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The art of being a field director

What is a field director?

A field director is defined as someone who organizes community outreach and controls the field operations of, typically, political or advocacy outreach. This usually involves managing canvassers and setting out the areas and engagement with citizens required by the project. Field Directors have one of the toughest jobs around, requiring excellent communication and leadership abilities. Often, a great field manager is built from years of experience, the ‘tried and tested’, ‘learn from your mistakes’ kind of experience from using community software.

Having a good field plan can be the blueprint of success for your overall campaign strategy, it just takes a few little things to get it right:

It really does take a community

Before you begin planning out your strategy as a field manager, you must ensure you have the bodies to help carry out the operation. The old saying, “it takes a community to rear a child” really does apply to a political campaign. Swap that child for a candidate and you are a go! This is where the Pyramid Of Engagement can be useful.

The Pyramid Of Engagement helps you develop a plan to recruit individuals into a political organization. For every campaign, the aim is to move your loyal volunteers up the ladder. Identify people who are observing your campaign and turn them into followers. You become a follower by signing up in some capacity to tow the party line. Once you are a follower you can graduate to an endorser by promoting party/candidate material to others.

Endorsers then may become contributors by donating to the candidates fund. Eventually people will take the next step and become leaders within the organisation.

The aim of any good campaign manager is build a strong loyal support group and then is particularly relevant to the field director when you are organizing on the ground.

Cutting turf

Another big job for any campaign field manager is managing walk lists in an efficient manner.

You may begin by assembling your canvassing team at a specific meeting point and then show them their allotted routes. This is very important so houses are not missed and areas are not overlapped. Resources are tight and so it is imperative that you get the most from your canvass.

Consider your talking points

When you have all your canvassers in one place, go over the necessary talking points that they need to raise with each potential voter. You don’t expect your volunteers to be experts on every political matter but giving them a solid foundation about what the candidate stands for will save them a headache later when things get stressful. It may seem obvious but remind your canvassers to always ask for the vote.

Pairing up your canvassers

One of the most important tasks for the field campaign director is ensuring you get the most out of your canvassers. The pairing up of an experienced canvasser with a relatively new volunteer is a common practice and something which people at the doors appreciate. It is a good visual to see someone learning on the job and shows that there is always new blood being welcomed into the campaign. Having a good gender balance is also encouraged when canvassers are separated out.

Use of technology

Ground game strategies are always changing and technology is now central to organization and appraisal of field operations. Leveraging software to increase efficiency or better understand your voter base will be money well spent in the long run.

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