The SCN Encourager – Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 5 Campaign Tips Bootcamp Graduation

Are you happy now that Campaign Tips Bootcamp is about over? Me too. Watch for your diploma and per diem participation stipend check in the mail. I got a great rate from the postal service for a Saturday delivery sometime in September. Let’s just hope I filled out the right forms …

Thanks for plugging along all week. I hope you caught on from the very beginning that I believe your campaign is your campaign. You know your community better than I do. That is why my first suggestion was for you to find ways to expand your contacts and connections long before an official campaign announcement of any kind is made.

Once a campaign is announced, it increases suspicion and cynicism in many voters. (Like whenever I invite my wife to go with me to see something at Best Buy – she shifts into “suspicious” mode quickly and hides the checkbook.) You’ve got it. Time is a wonderful resource.

From now on, consider that you only have two times of year: “campaign time” and “all of the other time.” Of course, your school year calendar overlaps both, but the trick is to take full advantage of “all of the other time” in a way that creates some value for you later. For example, by helping out in the concession stand during a game or going to a poorly attended, low profile school club meeting on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll pick up some extra helping hands at campaign time, guaranteed.

All of the campaign tips offered the last four days, also fall under the banner that everything is relational. I didn’t cover this because every school leader and communicator I know understands this probably better than I do; that nearly every endeavor that ever achieved success was supported by a number of meaningful relationships.

Whatever type of campaign plan you eventually chart out (if you do) – with some of my tips in mind or not – you’ll do so in the context of your own district, with all of the characters and egos involved, your district’s past election history, your team’s unique strengths, your organizational culture, and the resources you have available. The good use of time can assist you with all of these.

You’re already leading and managing “relationships”– students, parents, staff, and community-wide. This is the right focus. People are your primary asset and total attention must be given to quality teaching, learning, and safe schools. I realize that school elections are a big bother. But campaign tips from a crazy guy like me really aren’t much good if relationships inside the organization are strained. If you’re consistently strategizing ways to team build and strengthen relationships, you’re setting the stage for a great campaign plan should you ever need one.

Do relationships really matter during an election campaign? Try to get your hands on Time Magazine’s 2012 Year in Review edition. It featured two pages on how the Obama and Romney teams used social media in their respective campaigns.

Remember that five years ago, Obama’s team totally skunked John McCain’s campaign in the social media domain. The well-funded Romney campaign in 2012 was not going to make the same mistake. It would enter the social media battlefield matching the Obama campaign effort: dollar for dollar, tool for tool.

And Romney’s campaign proved to be light years ahead of the meager GOP effort in 2008.

However, as Time Magazine reported, Romney’s team used social media to send general campaign messages to targeted GOP and independent voters while Obama’s team used social media to send out targeted, individualized interest messages to DEM and independent voter lists. Whoa! What a difference.

Independent voters active in social media received messages from both camps. Obama’s team sent messages to individuals about the issues they (the individuals) personally cared most about. Romney’s team sent more generalized messages. Both campaigns spent the same, but only one campaign took relationship building to the next level, tagging and categorizing about 8,000 different individual issues and then responding to voters based on their personal interest areas.

So, here’s the “quick guide” wrap-up and one final tip:

#1)  You know your community best.

#2)  You’ll keep building relationships, as always, and maybe even better.

#3)  You might use a tip or two from this Campaign Bootcamp to better construct or evaluate a
future campaign plan.

And, here’s the final tip – don’t forget your “Get Out the Vote” plan. (that is, the “Get Out YOUR Voter” plan)

Yes, you can incorporate your “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) component into your big and broad campaign plan, but if you anticipate a tough election from the beginning, you’ll want to know you’ve got two campaign teams pounding away for you. One is good. Two is better.

Yes, to get a parallel “Get Out the Vote” plan rolling, you’ll have to set aside leaders, volunteers, and resources who are not doing much work on the general campaign plan. They’ll need to be dedicated to a effectively carrying out a connected, yet separate GOTV plan.

Yes, you’ll have to trust that both campaign teams (your general campaign team and your smaller GOTV group) are doing what they need to do. But oversight and good plans with benchmarks can help you do this, along with food and fun. There are coordination and communication details to work out between the two teams, of course, but the goal is to try and minimize volunteer burnout – where folks on your general campaign team tire out and can’t wait ’til the whole election gig is over!

A great campaign plan essentially requires double vision; two eyes on the general plan and two eyes on the GOTV plan. I know this seems like I’m suggesting you get out there and find someone with four eyes to lead your campaign. I’m not. I’m just a bad writer. You actually need someone who can be in two places at the same time! (just kidding…well, sort of…)

In short, your general campaign team is responsible for identifying, informing, listening to, and reaching voters while your GOTV team is responsible for making sure (near the very end) that all of the voters you need to win actually make it to the polls on election day. Pull this all together and the odds are on your side in pulling off a big win.

Thanks again for attending Campaign Tips Bootcamp.

It’ll be “Encourager Lite” next week. Hope you’re ready for some magic!

Tom Page, SCN managing editor



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