Friday, January 16, 2015

The Campaign Consultant deconstructed

What is a campaign consultant? Is it the person who will hand you a brilliant strategy to win your race? Is it someone who pulls amazing slogans out the air or who creates stunning TV ads that you look as though you walk on water?

Or is it the person who guides you through grueling debates that allow you to excoriate your opponent and come off like a charming, friendly, tough but compassionate political whiz?

Your consultant is a little bit of all of these, but more than anything else, she is an interpreter.

She helps interpret your values, goals and message for the voters to understand. She helps you express yourself to the average person on the street so that you, not the consultant, are perceived as someone the voters trust with the business of government.

You may be the most capable person in the world, up to speed on all the issues, with great progressive values, and ideas for helping the common person. But if you cannot get those ideas out to the voters, you  don't stand a chance of ever getting in to the position of putting your ideas into action.

Why? Because you need to get your ideas across to the voters. Most will not attend debates, even if you are a skilled orator. They will not learn of your policies, unless your opponent is telling them about you in less than flattering terms with the help of his own consultant.You need to make sure the voters see and understand your lessage.

And for that you need a consultant, to help you on the unfamiliar back roads of your campaign, finding your way and communicating with those you meet. You need to translate your ideas into visual aids that will inform the voter, mail, doorhangers, TV ads, as well as make sure they understand the importance of you, and not the other guy, being on the school board, on the city council or in the State Assembly, whatever office it is you are running for.

So think of your consultant as your interpreter and your tour guide. Conducting a campaign is like a trip to a foreign land, one where you don't know the language but need desperately to communicate with the locals. Choose wisely when picking someone to help guide you on the way and provide the tools to allow you to engage in valuable two-way conversations with the people you meet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Start Early; Ask Often

If you're planning a run in 2015, now is the time to start your campaign. How do you start? First, of course you decide what office you are running for. Do your homework. Who else might be running? Will it be an open seat? What issues might be coming up?

Start attending meetings of the body you want to join, if you are not already doing so. Who on this body are you aligned with? Who might represent another viewpoint? Who are the allies of each group?
Look up the campaign financial filings to see how much it costs to run for this office. See who has donated to various candidates in the past. These are people you might to ask for contriubtions.

Now is the time to start putting together your campaign team. Make sure you talk to your family. Are they going to be solidly behind you? Think about the time away from them on the campaign trail and while serving in office.  will they actively help you? make phone calls, walk precincts when the time is ripe?

Start asking your family, your friends and associates, your work colleagues, your old college classmates, to support your campaign. Ask them to pledge, if not donate outright now. (When you start taking donations, know the rules in your district; are there contribution limits? Are you allowed to actually raise money before you file?) You will need a bank account dedicated to the campaign and a good treasurer, even for a small race; someone familiar with campaign deadlines and regulations.

Once you start getting pledges of support and money, you are on the way. Remember what they say "Early money is like yeast; it makes the bread rise." You are the bread. Your supporters are your yeast. Once they have donated, they will do so again. They will bring others along. The campaign will start to grow and snowball and you will look like a winner.
So start now, lay a good foundation and you will be in shape come Election Day.