Successful political campaigns start with a big announcement. Of course, there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes before a candidate can publicly declare a candidacy. In this article, we will go through the steps and strategies in announcing your political campaign.
A successful campaign launch requires planning and a strong foundation. Here are tips for putting together a plan to announce your candidacy.
A checklist for announcing your political campaign:
- Have your campaign plan in place
- Make sure your brand is developed
- Develop your positions on the issues
- Choose a date to make your announcement
- Prepare your press kit
- Inform your supporters
- Hold the event!
- Make your announcement online
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Have your campaign plan in place
Before you announce your political campaign, you should already have a plan for how you will run your campaign. You will also want a fundraising and spending budget in place for reaching your voter goal.
You campaign team should already be assembled. That will include your Campaign Manager, Treasurer, Volunteer Coordinator, Scheduler, Telephone Supervisor, Social Media Coordinator and Press Secretary. If you are running a local campaign, you may not have all these positions filled yet.
Make sure your brand is developed
The design aspect of your campaign should be set. Branding is a powerful promotional tool that allows a candidate to extend your reach and build trust. A strong brand needs compelling visuals and accurate information and promotion. While your design elements may be the first things voters see, your overall brand should be communicated throughout all aspects of your political marketing and advertising.
Your visual political brand includes:
- Campaign color scheme and fonts
- Political logo design
- Initial candidate photography
Your print or web design should be consistent with the look of your brand. You should build a campaign website and have it in place. It should be made live a few days before you make your announcement.
Develop your positions on the issues
Once you begin your campaign for office, you will be expected to adopt positions on various local issues. You can’t run a campaign while you are still figuring out where you stand on things. This applies whether you are running for school board, city council, mayor, state representative or US Congress.
- What are your positions the major issues?
- What is the most important issue for the candidate?
- Do you know and can compare your opponent’s position on each issue?
- Your messaging and talking points should be in order.
Perhaps most importantly, you should be ready to answer the question, ‘Why are you running for office?‘
Don’t announce without your campaign website in place! Get a professional-looking website created up in days, not weeks.
Choose a date to make your announcement
You will want to choose the right date and time to announce your candidacy. You will want to do it:
- During the week, but not on a Friday.
- On a date that does not clash with a holiday or other major event.
- 10:00 to 11:00AM tends to be the best time to get media coverage for press conferences.
- At a time when you can get the most attendees to your press event.
Where and how will you announce your candidacy?
Try to select a location that holds some meaning for your campaign. The place may be related to your district or to a particular issue. Optics are important. The event will be filmed and photographed, so it should be a place that stands out.
Contact your local media and call a press conference. You want to get as much coverage to your event as possible. Give the outlets enough time to schedule a reporter. Around this time, you may also want to write an op-ed announcing why you’re running.
Prepare an informational press kit
Political press kits are helpful in that basic campaign and candidate information is easily accessible for journalists and interested parties. While you can have this in physical form, a press kit today is much more likely to be digital. It can be added to your campaign website for easy access.
Political press kit items:
- A cover letter describing the candidate and campaign.
- A candidate biography that includes your background, experience, etc.
- Press releases, including one about your entry into the race.
- Digital copies of your campaign logo, brochures, palm cards, flyers, etc.
- Photographs of the candidate and campaign. Offer several versions for download. Low-res files can be used for web. Print requires higher resolution versions.
- Related newspaper or other media excerpts. Rather than reprinting the material outright, you could create a document or PDF file with links.
- A Question and Answer sheet covering the major issues and your campaign platform.
Reach out to your local newspapers and media companies and let them know where they can access your press kit.
Inform your supporters
When you make you public announcement, you will want to let your close supporters, your local party and major local organizations of your announcement. Invite them to attend the event. Even if they are unable to attend, just letting them know ahead of time will make them feel more involved. This can help turn potential supporters into real ones.
Hold the event!
This is the day! Now is the time you can finally let the world know that you are running for office. You will want to have your stump speech well practiced and ready to deliver. The goal of the event is to create excitement and enthusiasm about your campaign. If you have any major announcements, such as a big endorsement from an organization or prominent politician, be prepared to let everyone know.
There may be media crews present to photograph and video the event. You should still have your own photographer and someone to video the event. That way, you have your own library of media to use for print and online use.
Even if no one from the press shows up, you should still carry on. You can provide a press release and a photo to the media later, along with access to your online media kit.
Make your announcement online
Make sure your website is ready to launch. If you are using social media, have your header graphics and colors set so everything matches your campaign’s overall look and feel.
Tech tip: Make your website live early so the search engines have time to index your pages. It’s a good idea to install Google Analytics ahead of time so your site is indexed faster. Some people may look you up online when they hear of your campaign announcement. You will want your site to be easily found in the search results.
- Check your website grammar and spelling.
- Make sure your website is working properly. Test your volunteer form, contact, and email signup forms.
- Make sure your online donation system is in place and ready to accept contributions from various channels.
- Have your texting and SMS system ready.
- Have your online advertising ready to go.
When everything is ready, post your campaign announcement letter to your Facebook, Twitter and your other social media accounts. Post before, during and after the event. Do a Facebook Live stream during the event. Release a campaign video to your YouTube channel. Start your online advertising, if you are doing so at this time.
Use your campaign launch event as an opportunity to seek help. You need to grow your volunteer base and get more donations to take your candidacy to the next level. This applies if you are running for local, state or federal office.
Once you have launched your political campaign, you will start to get a lot more attention. You will need to be in the public eye more than even. For example, if a local newspaper or radio station wants to interview you, make yourself available. If a group or organization wants to meet with you or have you speak to their membership, don’t turn them down.
Good planning and execution will ensure sure that your entry into politics is off to a strong start. Best of luck!
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