Thursday, April 26, 2007

Seven tips for a winning political campaign in Chapel Hill/Orange County

Ruby Sinreich over at Orange Politics blogs about a workshop we are participating in this weekend for potential candidates in local elections. Sponsored by the Community Action Network, it's worth coming out for on Saturday from 10-Noon at Chapel Hill Town Hall.

In advance of the event I put together a list of seven tips for winning a local election:

-Be organized. Have specific people overseeing specific parts of your campaign, and know well in advance what you're going to do and when you're going to do it. Planning ahead will help keep everyone's sanity intact and ensure that you don't make any critical mistakes, especially by forgetting to do something until after it's too late.

-Get a good group of volunteers and show your appreciation for them. There's no way to run a campaign by yourself. You need folks to put up signs, work at the polls, write letters to the editor, and do lots of other stuff. These people could be spending time with their families, going to the movies, or doing about a million other things but they're taking time out because they care about you and what your election would do for the community. Make sure to let them know how much you appreciate it as often as you can. It will make for a happier and more productive campaign team.

-Utilize your friends. Before you pay a graphic designer to make your brochure or give someone a bunch of money to do your website, think about who you know that might be able to do it well for free. Odds are they'll be more attentive to you than someone who's more worried about getting a pay check anyway.

-Get your fundraising done early. The last two months before the election you will have so many forums to go to and questionnaires to fill out that time will be precious. Getting your money taken care of before the stretch run is a big help.

-Maintain your perspective. If someone writes something unpleasant about you on a blog or you don't get an endorsement you had hoped to receive, don't let it get you away from your campaign plan. One thing itself will almost never break a campaign, but letting it distract you from everything else you need to be doing could.

-Make sure your campaign is focused on the right audience(s). If you're running for Town Council, going to University Mall and handing out flyers to folks who may not even live in town is not a good use of time. Getting a list of people in your neighborhood who regularly vote in municipal elections and going door to door to their houses is.

-Utilize all the communications outlets you have available to you. Think the newspaper oversimplified your ideas about something? Expand your thoughts on a blog. Think there's a neighborhood your message isn't getting across in? Send them a targeted mailing. Want to get students involved? Go to them where they are. Every individual voter uses a different process and body of information to decide who to support in an election. You should do your best to get your message across through a variety of mediums so that you can reach as many people as possible.


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