(Thinking about running for office? RightVoter presents “Campaign Boot Camp,” a series of essential “how to run for office” rules for your campaign. For the full series, click here.)
Okay, now we’re getting into the hard work of the campaign. So far we’ve had a lot of, “Do this, don’t do that.” Now it’s time to get to work. We’ve gone over why you need a campaign plan. Now it’s time to actually start writing one. Unless you hire us, we can’t do it for you, so here are some guidelines and suggestions.
What does a campaign plan actually look like? These are some of the basic components (for a fairly robust campaign):
- The Candidate
- The District
- The Campaign
- Strategy and Messaging
- Political Plan
- Communications Plan
- Paid Media Plan
- Finance Plan
- Campaign Timeline
- Campaign Budget
We’re not going be able to get this done in a single post, but let’s get started with the campaign setup sections.
Who are you? What’s your background? What in your background makes you qualified? Why are you running? What unique insight do you bring to this race? Write it out. It will become your full, long-form bio. Once you’ve written your full bio, you’re going to need a condensed version (250 words) that can be included in campaign literature. You will also need a 50-100 word version that can be used as an introduction. Have it ready (in the campaign plan) so you don’t have some intern trying to re-write it for each event.
Write an in-depth description of the district. It may be tedious, but it’s important. You may be able to do it off of the top of your head. Great. If not, it may require some research. Even better. You need to know this stuff anyway. “The 1st Congressional District of New Hampshire consists of Manchester and some of its suburbs, high-turnout southern tier towns, the Seacoast region, and the Lakes Region.” (That’s a first sentence, not a full description of the district. What are the largest communities? How do the regions differ from each other?)
Then get even more in depth. Add voting/turnout history from past elections. Break down the data town-by-town (or precinct-by-precinct). Where do the votes come from? Where will your votes come from?
What are the most important local issues in the district? Did a factory close down recently? Is there a land use dispute? A local tax issue? How did that play in the press?
Who are the most important individuals and organizations in your district? Is there someone you need to have on your team? What are the major coalitions? Major employers? Churches? Business organizations?
Go through the past races and look at the messages previous candidates ran on. What issues did they focus on? How did they do? Is there polling data that you can scrounge up?
Who’s in charge? What’s the chain of command? You need a staff flow chart that explains very clearly who answers to whom. You need to know who will be included on decision-making phone calls and who can authorize expenditures. Who can talk to the media? Who talks to the candidate on a regular basis? Who can update the Facebook page? Who can Tweet? (Please be careful with that last one.)
What time does the office open? Where will your office be located? When are the staff meetings? Who attends? Where’s the best place to get lunch? Do we have a menu from them? Where’s the menu kept? Is it taped to the wall? In a specific drawer or filing cabinet? Is their pizza any good?
Who are your vendors? Who’s your printer? Who’s designing your direct mail? You need to get all of this down in one place. Create a directory of everyone involved in the campaign: the inner circle, the staff, the vendors, everyone.
What happens when someone says, “I want a yard sign.” Who follows up? Who gets them a yard sign? How is that recorded in your database. (Who’s allowed to access the database? What database system are you using?) Who checks the mail? Who logs contributions? Who makes sure the thank you notes are sent?
Who’s who. Flow chart. Chain of command. Directory. Rules and regulations. Policies and procedures.
Write it all down. You’ll be glad you did. Trust me.
NEXT UP: Strategy and Messaging