In marketing, a swipe file is a collection of excellent sales letters and materials that provide an easy reference of ideas for creative projects. Maintaining a swipe file is a common practice for advertising copywriters and creative directors. You can use the same technique for your political campaign.

You need all the help you can get if you are the person who writes brochure copy, campaign website material and advertising material for a political campaign. With a swipe file, you can study persuasive techniques and provide a template for your own writing. Reference material through a swipe file can save production time, help you overcome writer’s block and jump-start your creative process.

Whenever you find a great campaign mailing, brochure or great copy, add it to your swipe file. You will have no shortage of material during election season. Sign up for larger campaign and non-profit email lists. (You may want to use a dedicated email address for this purpose.) This can help you collect ideas from professional copywriters and marketers.

Emails, graphics and screen shots are easy to save. For non-electronic material, take a picture and save it digitally. Set up a folder on your computer to keep your files. Online tools like Evernote are great for storing and organizing material. You can capture, organize, and share notes from anywhere and keep them in sync. You can organize your content with into categories, such as interesting quotes, effective emails and advertising ideas. Before long, you’ll have a repository of inspirational content to reference when you create your own campaign material.

Picasso is attributed for the saying, ‘Good artists copy; great artists steal.’

Don’t be a thief. Plagiarism is defined as the taking the original work or works of another and presenting it as your own. Directly lifting text, images or slogans from other sources will very likely come back to bite you. There is a long history of political campaigns and plagiarism, from speeches to slogans to campaign brochures. Everything is searchable on the internet.

Instead, use your swipe file to understand how material can be effective and engaging. Always rework and rewrite material for your own use. Give it your own personality.

Political campaigning is just another way of marketing. Studying successful marketing material is a great way to develop your own effective campaign content.

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