Before You Play Politics...
Just last month, the 2016 major election season came to a close, which means the conclusion of many political campaigns. Between advertising, public relations, political communication, etc., running a political campaign is no easy task. You need to be sure of what you’re getting into. They take an enormous amount of time and energy. So, be ready to devote yourself full-time to running a campaign because it is just that—a full-time job.
Our advice as advertisers and marketers…before you make that commitment, understand these eight important aspects of playing politics.
Get It Together
We cannot stress enough the importance of being organized before and during a political campaign. Things happen quickly and at the last minute, leaving little time for hunting down information or anything else you might need. Get a good team together with people you can trust.
Being organized also means setting achievable deadlines to make sure your campaign stays on track and you’re working towards a victory. Those due dates for paperwork are crucial and can sneak up on you if you’re not planning every step carefully. Throughout the entire campaign, you must also consistently work on building your support pool. Without deadlines, it is easy to fall behind, creating harder work in the future.
Politics can be gritty, unpleasant and fraught with emotional deadfalls. Staying objective and not letting bias influence your campaign strategies and decisions is a key component. Make sure the decisions you make are motivated by information not opinion. It’s easy to blur the line between the two.
Political topics can also be highly-controversial so it’s important your team knows they can speak openly and honestly without fear of reproach (so long as they do so respectfully and professionally, of course). Fact is fact no matter how little you want to hear it. Surrounding yourself with a team of timid, yes men doesn’t help your campaign. In fact, it is likely to hurt it.
Crunch Those Numbers
As we have all seen from the recent presidential election, politics is all about crunching the numbers. At the end of the day, one candidate ends up with more votes than the other, and he or she wins. How many Democrats? How many Republicans? What is our win number? This information lets you know how to setup your campaign strategy—who to reach, how to reach them and when.
Say Hello to the Cyberage
Crunching these numbers means doing research, but it also means getting the right technology to source that information. Depending on your political party, there is a variety of specialized software that aids in running a political campaign. This tech can be very useful not only for finding those numbers but for carrying out campaign strategies and tactics (i.e. knocking doors, direct mail, email, etc).
First, keep track of every cent you spend on your campaign and make sure no wires are crossed when it comes to financial matters (that’s a given). However, you also should make sure you are spending smart dollars. It can be tempting to just throw money at television advertising because it has the potential to reach a large number of people. Advertising is great, but depending on your campaign, it may not actually be cost-effective. Your money could be spent better somewhere else. There is a big difference between getting eyeballs and getting votes, and the strategies for each can be very different.
Know Your Assets
You probably think this means how many signs you have or how many radio spots you have running, but we’re actually talking about your team (volunteers, employees, etc.). Strategists and campaign managers are very important, but so are all the volunteers that offer to work on your campaign—for free or for pay. Campaigning is a huge job, even at the local level. You need people making phone calls, knocking doors and talking you up. They are the support system that enables you to campaign. Your campaign is dependent on them. Make sure they feel their value and your appreciation.
Show Up and Meet People
Make appearances, attend events…Show up in places where it matters. Not only does it give you exposure to potential voters but it offers them a chance to see you—the person—not you—the politician. You also never know who you may meet that can help your campaign, which brings us to our next point…
Meeting the public is just as important as meeting influential political and social leaders in the areas you’re campaigning. These relationships can lead to endorsements and resources that can be useful to your campaign. More often than not…okay…always, politics is about who you know. Master the art of negotiation and brokering a deal. These skills are crucial.
Yes, we know. You hear it all the time, but that’s because it is important (as this election has shown us). Social media gives you a way to interact a bit more directly with voters (the ones who support you and the ones who don’t). It is also a cost-efficient way to get your message across to a large audience. Make sure to work hard to build your following because the more people who follow you, the more people who hear your message.
Still interested in joining the ranks of America’s civil servants?...Great! Get ready to work and bonne chance!