The Campaign Staff
Running a campaign is much like running a corporation. The President is the Candidate, the Chief Operating Officer is the Campaign Manager and the Chief Financial Officer is the Finance Chairperson. Other key officers can include: Treasurer, Volunteer Coordinator, Scheduler, Telephone Supervisor and Press Secretary.
TIP: Don’t run your own campaign. Even if you are running for a very local office, find someone else to run the campaign. You, as candidate, should be out “on the street”, on the phone, attending coffees, meeting the press, getting voters to know who you are and what you stand for. As some point in the campaign, you should be given a schedule and told where to go, how long to stay, who to meet and greet and what to say.
It is the job of the CAMPAIGN MANAGER to pull the campaign together and hold it together. An effective Campaign Manager communicates with everyone, making sure the staff knows what to do, that the candidate is “on track,” and that the outside world has a positive view of the campaign. There should be regular staff meetings, reviewing the Campaign Plan, making alternations and discussing potential problems.
The Campaign Manager should be the first person the candidate hires, long before he/she has announced for public office. Whether it is paid person or a friend, it should be someone with whom the candidate can confide in and, at the same time, has the confidence of the staff. The Campaign Manager is involved with the development of the campaign plan and ultimately has the responsibility of coordinating and executing the Campaign Plan. As the Chief Operating Officer, he/she has to steer the campaign in the right direction and resolve disputes along the way. He should be a good listener, know how to analyze situations and make quick, reasoned decisions. The Campaign Manager should be good representative for the candidate.
The FINANCE CHAIRPERSON should also be on board before the Candidate announces publicly. Raising money is critical to the success of any campaign. The Finance Chair should help put together a Finance Plan detailing how the funds are to be raised. He/she should help raise the money and find others to join the Finance Committee. It is always helpful for the Finance Chair to be financially secure, with financial connections in the community. It is also helpful if he or she is well regarded within the community. However, the Finance Chair has to be someone with more than “just the name.” Find someone who also has the time to devote to the campaign. The fundraising component of a campaign cannot be underestimated.
A CAMPAIGN TREASURER should have the responsibility of collecting and recording campaign donations and expenditures. He or she should open the bank account and immediately check with the Board of Elections for recording deadlines. He or she should be in charge of writing checks for the campaign. However, 2 signatures on a check might be a good idea. The Campaign Treasurer should have basic accounting skills. Campaign opponents will check the Campaign Filing Statements. Avoiding simple accounting errors avoids unnecessary problems for the Candidate.
The VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR can play a pivotal role in a campaign. He or she will try to involve others in the campaign. If he is cheerful, brings a friendly atmosphere to the office and provides interesting chores, the campaign will exude those same qualities. People will want to participate. Volunteers are giving of their time and effort without pay. And, while there is a dedicated core of friends, party activists and issue-oriented supporters, most volunteers join a campaign because it is “social” and it is “fun”. A Volunteer Coordinator always has something for the volunteer to do. You never want to hear a Volunteer Coordinator say, “there is nothing to do.”
A SCHEDULER keeps the campaign “ticking.” A scheduler should be an organized person who is good at follow-up. He or she receives and answers candidate invitations, sets the coffees, fundraising and other campaign activities on the calendar. He or she should have a good sense of the district to be able to schedule door knocking and a reception in the same neighborhood. He or she should have a sense of how long it takes to get from one place to the next. The Candidate who has good driving instructions, knows who to contact at an event and arrives punctually, starts out “miles” ahead.
The TELEPHONE SUPERVISOR is in charge of a key voter contact component. If phone calls are being made by volunteers, it is important that the Telephone Supervisor have some experience in telemarketing. Developing the proper script, training people to make the calls and finding sufficient people to “man” the phones, requires expertise. Phone calls are made to ID voters, to follow-up on party invitations and finally for the Get Out The Vote Effort. If the campaign is using professional phoners or automatic dialing systems, it is still important to have one person on the campaign who is the liaison to the telemarketing operation. It is critical to know the number of calls being made and the success rate to be able to evaluate the progress of the campaign.
A PRESS Secretary coordinates all activities with the Press. These activities could include: writing press releases, monitoring the newspapers, radio and TV campaign coverage, holding press conferences, and arranging for the Candidate to meet individual journalists. A positive relationship with the press can be critical to the success of a campaign.
A campaign staff is a team effort. If the campaign works well together, it can have a major impact on the outcome of the election. You can check out the Political Resources Directory of Products & Services (http://PoliticalResources.com ) for some vendor suggestions for telemarketing, fundraising, campaign management and other crucial campaign elements. Good luck with the campaign.
Carol Hess is President of Political Resources, Inc. She was a Campaign Manager and Political Consultant in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.