Political Campaign Manager: 6 Traits to Look for, Before You Hire
Political Campaign Manager Hiring? Look for Traits First
Whether you're running for city council or congress, hiring a skilled political campaign manager is an essential part of your electoral success. From brainstorming campaign strategies and managing budgets to prepping a candidate for public appearances, the political campaign manager is the backbone of every campaign.
To save yourself from unnecessary stress down the line, it's crucial that you hire a capable manager to run your campaign. We want to help you with your search. Below is a list of the six most important characteristics to look for in a political campaign manager:
1. Organized - Campaign managers have a difficult job because they have to oversee the day-to-day operations of a campaign while also keeping the long-term strategic goals in mind. Managers have to oversee the work of both internal and external aspects of the campaign. They oversee everything from managing the door-to-door volunteers to approving the creative for digital ads and direct mail pieces. A good political campaign manager should also be creating reports on the campaign’s progress, which requires the ability to obtain, manage, and analyze data. With all of these moving parts, it is essential for a campaign manager to be organized.
2. Interpersonal - Campaign managers not only manage the candidate they work for, but often deal with reporters on their behalf and talk to potential voters. A political campaign manager must be able to manage relationships between the candidate and the press, donors, and the general public. The campaign manager is also the head of a team of staffers on the campaign, and the ability to manage and collaborate with them cannot be overlooked. Whether your campaign manager is making fundraising calls, talking to the press, giving a pep talk to the rest of the team, or even managing up to you (the candidate), a good campaign manager must be able to communicate and collaborate well with everyone in order to run a successful campaign.
3. A leader - As I mentioned above, the campaign manager is not only responsible for managing the candidate, but also all of the staffers and volunteers involved in the campaign. With so many moving pieces involved in a campaign, finding a level-headed political campaign manager that can keep the rest of the team in check on the road and motivated after long hours is an absolute necessity. Due to all of the things a campaign manager is responsible for, a good one must be able to delegate and trust their team, avoid the urge to micromanage, and lead with poise.
4. Strategic - “Playing chess not checkers” is a common phrase used when it comes to strategy, and it can be directly applied to campaigning. A political campaign manager must be open to change as the campaign progresses. He/she is expected to adapt to polling results, media coverage and respond to other candidates in order to remain well-positioned for election day. In a competitive race, playing it safe can oftentimes be a lethal mistake. Making tough decisions and accepting trade-offs is a major part of the political campaign manager’s job, so the ability to take calculated risks when appropriate is an important quality for an effective campaign manager.
5. Gritty - If you’re running for office for the first time, it can be difficult to find an experienced campaign manager who has worked on numerous successful campaigns. In fact, if you’re running a campaign on a tight budget, you might have to hire someone who has little to no experience. One quality your campaign manager should possess is grit: the ability to show strength and resolve even in tough situations. There will be ups and downs in any campaign (e.g. bad candidate PR, a negative digital ad), so being able to handle the job during tough times and work through adversity is something that cannot be overlooked when searching for a political campaign manager.
6. Trustworthy - Your campaign manager plays the most important role in driving the success of your campaign. The campaign manager is your right-hand throughout the campaign, so hiring someone you can trust to successfully run your campaign will increase the likelihood that you will win. And when you, as a candidate inevitably face pushback, pressure or doubt on the campaign trail, you have a person that you can turn to for advice. In addition, candidates also shouldn’t have to worry about the financial aspect of the campaign, so having a manager who can be fully trusted to deal with the money side of things is a tremendous help. Running for office imposes enough stress as it is, so having a partner by your side who can allow you to focus on the important, long-term goals of the campaign is a key to victory.
Whether you're a candidate yourself, an aspiring campaign manager, or simply just curious, this list should help you understand the key roles every campaign manager will have and the traits needed to fulfill those responsibilities. For more general advice on campaigning check out one of out blogs on the topic here!