Buying media for clients in New Hampshire during the height of the political season is kind of like being one of the candidates relegated to the undercard of the Republican debates. The messages may be great, but you have to work a little harder and smarter to get people to hear them.

Money and access are the major obstacles facing local advertisers when it comes to any presidential election cycle and that’s being amplified this election season because there are soooo many candidates.

Buying into certain media inventory – most notably network television – has become increasingly difficult over the past few months and it doesn’t look as though it will get any easier until after Election Day in November of 2016. Inventory that is typically available and affordable is now far more expensive or already booked out.

Because of our state’s status as the first in the nation primary, the rush of candidates looking to get their message out in New Hampshire starts early and goes on for a while. Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have spent a combined 398 days in the Granite State this year. That does not include the time they’ve spent on our television screens, radio stations and billboards, which is the real issue for local advertisers.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates both radio and network television with the intention of making sure all candidates receive equal time and opportunity to advertise. But this fairness is not passed on to local advertisers. Demand for inventory across media channels has been unprecedented during this political season because of the sheer number of candidates and that’s driven up the rates.

I have seen the most dramatic increase in rates for network television, mainly due to the fact that New Hampshire has just one major network affiliate. Even clients who booked well in advance at lower rates are now getting bumped from their original slot and presented with make-good schedules. It has caused some of our clients to reevaluate their spending until the election is over.

Network television is still a powerful medium for clients with the budget to absorb the rate increases. A well-placed ad that contrasts with the glut of political ads can stand out and be effective even at a higher cost.

For those with lower budgets, radio and cable television are alternatives worth exploring. While radio stations are also regulated by the FCC, they have the ability to expand their commercial inventory to accommodate the increased demand. Cable television is not regulated and, while it may not have the same clout as network television, cable gives clients the opportunity to reach a more targeted audience, more frequently and for much lower rates.

Additional opportunities include Pandora, print, billboards (if available), movie theaters and digital initiatives such as Facebook, etc. Target audience, budget and goals determine where you should place your media in these alternate media channels.

The opportunity to effectively spread your message always exists and that that’s certainly the case when it comes to placing media during a New Hampshire political window. You just have to make sure you put together a winning campaign.