The key to victory: Dogs

By Joe Curran  www.filpac.com

Think we're kidding?

A couple of years ago we decided to predict the election results by surveying the dogs that we noticed sniffing under the tables at our customers' campaign headquarters.  (Well, OK. We soon discovered the dogs couldn't answer the "push" questions.  So actually it became more of a count than a survey.)

(Well, really it was more of an observation than a count.  But we think it's valid nonetheless.)

Here's what happened: where we noticed dogs, there was an election-night celebration.  Where there were no dogs, there were no wins.

Neither.

Anyone who's visited a campaign headquarters knows it can become quite a mess, particularly when things get busy. Usually someone takes a few minutes each day to at least get rid of the leftover food. But when things get really busy, the food just sits there.

Pizza crust. Oreos. Half-empty plastic cups of formerly-carbonated beverages. Dried-out chip dip. Those animal crackers you buy in mini-barrels at Costco. Spilled two-liters. That gravelly spot on the carpet where someone dropped a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

Where there are lots of people coming in and out of the headquarters, the law of averages says that sooner or later someone will survey the scene and say, "Wow!  The dogs would love this!" So she'll run home, open the tailgate for the elated dogs (who seem to sense something big is at hand) and grab an indolent teenager or two, whose reluctance to get into the car is mitigated by the promise of food.

The formula is simple:

Dogs = big mess = lots of food = more people = excitement

Which is precisely what an underdog challenger needs to win.

Failing to grasp the magnitude of the task at hand is, in our experience, the primary reason why candidates lose. It means they're unprepared to recruit the brigade of volunteers and donors necessary to execute a winning campaign plan in every precinct of a vast district. Campaigning is not a go-it-alone endeavor. It requires people. It requires excitement.

Excitement is the magnet that attracts others. Where there's excitement, people feel they're part of something great.  Which means they'll want to involve their best friends. Canine or not.

Where there's excitement, there's energy and enthusiasm.  The campaign surges into the final weeks with everyone charged by the notion that, yes, we can win! So they'll walk an extra precinct, find more helpers, raise a few extra dollars or make another hundred calls. 

Excitement breeds results.  When you're on the side that senses victory, you're hoping for 25 people at your phone bank, and 30 wander in. Because they want to be there. If your side has it's back against the wall, depression sets in.  Instead of 25 you get 19, who show up because they have to. Instead of 200 reporting for election-day work, you get 150. That creates a performance gap which is reflected in turnout.   Which is what swings the close elections.

The candidate's job, therefore, is to create a recruitment culture that welcomes participation and is organized to leverage the unique talents of every person. And every dog.  Who, after a raucous victory celebration, will be happy to clean up. Tails a waggin'.

5 Mistakes People Make When Deciding to Run for Office

5 Mistakes People Make When Deciding to Run for Office,
And How to Avoid Them

By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

1. Organizing a “committee” to run your campaign.

A “campaign by committee” is often a loser.  (GASP!)  This mistake usually occurs when well-intentioned people decide a candidate needs help or when a candidate thinks their race is too small to pay for any assistance, or doesn’t want to hire a professional campaign advisor or manager.  It also occurs when stake-holders want to ensure their candidate wins.  Campaign committees spend hours and hours in meetings.  Everyone has an opinion; everyone wants to be heard.  Unfortunately, if the committee members were good enough to run campaigns, they’d probably be in demand, professionally. 

Instead, create a “kitchen cabinet” which helps recruit and organize volunteers, help create positive chatter, help with door-to-door canvassing and assists with small fundraising tasks.  While a kitchen cabinet can be a huge help, they shouldn’t make important strategic and issue decisions for your campaign.  If you are sitting in a campaign meeting talking about what colors your sign should be – you’ve already made this mistake.

 

2. Asking the wrong people for opinions.

 

People start asking opinions when they are thinking about running for office.  And of course, everyone has an opinion.  Most often, people will give their honest opinion, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct. 

Certainly family members need to be consulted.  After all, they’ll be directly affected by your decision to run.  However, asking arm-chair pundits or Monday morning quarterbacks their assessment could plant very inaccurate misconceptions about a certain race or set of issues.

Instead, before you start “asking around,” talk to a qualified political consultant – even if you do not intend to hire one (but be upfront with them).  Good political advisors will meet with any serious candidate and be happy to give you more information than you could ever find by “asking around.”

 

3. Choosing to run for the wrong office.

 

With dozens of seats open each election cycle, there are always people who decide to run for the wrong office.  In their mind, they may be best suited for the office they choose, but that may not be the case.  Other times, people choose to run for an office because they think it comes with power and prestige.  Running for a political office will be one of the hardest endeavors you’ll ever undertake.  The money you’ll earn (if any) will be very little.  You’ll have to attend more meetings than you can imagine, and you’ll have to meet and listen to a lot of people’s opinions.

Instead, think through your skill sets and what office best suits your talents.  It’s important to run for the right office for the right reasons.

4.Assuming buckets of money will appear on your doorstep, droves of volunteers will show up to help and everyone who “owes you one” will come through.

The idea some benevolent donor, a busload of experienced and dedicated volunteers and all your friends (with whom you’ve created a large favor bank) will rally around you and make sure you’re elected is just plain wrong.  Running for office is a tough and lonely task.  You’ll have to make lots of calls asking for money, knock on hundreds of doors, learn dozens of issues and a host of other things you’d never imagine.  Unfortunately, there’s less money and fewer volunteers than ever.  Assuming help and money will just show up is a setup for failure.

Instead, understand early on that you’re in this nearly alone.  You’ll have to work hard for every campaign dollar and every volunteer hour.  Support must be built one voter at a time.  Money must be raised one ask at a time.

 

5. Not Creating a Budget

 

Creating a campaign budget is a simple thing to do, which means it’s also a simple thing not to do.  Without a campaign budget, your campaign cannot be organized.   And, organization is the key to winning.  Unfortunately, most candidates massively underestimate what it takes to get elected.  With no written budget, a campaign

Instead, create a plan for how you’ll win your race.  Decide what activities you’ll do in your campaign, then figure out what money it will take to fund those activities.  Make sure it’s written out so you can refer to it throughout the campaign.  You can certainly make changes to the plan as your campaign progresses, but having your budget on paper will help you keep on track.

Don’t underestimate the amount of time, money and energy it will take to run your campaign.  Winning a political office is hard; that’s why it’s called a race.  So when you decide to run for office, run hard and run to win.  Be in top mental shape and in good physical condition.  There’s no reason to run and lose, so that extra effort – every day of your race – can be the difference between winning and losing.

About

Matthew Samp is the Senior Campaign Consultant at CandidateSigns.com, where he helps candidate get elected.  He's a 20-year veteran of the political and direct response marketing industries and is a nationally recognized leader in political, art and legal marketing.

Become a Great Speaker

Become a Great Speaker
Overcome your Fears and Become a Great Speaker

by Randall P. Whatley, Cypress Media Group, Inc.

"All the great speakers were bad speakers at first." Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1860

You are already a great speaker. You give great presentations every day.

Think about how often you successfully communicate your ideas to loved ones, co-workers, or acquaintances. You make a simple point. You choose language that they understand and to which they can relate. You answer their objections satisfactorily. You close with them agreeing to do something you want them to do. You just employed the great elements of a successful speech.

Then you are asked to speak to 15 people about a subject you know something about. (Why else would you be asked to speak?) You become scared to death. You have a totally different mindset about "public speaking" than you do about "daily conversations." Why? You’re scared because you think you don’t know how to communicate. You think you have nothing important to say. You think you don’t know the correct way to phrase your thoughts. You think the audience will disagree with you. You think the audience will dislike both your ideas and you personally. You don’t think you can persuade them.

You plod on, prepare your speech, rise to deliver it and all of a sudden, you experience one or more of the following "stage fright" symptoms.

Rapid heart beat: Your heart is beating so fast and loud that you’re sure everyone in the room hears your heart pounding. Relax. Only you can hear your heartbeat. It’s beating faster than usual because adrenaline and other chemicals are increasing your heart rate. Breathe slowly and deeply. Concentrate on your speech. Focus on someone in the audience you are comfortable with for a few moments. You heart rate will slow once you become immersed in your presentation.

Trembling legs or hands: You’re embarrassed because one of your legs or hands is trembling. Everyone who sees it knows how scared you are. You feel like such a coward. Relax. Take several, slow, deep breaths. Contract and then relax the shaking muscle. Again, adrenaline and other chemicals have supplied more energy that your body needs, and irregular breathing has disrupted your blood circulation.

Shift your weight on your feet to stop your leg from shaking. Use large hand gestures that move your hands and arms. Connect and press together your index finger and thumb on the trembling hand while relaxing your other fingers. Hold the connected finger together for ten seconds and them relax your hand. Repeat this if necessary. Your breathing and tension/relaxation exercises will stop the trembling.

Shaking or cracking voice: You begin speaking and your voice shakes or cracks. Your voice sounds so weak and you’re embarrassed. How can you continue? What should you do? This problem is simply caused by irregular breathing. You can easily eliminate a shaking or cracking voice by slowing your speaking rate and gaining control of your breathing rate. Focus on someone comforting in the audience. Intentionally slow your speech, inhale, and lower the pitch of your voice as you continue.

Dry mouth: Your mouth feels like it’s full of cotton. Your lips stick together and slur your speech. You’re afraid that the audience won’t understand you because of the slurring. It’s the old adrenaline problem again! The adrenaline is pulling moisture from your mouth. If you can take a drink of water, stop and do so. Hold it in your mouth for a few seconds before swallowing. Pause for a few seconds and relax. Breathe to relax. If you cannot take a drink, pause or stop to collect saliva in your mouth and hold it there for a few moments before swallowing. To diminish the chance of this happening, chew gum or use a mint before speaking.

Perspiration: Your forehead and upper lip feel moist. You’re very self-conscious of this and feel growing embarrassment. Your perspiration is probably caused by your rapid heart rate that raises your body temperature. Then again, maybe it’s just warm in the room. Try to ignore it as much as possible. Wipe your upper lip and forehead briskly with a handkerchief, and then continue your speech.

Flushing: Your face and neck look like you’re coming down with the measles! It’s all red and you know people can see that you’re scared. These red splotches are caused by irregular blood flow to the outer layers of your skin by adrenaline. This mostly happens to women. There’s usually no way to stop it once it starts other than to relax in order to slow the adrenaline rush.

Why don’t these speaking problems occur when you’re talking to loved ones, co-workers, or acquaintances? They don’t usually occur because you’re relaxed when you speak to people with whom you are familiar under comfortable circumstances. More than anything else, relaxation is the key to delivering great presentations to groups. Delivering presentations in conversational tones is one of the easiest ways to force yourself to relax.

You can be a great speaker. You give great presentations every day. Adopt the same mindset when you’re speaking to a group that you have when you’re holding a regular conversation. These simple tips will enable you to be a great public speaker.