Putting together an effective campaign team is crucial for any political candidate. It doesn’t matter if you are running for local city council or US Congress; no candidate can do it alone.
A solid campaign team allows for a division of labor and the delegation of important tasks. This enables the candidate to focus on their message and connect with voters, while the others handle the day-to-day tasks and operations of the overall campaign.
Put together key political staff positions
Recruiting key staff members is important when running for office. Each member should be selected by their skills, experience, and ability to perform under pressure. So, who should these people be? Below is a list of the people you’ll want to bring on board:
Campaign manager – very important
The role of the campaign manager is critical to success, as they take charge of all campaign-related activities. They also act as the main point of contact between the candidate, staff, and any external support. In smaller campaigns, they may be the only paid staff member. Finding the right person is essential for staffing the role of campaign manager.
Note: Candidates should NOT act as their own campaign manager. We’ve seen it happen too often when a candidate takes on too many roles and becomes overwhelmed. In the end, they are not left with enough time to do the activities that a candidate should perform, such as voter outreach, personal contact with donors, etc.
This is the person in charge of the campaign’s financial and accounting operations. The job involves approving expenditures, creating and maintaining a budget, tracking contributions, and making sure that the campaign operates within the bounds of election laws and regulations. The ideal candidate should have a background in accounting or finance.
A field director is responsible for overseeing and managing the direct voter outreach. This includes organizing door-to-door canvassing, managing phone banks, and coordinating voter registration drives. They also play a crucial role in the final Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operations, making sure that voters are motivated to head to the polls on election day. A field director should have experience organizing and managing volunteer teams, as well as a deep understanding of the political landscape and voting demographics.
A communications director handles the campaign’s communications efforts. This includes media relations, messaging, and online presence. Strong writing and public speaking skills are important for your those who handle your campaign’s PR and media outreach. Experience in developing and executing a comprehensive communication strategy is also important.
A fundraising director is responsible for overseeing fundraising efforts. This includes identifying and soliciting donors and managing the campaign’s budget. This person plays a crucial role in raising donations. They should have strong networking skills and organizational skills, as well as an understanding of the political landscape. They must also be familiar with, and be able to comply with state and federal fundraising rules and regulations.
A political director oversees the campaign’s political operations, including building relationships with key stakeholders, and developing and executing a political strategy. Your political director should have a deep understanding of the political landscape and experience building and maintaining various relationships. They must also keep on top of identifying key trends and issues, and to help develop effective tactics for the candidate to deal with them.
A digital director’s role is involved with the campaign’s online operations. This may include website development, social media strategy, and online advertising. They oversee (or even write) posts on Facebook and Twitter. The idea person should have digital marketing experience and an understanding of current online trends and technologies. Even small campaigns should have someone help with social media and website updates.
Note: Make sure that more than one person is able to maintain your digital presence. We’ve seen candidates lose their social media expert in the middle of the campaign and be unable to access Facebook or Twitter accounts.
These people manage volunteers and ensures their activities run smoothly. They often work under and answer to the field director. Volunteer coordinators should be able to work well with others and keep individuals and groups well organized. Volunteers perform all sorts of tasks. They include neighborhood canvassing, operating phone banks, putting up signs and posters, working at events and more.
Additionally, you may want to hire one or more Political Consultants. However, paid consultants are typically used in larger campaigns for specific tasks. These include political strategy, advertising efforts, managing field operations, and more.
A campaign team is only as good as the people who staff it.
Where to find your team members
One of the first questions that a candidate asks when starting a political campaign is, “Where can I get help?” Actually, there are plenty of ways to find new team members:
- Personal Network: Campaign team members can often be found among the people you know. This includes friends, family, acquaintances, and former colleagues.
- Professional Organizations: Professional organizations such as the American Association of Political Consultants are great places to search.
- Online Job Boards: Online job boards such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and even Monster can be great resources for finding qualified staff.
- Political Parties: Political parties are often a great source of campaign staff. Reach out to your local political party and see if they have any recommendations or connections.
- Campaign Training Programs: Campaign training programs, such as the Campaign School at Yale University and Dare to Run, can be great places to find experienced campaign staff.
Your Volunteer Pool: Starting with volunteers can be a great way to find dedicated and passionate campaign staff. Many successful team members begin as volunteers and work their way up to become key staff members.
Recruiting volunteers for your campaign
Recruiting volunteers is a critical aspect of any political campaign. A dedicated group of volunteers can help you spread your message, reach voters, and perform all sorts of necessary tasks.
There are a variety of methods for drawing new volunteers to your campaign. As mentioned above, friends, family members, and colleagues are often willing to help.
But if you want existing supporters to help your campaign, then ask them. Use your email and social media channels to ask others to pitch in and help. Those that reach out to help should be quickly contacted by your volunteer coordinator and put to work.
Establish a volunteer management structure
As the campaign recruits volunteers, it is important to establish a management structure. This involves developing clear processes and procedures for organizing individuals and groups. Volunteers must also be provided with the resources and support they need to be effective.
For a volunteer management structure, the campaign should:
- Assign a volunteer coordinator: This role should be one of the first team members you recruit.
- Provide training and resources: The campaign should provide the training and resources that volunteers need, such as information on canvassing techniques, voter outreach strategies, and more.
- Set clear expectations: The campaign should set clear expectations for volunteers, including the tasks and responsibilities they will be expected to perform and how they will be evaluated and recognized for their contributions.
- Create a communication plan: The campaign should create a communication plan that outlines how volunteers will be kept informed about the campaign’s progress and events, as well as how volunteers can communicate with the campaign staff.
Finally, make sure to provide your campaign volunteers with regular “insider” updates and let them know how they are making a difference in the election.
Create an effective onboarding process
An effective onboarding process is a key factor in having a well-managed team. This process should include introducing new team members to each other. It should provide an overview of the campaign platform and behavior expectations. And when they start, everyone should have the resources they need to do their jobs.
Onboarding should also be tailored to the individual’s specific needs. For example, a new field organizer may require more extensive training on voter outreach and mobilization. A new data analyst may need in-depth training on the campaign’s data analysis tools.
By taking the time to properly train and onboard your volunteers, it will help ensure that everyone is properly prepared for their roles.
Develop a clear division of responsibilities
To develop a clear division of responsibilities, the campaign manager or team leader should take the following steps:
- Assess strengths and weaknesses: Assess the skills and experience of each team member and determine what tasks and responsibilities would be a good fit for each person.
- Create a task list: A comprehensive list of tasks and responsibilities should be created for each position.
- Assign tasks and responsibilities: Each member should be assigned specific tasks and responsibilities based on their strengths and experience.
- Communicate the division of responsibilities: Each team member should know what is expected of them and of others, so there is no confusion in their role or position.
We’ve worked in campaigns where a team manager did not communicate effectively with the candidate and volunteers. This led to misunderstandings that caused volunteers to quit. Once this happened just before a yard sign delivery run, and it delayed putting out signage by several days.
When everyone knows what they are to do, they can focus on their specified tasks. This can help prevent burnout and ensure that everyone stays on track with their short- and long-term goals.
Finding the right people for your political campaign team is essential for success. You’ll need individuals who have the skills, experience, and commitment. Your team members should all be able to work together towards a common goal.
Recruiting talent for your political campaign can be a daunting task, but it is necessary. Remember, runs a successful political campaign alone. It requires a team effort!
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What is the most important aspect of building a political campaign team?
The most important aspect of building a political campaign team is finding the right people. Your main team should have the skills and experience you need to reach the goals and objectives of your campaign. Enthusiasm is great, but it’s skill that will get the job done.
How important is it to have a diverse political campaign team?
Having a diverse political campaign team is important for several reasons. A diverse team provides a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and ideas. This can help the campaign better understand constituent needs and reach a wider range of voters.
What role does technology play in building campaign teams?
Technology plays a crucial role in building a political campaign team. Software and apps allow for efficient volunteer tracking, donation and expense reporting, ongoing voter communication, and get-out-the-vote efforts. Communication software allows for easier communication between members.
How do I ensure my staff is working effectively?
To ensure your campaign staff members are working effectively, it’s important to establish clear lines of communication, establish a clear division of responsibilities, and provide regular feedback. Your groups should be open to new ideas and create an environment where people can work well together.
Are campaign team members paid?
Some campaign team members are paid, while others may volunteer their services. Paid team members can be a significant expense, especially for larger campaigns. You’ll need a budget in place to ensure that you can pay for staff salaries, office space, and marketing expenses. Make sure you are able to cover the salaries of your paid staff, as they play a crucial role in the success of your campaign.
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