For most people, the summer means long, lazy days, fun in the sun and family vacation.
But if you have an election this fall or a primary coming up, now is not the time for relaxing by the pool.
Labor Day is considered the traditional start of the political campaigning season. By then, party primaries have ended, and voters are just starting to pay attention to the upcoming elections.
But if you wait until the end of August to start the groundwork for your offline and online campaign, you’ve waited too long.
Successful candidates plan ahead.
Over the next few months, you’ll need to get your campaign plan together, raise initial funds, and get your campaign staff and volunteers organized.
Here are a few things you’ll want to work on during the dog days of summer…
Get your finances in order
Do you plan on raising and spending money for your election? If so, you’ll want to appoint a campaign treasurer and create a bank checking account. You’ll need one if you plan to take online donations. Start early as it can take time for an online donation service to verify your account and set up donation pages.
If your campaign is large enough, you’ll need to set up a finance team to handle the finances. This team will set up the campaign’s budget, track all expenditures, and ensure that the campaign abides by all relevant laws and regulations. For federal congressional campaigns, this can include registering with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and filing reports and other paperwork.
In many campaigns, the finance team will work closely with a candidate’s fundraising committee to set up a budget. This includes determining how much money they need to raise from donors in order to reach their goals. The finance team also works with a candidate’s communications staff to create an effective advertising strategy for reaching and raising funds from donors.
There are many ways to raise money: from asking friends and family members, to requesting donations online, and even holding fundraisers. During the summer months, many candidates gear up for August primaries. This is a time where donations and fundraising events are crucial. It’s important to keep in mind, as this is also a time when many people take vacations, so it will be difficult to get people engaged in your campaign.
Start preparing your campaign website content
A political campaign website is a critical tool for politicians today. A candidate website can be used to accept contributions, post updates and get people onto your email list. Getting your website content and photographs ready will make things easier when it’s time to register a domain name and build your site. (For assistance, download our Website Content Planner.)
If you have not already started your campaign website, it is important to begin early. You should have a site live by the time you announce your candidacy. The sooner you do, the more time you will have to raise money through the site. It will also provide a place to help organize your campaign events recruit support.
Keep in mind that a website can always start small and grow over time to keep people informed about your progress. You can post updates about the campaign, such as fundraising totals or goal updates. You can also use it to tell your story and share information about you, the cause, and your supporters.
Get your social media accounts established
When was the last time you went through your personal social media profiles? You may be surprised at the amount of information that is incomplete, out-of-date, or just outright embarrassing. Use this time to clean up your old posts and update your profile images to project a professional look.
Many politicians use social media to get their messages out to the public. If you are planning to use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you’ll want to set up your accounts start and posting content will resonate with voters.
Don’t forget to cross-link your social profiles with your campaign website and donation pages. This is important for ranking better in search engines.
Know the law and local rules of political campaigning
Whatever you do, become familiar with your local election laws. For example, there might be dates before which you cannot engage in campaign activities or raise money. Of course, filing deadlines are a must. There may also be advertising restrictions or specific disclaimers required on your print and web material. Laws vary from state to state and may even depend on the elected position you are running for.
Have a fun and productive summer!
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