Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Building a Solid Campaign Team

If you're preparing to run for local office in the next election cycle, your planning should begin early. Much preparation goes into a winning campaign and the most important step is to form a solid team.

Your campaign is only as good as the people you have running it. You could be the best candidate in the field, but if your campaign team isn't up to the job you'll likely lose.

It is NEVER to early to begin planning this step of your campaign. Larger campaigns require larger teams, but even the smallest campaign should fill the following roles:

Priority one is to find a competent Campaign Manager. It doesn't matter if you're running for President of the United States or your local Dog Catcher, always have a campaign manager. You may be tempted in a small local race to go it alone and be your own campaign manager. DON'T!! You need someone who can be above the fray, watching the big picture. You need someone who can be objective and ask you the tough questions you can't ask yourself. Running your own campaign is one of the worst mistakes you can make as a candidate. Resist the temptation and find someone who understands the way an election should be run and has a grasp of the issues facing your campaign. Above all this must be a person you can trust and who trusts you.

The next spot to fill is your Field Director / Volunteer Coordinator. This person should be responsible for creating and managing lists of targeted voters and volunteers. It is this information, and how it's managed that can win or lose your election. Once you have these lists, use them! It's not enough to just have a good database, it must be worked into your overall plan.

Last but certainly not least, your Treasurer. This is a unique position because it requires a certain level of knowledge concerning your states campaign finance rules. This person must be able to dedicate time to you and your campaign at moments notice. Deadlines approach quickly, and if you're running a successful fundraising effort this person should be very busy! If possible, it is good to make a strategic choice when filling this position. Remember that in most states the name of your treasurer is required to be listed on all campaign material. From billboards to flyers and even TV ads, this person's name is visually linked to your campaign. Choosing a week respected, recognizable person lends instant credibility to you and your candidacy. Remember though, this person must first of all be qualified to do the job. Don't just pick a popular figure for the sake of using their name. They must be functional in their role.

This is a basic framework for a team that every campaign should use and implement. Larger campaigns will require more complex team structures, but this is a start for any size campaign.

Don't let much time pass in the early stages of your preparation before filling these positions. To win, you'll need all the help you can get, and the people in these roles will make all the difference.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Early Fundraising

It's been said that in a political campaign, early money is like yeast...it helps raise the dough! You can't raise money if you don't have it.

So what is a simple strategy for raising money in the very early stages of your campaign?

Look to family, friends, colleagues and others who you're close to. These people will normally contribute to your campaign simply because they know you personally and believe in you. This is a great place to begin, and you'll often be surprised by how much you can raise by starting here.

Set a goal for each person in your mind, or on paper, for how much you think they could contribute. Then make the call and ASK THEM! Don't talk your way around the request, just make the ask and then wait for a response.

Raising money early in your campaign is also a strategic move! It shows potential donors, the media, and other candidates that you're serious. This will attract the attention of other contributors in no time. So you see the meaning of the phrase? Simply put, early money attracts more money (raises the dough).

Every campaign, regardless of size or office, requires money to send it's message to the voters. Fundraise early, and often!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Micro-Target with Twitter

Twitter is an excellent micro-targeting tool if you know how to use it!

By searching local trend on the Twitter desktop site you can see what the trending conversation is in your area. In addition, you can also search tweets in a local geographical area.

Why does this matter?

It matters a great deal! You can easily see what is going on in your area, or any area you choose to view. It also allows you to see who the twitter "influencers" are in your area. Finding them and connecting with them is a great first start to building a solid twitter base for your campaign or business.

Another nice thing about these tools is that they allow you to view the conversation about YOU! Not always does a Tweep use you or your company's @username. You could be missing valuable feedback and comments about. Your product / campaign and not even know it. You can also catch this by doing a simple search for your candidates name or business name. Often times you'll get back results you have never seen before because that @username wasn't included in the tweet.

Later Tweeps!

Social Media in Disaster Relief

I’ve been amazed at the way in which social media has played a significant role in the dissemination of information during, and in the wake of the recent tornado outbreak in the south.

Here in East Tennessee, what was a fairly non-cohesive Twitter community, has turned into a thriving and successful disaster relief effort. By simply using the hashtag #CLEhelp or #CHAhelp (for the Cleveland and Chattanooga Tennessee area) Twitter has been responsible for seeing countless relief needs met. Everything from replacement chainsaw blades, batteries, food, volunteers and gas cards have shown up at a moments notice because of simple tweet request.

In the days following these deadly storms new twitter accounts and Facebook pages popped up all over the social media sphere. Many have made all the difference for grassroots volunteer groups struggling to do the work of cleanup and support. Even regional and national relief organizations have taken notice, and jumped into these ongoing conversations.

During the storms, local news and weather reports were shared instantly via social media. In most cases where power was lost, cell phone coverage was still available and mobile versions of sites, as well as text messages and tweets were still able to be received. Lives were no doubt saved by this fact.

Social Media’s role during these storms and the response to them are just another example of the power social media continues to gain in our society.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Ten Worst Mistakes of Losing Candidates

With thanks and credit to Morton C. Blackwell

Some candidates lose because they can’t raise enough money, no matter how hard or skillfully they try. Others lose because their election districts are demographically wrong, because the trend is against their party or because their views are not close enough to those of the voters.

But many losing candidates could have won, if they had avoided making one or more of the following common mistakes:

  1. Failure to develop in advance a comprehensive campaign plan, including a timetable and a realistic budget. In politics you can start late, but you can’t start too early. Losing campaigns almost always misorder priorities, putting too much effort on things which can have little effect on the election outcome.
  2. Managing their own campaigns.
  3. Spending too much time at headquarters rather than going out personally to solicit votes or raise money.
  4. Hiring consultants who personally absorb too much of their campaign budgets.
  5. Spending too much of the campaign funds on paid media and polling and not enough on building an organization of large numbers of people in campaign activities.
  6. Adopting (and sometimes changing) positions on issues because of pressure from major contributors or the results of public opinion polls. Polls can be useful to determine which of their personal positions on issues should be stressed in their campaigns.
  7. Misreading public opinion polls, which usually measure preference but seldom measure intensity. Intensity, not preference, motivates people to act in politics.
  8. Failure to stress properly the issues which motivate the core elements of their supporters.
  9. Responding to every minor criticism rather than focussing on the carefully considered issue thrust of their own campaigns. Campaigns lose when too much on the defensive.
  10. Failure to respond properly to continuing negative information, whether from an opponent, the news media or both. Ignoring a continuing negative issue won’t make it go away.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Social Media and Your Business

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube…the BIG THREE in my opinion.

Your small (or large) business can more easily engage the masses than you think, and it all starts by staking your claim in the Social Media world!

Gone are the days of the website mentions on TV commercials and billboards. More and more, companies are choosing to connect and communicate via social media. instead of the company website, you see “www.facebook.com/companyname” and the like. Large companies have begun to play the game, and all businesses should. Not sure you can compete with the big boys on the SM battlefield? Think again! One of the great things about marketing your businesses using SM is that the playing field is level. All that matters is what you put into it, and at the moment that involved ZERO financial investment. With just the investment of your time, you can reap generous rewards in the way of sales, referrals, and new business.

The world of marketing has changed! No longer is it a dog eat dog world, it has become who has the cutest puppy. How many followers do you have on Twitter? How many people like your business or non-profit page on Facebook? How many views do your YouTube videos have? These are what matter most in the Marketing World now.

It doesn’t matter what the answer to those questions above is for your situation. You may be sitting there, having never begun. There is no time like the present! Whenever you engage in SM Marketing, it’s important to remember what makes SM work! It’s SOCIAL stupid! Engage, interact, provide value. Don’t become noise on your SM accounts. People learn to tune noise out! For many of us, we have our own personal accounts, and had them long before we had a business account. Stop and remember why you started to engage in the first place. If you do, and if you invest your time wisely in SM, there is no doubt you’ll see results.

If it helps, just remember YOU-TWIT-FACE. No, not calling names….just an easy reminder of the big three your business should be utilizing to boost brand recognition.

Now go be social…

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Ten Worst Mistakes of Winning Candidates

With thanks and credit to Morton C. Blackwell

Some candidates win but disappoint their supporters and even themselves. They achieve little or nothing of what they hoped to do. Here are incumbents’ worst mistakes:

1 -Hiring staff who don’t personally share their policy agendas. Personnel is policy. Staff who lack enthusiasm for their bosses’ priorities prevent elected officials from doing what they intended to do in office.

2 -Not keeping campaign promises. These days voters have little tolerance for incumbents who break their word.

3 -Not paying attention to the interests of the coalition which elected them. Incumbents lose their allies when they don’t vote right, sponsor key legislation or sign allies’ fundraising letters and aren’t there when their friends need them.

4 -Seeking approval of their enemies, particularly their media enemies. Many incumbents start craving to have everyone love them and no one hate them. But trying to make friends of their enemies makes enemies of their friends.

5 -Failure to handle constituent relations effectively. All politics is personal. Service can be as important to voters as policy. They appreciate prompt, personal service when they contact those elected to serve them.

6 -Succumbing to temptations newly present when one achieves some power. Election to office tests anyone’s strength of character, family ties and personal morality.

7 – Getting greedy for money or higher office.

8 – Becoming arrogant. Many people, constituents who request help and especially the officials’ staff, treat incumbents with deference bordering on obsequiousness. A consequent loss of humility can destroy a politician’s base.

9 – Accommodating opposition incumbents who now are “distinguished colleagues.” Excessive collegiality is a trap for incumbents who really want to accomplish things.

10 – Not helping to nominate and elect allies in their home states and elsewhere. A well-run team takes care of its own. Serious politicians work hard to elect others who share their public policy principles.