Interested in a career in politics? If the answer is yes, well done and buckle up, it’s not an easy road.
Before you become a politician you must be elected to office and to be elected you need to run a pretty solid campaign operation. So where do we start?
Are you ready to run for office?
What made you ascertain that now is the right time to throw your hat in the ring?
Are you financially able?
Have you considered the impact on your personal life?
Can you take time off work to campaign?
Do you know what office you want to run in?
How long is the term if elected?
Have you considered the campaign team you can put together?
Again, can you afford it?
Are you willing to knock on a lot of doors?
Are you a confident public speaker?
Have you done your research into what your community need from a representative?
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.
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.
Buying a domain name can be done in 5 mins, it’s the creative work which could cost you time. If time is against you (we know it is), I would prepare a decent skeleton of a website and you can come back and add to it as the days go by. My main tip for a quick website set up is having your social media profiles connected and a widget to accept donations.
Remember have a place you can direct your voters where they can learn more about you.
Due to social media and the overall power of the internet, I would like to take the focus off traditional. It’s important to have materials to hand to people, don’t get me wrong but due to the amount of time we all spend on our phones, a link is simply as useful as a political brochure.
If you are dead set on printing campaign leaflets, again make sure your message will resonate and that your images are high quality. Just because you are in a hurry doesn’t mean quality should suffer.
Section 4: Manifesto
I have faith in people and because of that, I believe that people don’t run for office on a whim. To run as a candidate you need to have a deep connection and understanding of what your electorate want. This is of course what your manifesto will address. So, simply put, you cannot draw up a political manifesto in 20 hours, you can, however, put in place the tools that will allow you to be able to draw one up.
It is amazing that so few politicians do ‘broad spectrum’ surveys of voters regularly. In other words, speak to people outside their supporter base, speak to opponents and those on the fence. Bernie Sanders lobbied at the grassroots level from the beginning of his Primary campaign and, in the process, seemed to be able to gauge the temperature of the people far better than some of his rivals. His campaign messaging spoke to the disaffected middle of America as well as the Democratic base showing that grassroots surveying yields the rich data needed for a successful campaign. Many scoffed at him for being seen to be too involved at a low level but when he took a surprise victory in the New Hampshire Primary we realized that ground-game surveys work.
So why doesn’t every aspiring politician try and understand their voters the same, put in the work to create a solid manifesto? You use political technology to do many types of surveys, but how about starting smaller and simply draw up a 5 question survey asking your electorate what thier concerns are? You'll have manifesto drawn up in no time.
Section 5: Campaign Strategy
When we work with campaigns, the vision of the candidate is what matters. This is where a campaign begins and ends. Having a vision is fundamentally what your election run is all about. Vision can be implemented in many ways, from your talking points when out on a canvass, to who you have on your team, and even, to what your social media strategy is.
It's gonna be tough, exhausting and fun. Jot down how you want your plan to look or check out our rollout video here.
If you want all of the above collated into one unified system, sign up to use political software like Ecanvasser. There is much to be said for an efficient political tool that will help you earn votes easier.
Politicians often succumb to stress from losing track of one, or more aspects of their campaign - by joining the revolution and enjoying the process of campaigning, we can guarantee you extra votes. Plus, you can't put a price on the ability to be able to see what's working and what's not before it's too late.
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