How to run for office
Interested in a career in politics? If the answer is yes, well done and buckle up, it’s not an easy road. Your political campaign strategy is the first place to start and then you need to look at political campaign software. Before we get started be aware that we have a 4 week course in how to run for office delivered in conjunction with Publitics Consulting which you can access here.
Section 1: Campaign Organisation
Once you are confident you have covered every reason why it's a good idea for you to run for office, consider how you will organise your campaign and develop your community organizing strategies.
What roles will you fill within you campaign team?
You need some organization and structure. That's where you need a Campaign Manager or a Director of Elections to step in and take the pressure off.
The Campaign Manager will direct overall campaign strategy - what key points should be mentioned on the doorstep, what areas should be canvassed, where should the posters go, fundraising techniques, and where to come across the best photo-ops.
We know that having a person in charge of digital operations is a must for a modern day operation. A person who is familiar with all social media platforms, perhaps has a touch of graphic design, video editing skills etc. These were all the main qualifications needed for the top level US campaigns in 2018, so keep an eye out for these people.
Data analysts are also brilliant people to have within a campaign team as we focus more and more on voter insights and how we can reach key segments of our supporter base.
At the beginning we asked twice if you could afford to run for political office. Is it feasible with your current occupation etc. As part of the Campaign Organisation section, we always like to explore where money will be spent, it helps when trying to factor in where your money will be coming from and where it will be going. A simple cash flow will help you begin this process.
Things like application fees need to be considered, promotional materials, fuel costs, office rent, staff wages, expenses, catering costs for events, a clothes busary, advertising, and even purchasing voter lists. All of these may be necessary costs for your campaign.
Having such high spend requires you to be creative with how you may bring in different streams of income. Perhaps holding local fundraisers is an option, are there grants available, have you savings stashed away and have you enabled your website to collect online donations? Many of these are standard ways of increasing your campaign budget. Make sure to consider the longest possible timeline when doing up your fininaicl forecast as this will save you stress in the long run.
Asking yourself early on "Who are my voters?” is the best way to begin any campaign.
Getting your hands on a voter file is critical to campaign operations so purchase your local electoral file and if needs be, enlist an expert to help you decipher it (you’d be surprised the number of people who struggle to understand voter files).
These databases contain masses of information if analyzed correctly, you will be privy to valuable information such as date of births, names, addresses, past voting history etc. You can find out where to source a voter file here.
Section 2: Exploring The Office You Are Running For
What do you know about the role that you wish to do upon election?
What are the requirements you need to meet to file for your seat. You can usually find this out by checking with your town clerk, local city council or Secretary of State. Make a list of any and all paperwork required to file along with the deadlines. Find out if you need to collect signatures and/or pay a filing fee in advance.
With regards financing, different regions have different financial regulations you may need to follow. The important thing to know is that all countries in the world have some regulations regarding the role of money in politics.
Section 3: Campaign Brand
What do you want your campaign to be remembered for?
Ask yourself that question when trying to figure out your campaign brand and messaging. It's no longer about having a catchy slogon, we are now moving into the deep and meaningful messaging. Messagin that reflects issues is what we are seeing across Europe this year. Hot button topics stand out and show that you have been listening to your voters.
When really successful politicians work on their campaign messaging, they focus on changing the status quo, what is your aim?
Social Media Profiles
Now you are aware of your voters and their preferences, you may be better equipped to set up your social media profiles. People jump straight into setting up social media pages because they think it’s easy and ya, it’s pretty easy to set up an account but it’s an entirely different scenario when you try to gain value from it.
Consider Facebook, it has the fasted growth amongst women and men aged 40 +, so this is always a good place to find that section of your electorate. When making a Facebook profile remember to use current, authentic images and update your timeline often with campaign news, interesting facts about you and praise for your supporters and the wider community.
Next up, focus on your Twitter page. If you already have a notable Twitter presence, screen it for anything that may not be in agreement with your current political bid, we have seen recently how past tweets have come back to haunt prospective politicians. Check out the following video if you don’t believe us!
Find your personality using Twitter and follow people from your community first (people love being followed on Twitter), then move on to potential donors, action groups, other politicians, and news sources. Maintaining a solid Twitter presence requires a lot of work so don’t dive in unless you're going to be active.
For better visual optics you may want to set up an Instagram page, still a relatively new platform for campaigners, Instagram is great to share visual updates and also share live news or ‘stories’ as they are called. This feature is great to help you test messaging and gain confidence while talking into a camera.
We recently did a short blog on how you can maximise your reach to voters through Instagram, check it out here.
Setting up social media pages is quick and easy work, so we don’t think you will be too long doing this fun activity.
This is so important and will really aid your nerves in advance of a speech or debate. Rehearse your speech five times before you take it out into the light. Then give it to your team and get critiqued on it. Finally, do a full dress rehearsal with your team playing the role of the moderator and your competition. This will give you an opportunity to see the weaknesses of your points or your delivery. If you have the stomach for it, have yourself filmed giving the speech and watch it back to see where you might improve!
Remember to see the speech from the point of view of someone who doesn’t know anything about the topics. Use simple speech and plenty of analogies.
How to argue effectively
The rebuttal may seem like it is the most difficult part of a debate but, if you are prepared, is exactly the opposite and is instead, an opportunity to once more, drive home your message. Before you ever begin the debate, anticipate what the opposition is likely to throw at you and prepare an answer. If, on the off chance, you are caught off guard, avoid any knee-jerk reaction. Remember this is not a slagging match and your political integrity is at stake. Use your key arguments to rebut and reaffirm your standpoint.
Use common language
- Speak the way anyone can understand you.
- Do not use offensive terms during your speech.
- Use stories and first-person accounts to make your arguments more relatable.
- The majority of your content should be understandable by anyone but it is ok to put in the academic research, quotations or statistics that might not be understood at first listen.
The ten minutes beforehand
The ten minutes you take before you go on are crucial:
- Clear your head.
- Re-read your notes.
- Focus on your opening statements.
- Do not engage with your competitors.
- Have your team around you but don’t get into anything with them.
If you feel like a throwback, check out one of our earlier blog posts on political speeches, there is some good ones there, just click the image below.
Not everyone is going to have the soaring prose of Obama or the positive self-image of Donald Trump but there is no reason that you can’t be a very successful public speaker with the right preparation and research through community engagement. In this piece, we will look at some of the skills needed to take to the podium for a political speech or a political debate.
Firstly, research your opposition. In the case of a political debate, you will want to understand the position of your competitors and have some sense of what they are likely to say and how they will say it. Are they defensive? Have they weaknesses in their argument? Do they have a past that can be exploited?
In terms of a solo political speech, it is still important to research the situation that you will be in and what the audience is likely to be thinking. Is it a friendly crowd? Are they expecting you to address certain topics? Can you take a line of argument that is unexpected? Is there a storytelling style that will work particularly well in this context?
Spend at least two hours on background or opposition research before writing a word of your speech.
The overall framework of your speech will be split up into topic areas. You may want to discuss a number of issues that are relevant to the audience. If you think you might discuss three topics (always a good number to work towards) then prepare five topics. That way, if you get pulled into something that isn’t part of your speech (by an audience question or by your competition) then you will likely have something prepared for it. Remember, if a topic comes up that you haven’t done any prep work on, and you are not confident on the figures, you can always move the conversation back to topics you have prepared.
Preparation of a topic means background reading, memorizing of key metrics or quotations, assembly of the text of your speech, and rigorous fact-checking on all these elements.
How to construct an argument
To construct a persuasive argument, you should follow these three rules.
Clear, concise, credible
Be clear: Clarity is key. Your message will be lost if you cannot explain it in a simple way. Avoid using convoluted language and too much political jargon, this is not a vocabulary test! Being easily understood is a sure fire way to get the audience on side. Don’t forget to structure your sentences using active verbs and positive language.
Be concise: Being concise is equally as important as clarity. We have all been to weddings where we have been bored to tears by the speeches. Your message will be lost if your audience is not engaged with what you say and your delivery should be succinct.
Be credible: The objective of any debate is to persuade your intended audience to believe in your message and for those in opposition to find it difficult to disagree with what you have to say. Use evidence and statistics to back up your arguments but make sure you do not overuse them, a common touch or storytelling approach may be more credible.
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Listening to our current users, we are aware that there can be an internal struggle of team management when it comes to organizing quickly. To get people out on doors, the back and forth over Whatsapp, Messenger, and (insert other apps here) can be endless. We aim to streamline this process for you with Ecanvasser. Now organizers can commit via the Walk app (their canvassing app!) and get notified in the run-up to the event so that they don’t forget. By building it into the door knocking process life has gotten a lot easier for campaign managers.