How do you manage a political campaign? That’s the question every marketer asks when entering the ever-changing world of politics. No wonder – it’s a tough nut to crack.
You have to be in control of every part of the plan to make it work. Moreover, you must be constantly prepared for any eventuality at any time. It may seem challenging to design an effective political campaign, but it’s not impossible.
Do you want to know the secret? Here’s how.
What is a political campaign?
A political campaign involves a number of planned activities designed to increase a politician’s profile, reputation, and ultimately, their chances of winning an election.
Political campaigns always have a specific objective and are usually conducted within a particular time frame. However, depending on the main objectives (and the party’s goals), the activities may differ, and not every political campaign is conducted in the same way.
What are the skills a campaign manager needs in politics?
A campaign manager needs to be creative and have a flair for organizing events (debates, conferences, etc.) as well as the professionalism and organization skills to ensure the political campaign is executed successfully.
Furthermore, they must work under time pressure and have excellent communication skills both verbally, and in writing. A great campaign manager in politics needs to stay on task and ensure all activities are prioritized effectively.
Different roles on political campaigns
So far, we’ve stressed the importance of the manager’s work, but political campaigns are massive logistical operations requiring a large staff and a highly organized hierarchy. A manager is “only” the person who oversees this entire group of specialists.
It’s not just one person who makes a political campaign successful – it’s the work of a whole team. Who are they?
Most often, a political campaign team consists of:
- Political consultants: They are experts in particular areas of planning and running campaigns, who serve as advisors. They are hired in situations where existing staff lack sufficient expertise or time.
- A general advisor: Assists with significant issues and events. Occasionally, they oversee marketing and advertising.
- A fundraising consultant: Someone with experience in introducing candidates to potential donors, hosting events, and arranging fundraising campaigns.
- A communication director: Manages outreach and media relationships on behalf of the campaign.
- A finance director: Responsible for developing and executing a campaign’s expenses plan; collaborates with campaign managers to define goals and make strategic and tactical adjustments.
- Speechwriter: Writes speeches for candidates, as well as potentially for campaign representatives.
Each political campaign is aimed at a different goal, which is why different roles are essential in each campaign. For example, some teams also have social media managers, whilst others additionally hire field directors.
Success in a political campaign doesn’t come from a single recipe, but some possible suggestions and strategies can help.
How to manage a political campaign: Do’s and Don’ts
✅ Establish the goals
Whenever you are conducting a political campaign, all of the most important objectives and goals of the campaign should be established before you begin taking any major steps.
Having concrete campaign goals will help you plan better and create a clearer message for the electors. No matter what the main goal is; whether you want to engage a wider audience, increase the number of voters, or establish a relationship with the public, you should set out goals, plans, and boundaries right from the start.
Make sure that all members of the team know the goal and where the entire campaign is headed. It helps to keep everyone on the same track and oriented in the same direction.
✅ Know the electors
Understanding the target audience is the next step that brings you closer to your campaign goal. You have to know to whom you are directing your messages and all campaign activities. If you want to impact the target audience and encourage them to take appropriate actions, deeper market research is inevitable.
To run a successful political campaign, you have to find answers to two questions:
- Without whom can we not succeed?
- What do these people need to support us?
Generally, there are two types of target audiences in politics:
Die-hard supporters, who are almost guaranteed to vote for your client, and swing voters, who are more moderate and can be swayed either way (their votes are often decisive).
Still, this breakdown doesn’t provide enough specificity. So, you have to look closer to find out who will support the candidate enough and positively impact the expected results. Then, as you identify them clearly, you can develop the best methods to communicate with them and secure their support.
✅ Keep track of progress
Since politics is unpredictable, staying informed is even more important to be aware of any sudden changes. Tracking progress is critical to any campaign, as it provides a way to evaluate what is and isn’t working.
Progress tracking is something related directly to setting goals. If the political campaign isn’t clear about what it’s aiming for, it may be difficult or even impossible to evaluate the outcome (and that’s why establishing SMART goals is so relevant).
The process of gathering and analyzing data manually is challenging and time-consuming. A monitoring tool is a simpler way to examine political campaign performance.
For example, Mediatoolkit can notify you as soon as somebody mentions the keyword you set (in this case, your client’s name or the party). Based on AI, it automatically detects the sentiment of all mentions and gathers real-time data. What’s more, in a matter of minutes, you have access to complete reports.
With all data readily available, it is no longer necessary to wonder how the campaign is doing.
✅ Use technology
In talking about the modern strategies that allow political campaigns to be more successful, a few other things should be covered. Technology now plays an increasingly important role in many people’s lives, so politicians must adapt their activities to these changes.
They must be aware of the power of technology, and most notably social media. To attract mainly young voters, politicians must be present online. A large percentage of social media users read their news on Twitter (59%) or Facebook (54%), so candidates must take advantage of these channels.
The campaign that wants to win should also have a smooth working website and high-quality fundraising platform to make donating as easy as possible so that potential donors can access it via desktop or mobile. Direct Mail has become an effective political marketing strategy over the years. Data enrichment services help political campaigns reach the right people through direct mail campaigns. In addition, an enticing mail campaign improves candidate name recognition and can help with fundraising efforts. Additionally, if there is little name recognition for your candidate, you can consider various viral marketing strategies to increase their visibility.
To sum up: in the modern world, technology-driven and visual aspects may be an important factor in the success of political campaigns.
✅ Create a campaign calendar
With no schedule, there is no political strategy. Calendars help you stay on top of everything at a glance, so you always know what’s going on. Consequently, you can also identify areas where a different idea would work better, and find spots where changes need to be made.
If you do not have a clearly defined plan of action, you’re making your job unnecessarily harder. Take advantage of the campaign calendar to stay focused on the goal and keep the team motivated.
⛔️ Don’t neglect fundraising
There are many mistakes that can be made during political campaigns. One of them is that sometimes campaign managers don’t put enough weight on fundraising. A political campaign doesn’t succeed without money, whether it’s for a local election or a national one.
Therefore, starting early and firmly is critical if you hope to raise enough money to pay all campaign’s expenses. Keep in mind that raising money for a political campaign is difficult and takes a lot of time and effort.
⛔️ Don’t let miscommunications happen
When you manage a political campaign properly, information needs to flow seamlessly between all departments and staff. Communication is critical here; data needs to be effectively communicated, ensuring that every aspect of the campaign functions without any divides.
Put a lot of emphasis on teamwork and streamline the process of exchanging information. There is no such thing as trivial information, since something that could be of no importance to one, just might be crucial to another.
⛔️ Don’t underestimate the opponents
You should never underestimate other candidates. You should keep a close eye on their moves to react quickly, even if they are not a threat to the campaign directly. Throughout history, we have observed many surprising results – so it’s key to remain humble.
You should never feel comfortable and confident with predictions because they may cause you to stop being attentive. Always look for ways to improve political campaign performance. Running a last-minute marketing strategy could be the help your candidate needs to win the election.
⛔️ Don’t forget about a clear budget
Too many campaigns have failed because decision-makers spent far too much money on the wrong areas. Budgeting should be an integral part of the campaign process. Here’s where the finance department plays a key role – this department’s key focus is keeping expenses low as possible.
You must create a budget before you start your campaign and do your best to stick to it throughout. You may need to adjust it slightly as the campaign progresses but never go too far from the original budgetary goals.
…and the winner is…
Nine steps don’t make you president. Unfortunately, these tips may grow your political campaign, but they do not 100% guarantee success.
Every political campaign is different, and you have to approach it individually. It requires a comprehensive approach – there is no room for guesswork or “checking” how things will go.
How do you manage a political campaign? We hope you’re more confident of this answer and these nine steps will bring you closer to success.