The early message should grab attention and make people want to hear more. For example say what you want to achieve, but do not say how. You can also make promises about what you will explain later in the campaign.

A possible way of grabbing attention is with some stunt, such as parachuting into a football stadium. It may be cheesy but if it gets you headlines and does not dangerously damage you, then it will have achieved its goal. If you have skeletons in the closet, particularly those that are easy for others to unearth, you might even get these out, though this is of course a hazardous affair.

Then get your head down into the middle stint in which you go out to the people and show them that you are more than just hot air. Steadily and energetically build your support, sustaining reasonable visibility and take every opportunity to show yourself as a viable and desirable candidate.

Not long before the election, up your spend again with big events, now bringing along the support you have carefully built. Make your final message both confirming to your supporters and attractive to the waverers and even opponents.


The bookend strategy is a good approach for those who cannot sustain a high-cost campaign throughout the whole period, especially if this is protracted.

Starting with a bang gains attention and interest, and although you will lose attention afterwards, this should get you enough of a boost to get the momentum going early. It lets you plant your ideas in the minds of the electorate, which you can quietly feed and water in the middle section.

The bookend strategy uses a combination of the primacy effect in the way people remember more of what comes first, as well as the recency effect, whereby we particularly remember that which happened most recently.

If it is a long campaign, it may also be useful to have higher-visibility intermediate points as well, to keep your general image up.

See also

Attention principle, Primacy Effect, Recency Effect


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