The Campaign Workshop Feed

Political Data: Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good Lizzie Kendrick Find the Right Mix When Using Political Data for Digital Advertising One of the biggest benefits digital advertising can bring to a campaign is data. Unlike TV and mail, you can hone in on your targets, pay attention to metrics mid-campaign and adjust as necessary, and analyze what worked and what didn’t when the campaign is over. In the past few election cycles, using that political data to micro-target has become increasingly popular. And with good reason. The ability to serve ads to the same list of voters that you are sending mail to, knocking on doors, and calling on the phone is incredibly valuable to your political campaign. You can amplify your message and create continuity between your digital advertising and other communication methods. However, there is a fine line between getting too targeted and casting a wide net. Many campaigns, regardless of size and scope, are hoping to use a very specific list of voters to serve digital ads to. What is important to keep in mind with digital advertising, is that even if you are matching a list to first party data rather than cookies, your match rate will never reach 100%. Often, it will be in the 30-50% range (and that’s a good match). This means that your original list of 100,000 people has now shrunk to 33,000 – 50,000. And that smaller pool of people is not identifiable on the individual level due to privacy laws. An issue you may run into is narrowing your audience too much and missing a large swath of potential targets because they do not necessarily fit within your list of matched online profiles. Outside of first-party political data lists, there is a ton of data that is available for digital advertising. You can create an audience based on consumer history, education level, demographics, household income, location and much more. We have found the most successful campaigns use a mixture of first-party political data and third-party data to reach a wider audience (especially when the target area is small). This mixture of data is integral in a digital strategy so that you aren’t leaving a good portion of your audience on the table. Finding the right balance when it comes to targeting for digital advertising can be tricky, but it’s worth putting in the extra time and thought to make sure your ads are being seen by the right people. Want to learn more? Check out our other blog posts on Digital Advertising here.       Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:57 EDT
7 Questions with Rick Ridder on Campaign Strategy Joe Fuld A Political Pro Talks Campaign Strategy, Per His Latest Book. Rick Ridder chatted with us about campaign strategy and the 22 rules for campaign management outlined in his new book.  Rick is the president and co-founder of RBI Strategies and Research, and the author of Looking for Votes in All the Wrong Places: Tales and Rules from the Campaign Trail. As a former presidential campaign manager and long-time political strategist with experience in American and international elections alike, Ridder has seen it all when it comes to political campaigns and campaign strategy.  1. You have 22 rules for campaign management and campaign strategy. Which one or two are the most important? Probably the rule for candidates that is least followed, but is the most important: "Know Why You are Running." There are scores of candidates from the Mosquito Control Board to the President of the United States who are unable to cogently delineate why they are running for public office. From a management standpoint, this translates to: Know why your candidate is running and be certain it is reflected in the campaign. I've seen campaigns where the management has one idea of what the campaign is all about, while the candidate has a very different idea. 2. Any other campaign strategy rules that didn’t make the cut for the book? There is an implied rule in the book: "Humor is Necessary in a Campaign." Too often, campaigns are run as if the candidate is running for Pope and the only voters are the College of Cardinals. Humor in communications is important. Humor in the campaign office is also important, and please, work for a candidate who can understand and enjoy humor. 3. Did Trump’s win change your perception of some of your rules or change the way you think about campaigns in general? It actually reinforced many of the rules, such as knowing why you are running (Make America Great Again, for example). In the book, I mention the Democrats’ desire (need) to talk tactics such as GOTV capabilities in the last weeks of a campaign. I would now make that into a rule: Never talk tactics. Nobody cares. This only takes you away from focusing on message and strategy. For 18 months, we heard about the Clinton campaign's web operation, field operation, analytics team, research technology, and on and on. Hell, somewhere there must be a story on the required thread count for the sheets in a hotel when Hillary slept there. But there was no message, and the strategy was reflective of the Generals’ strategy in the movie "A Bridge Too Far." 4. Which campaigns that you’ve worked on did you learn the most from? Which losses taught you the most? I have always learned more from European campaigns than from U.S. campaigns.  In Europe, the message has to be more concise because of limited TV, the communications more focused because of the shortened election period, and the definition of the contrasts greater between the candidates/parties because of the multiplicity of parties in a given election. In terms of losses – as a very young staffer for George McGovern, I learned that voters have to want the change you want. So, in a sense I learned the important lesson, "It is not about you. It's about them - the voters." 5. What’s your favorite part about working on campaigns? Least favorite part? My favorite part of working on a campaign is working with many like-minded individuals for an issue/organization/candidate/party in which we all believe in the same cause.  The worst part of campaigns is the ridiculous hours most senior staff think they have to put in and require their subordinates to do the same. The false sub-text is that the longer you work, the greater your capabilities. The result is too many mistakes made by a tired staff. A rule I did not put in the book, but to which I try to adhere with campaign staffs: There are no good ideas after nine at night. 6. Any campaign strategy mistakes that you particularly dwell on? In one of my first years polling, we conducted a survey for a party caucus in a legislative district in Greeley, Colorado. The candidate was a young Hispanic man, and it was conventional wisdom that he did not have a chance in the largely white district against a favorite of the Capitol lobbying crew. Our poll came back with the Hispanic candidate 10 points down (48% to 38%) with six weeks to go. I confirmed conventional wisdom to my client upon reading the initial data. He was taken off a target list. On Election Day, the Hispanic candidate lost the race by 12 votes. At first, I tried to dismiss "our miss" to the margin of error - 1 out of 20 times, you will be outside the margin of error. But when I took a closer look, I found that of the 14% undecided in the race, 90% were Hispanic. Two lessons:  1) Don't be cavalier and let conventional wisdom influence a thorough analysis of the data. 2) Minority respondents often won't tell an interviewer their voting preference. I think about that poll every time we conduct a survey, and wonder whether if the party caucus had put a modicum of resources into the campaign, he would have won. 7. What advice do you have for young people looking to start working on campaigns? I tell them to start out in the field. This surprises many because most young people are attracted to headquarters positions. They want to be a press secretary, the candidate's aide de camp, or a media consultant. But most of the really good operatives start out as field operatives. Why? Because field speaks to voters and listens to their concerns. So when it comes time to communicate, those who have been in the field have a better sense of the real language used to say something and what to say.    Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:00:33 EDT
Grassroots Strategies: Relationships Matter Joe Fuld Grassroots Strategies Work when You Focus on the Relationship There are many grassroots strategies out in the world, but not all of them work.  So when it comes to grassroots, what actually works? The most effective strategies are built around personal relationships with legislators. When organizations build real relationships between their members and elected officials, their engagement lasts longer and their phone calls get returned. Getting a constituent who has a long-standing relationship with a lawmaker to reach out is a great grassroots strategy but not always easy to accomplish. Making it a priority for your members to have relationships with lawmakers should be the long term critical goal, but very few organizations track the activity of their members and even fewer prioritize that activity. For many, the extent of personal connection is a patch through call or lobby day. A more powerful tactic is asking your legislator to meet for a cup of coffee in your district. Within your existing team, you should be tracking how many of your members have reached out personally to your key legislative officials on a month-to-month basis. You can also use list building to find members and voters who care about your issue, then ask the most willing and active to personally contact an elected official. We call this an engagement funnel. By getting the volunteer to take action, it will engage the volunteer and build a better relationship with them for the future. If your volunteer can then build a rapport with an official, you’ll have an awesome go-to person and a great way to communicate directly to legislators. Check out some of our favorite post on grassroots strategies:   Have questions on grassroots strategies? Check out our latest ebooks and blogs, or comment below to reach out to one of The Campaign Workshop's team members.      Mon, 19 Jun 2017 08:00:23 EDT
Advocacy Defined: What is Advocacy and what is not? Joe Fuld How Do You Define Advocacy? As state legislatures across the country end their sessions, it is time to plan for the next session and use your set of advocacy tools. We have worked this year to build a one of a kind advocacy training in Austin, Texas October 23rd & 24th, join us! Check out more information on the Advocacy Training here.  Defining What is Advocacy:  According to Mirriam Webster, advocacy is defined as the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. In the time I have worked in advocacy, the process of supporting causes has changed. From needing lobbyists to meeting with legislators, all the way to how we promote causes, a lot has changed.  These days even the smallest of issues are running multi-year offensive or defensive campaigns.  Even though advocacy tactics have changed with new technology and better targeting, the premise for advocacy remains the same.  No matter what form advocacy; legal advocacy, health advocacy, community advocacy or political advocacy, it is still about supporting an issue or cause and defining your specific goals around that cause.   What is the difference between an advocacy campaign and a political campaign? The difference these days seems less and less clear, but it boils down to express advocacy vs. issue advocacy. Express advocacy means you are asking folks to vote for or against a candidate. Issue advocacy means you are talking about issues.  Why is advocacy so important? Advocacy matters because people are a lot more aware of advocacy issues rather than the back and forth of political campaigns because the issues relate to them more on a personal basis than most political campaigns. Well-thought out advocacy strategies will allow you to expand your member and fundraising base. It will also allow you to tell your story in a way that is less political and more issue-focused.  Have more questions on what is advocacy and how to define it? Drop us a note or come to our training to up your skills.    Thu, 15 Jun 2017 11:00:47 EDT
Campaign slogans: It's Just Emotion That's Winning Me Over! Joe Fuld Use Emotion for a Winning Campaign Slogan To paraphrase the Bee Gees, when it comes to a campaign slogan- emotion wins. An emotional connection is the key to a good slogan. If you take the emotion out, then it will just fall flatter than me singing the Bee Gees at Karaoke night (trust me!). A slogan is not just a series of words; it needs to tap into what people are thinking and feeling about what they want the office to accomplish. Connected to the theme:  A slogan must work with your theme. You can have a great idea for a slogan, but it will only work if it connects to your campaign theme. Slogan strategy: A slogan is strategic. It needs to be inspired and representative of your overall strategy. Hub and spoke: A slogan allows you to attach issues. A good slogan allows you to work on multiple issues and show a connection between those issues and your overarching theme. A campaign slogan makes a contrast: Campaigns are a choice. Whether you have one opponent or five, make sure you make a contrast. Not a word jumble:  Don't take the easy route by listing three incongruous words. My grandma Bettie was so serious about word jumble, she had books of them around her house, just picking a bunch of words and stringing them together is not strategic or emotional. Here are our favorite blog posts on message and slogans. Check them out to build a great theme message and slogan! Campaign Message: Use the Seven C's for Political & Advocacy Wins Campaign Theme vs. Campaign Slogan Using a Tully Message Box for Your Political Campaign   Have questions on how to create a winning campaign slogan or other advocacy or political questions ask us in the comment section below. Be sure to check out our ebooks here too! Mon, 12 Jun 2017 08:00:40 EDT
15 Grassroots Actions to Fight Trump’s Agenda Joe Fuld Top 15 Grassroots Actions to resist in the coming months and years. It's important to be focused on growing grassroots actions for the upcoming years as we move past the first 100 days of a Trump presidency. None of these tips are earth shattering, but good grassroots actions are defined by day in-and-out action that lasts for the long term. 1. Set aside time to talk with your family members and friends who did not vote, or voted the other way. 2. On a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, call, email, Facebook message, and tweet your member of Congress. 3. Call your legislator and ask them to meet you for a cup of coffee. Developing a personal relationship with your legislator is a big part of accountability. 4. Writing old school letters and sending it with a stamp is an underrated thing. Sending an actual letter is surprisingly effective. Add a phone number and ask for a callback. 5. Send your letter to a local newspaper if you are worried that you won't get a response.  Make the letter public and push it out via traditional and social media. 6. Call or email your legislator and get them on the record supporting good legislation on the state and local level. 7. Run for office: we need to take back state legislatures. The only way to do that is to have a good team at every level. 8. Give to organizations that will be affected by the Trump administration. Helping to fund the fight against these executive orders is important to organizations such as ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, local immigration groups, and many more. 9. Buy a newspaper and help make sure good journalism still exists. 10. Read what the opposition is saying in their own words so you can respond. 11.  Join a community group or democratic party group. 12. Volunteer for a nonprofit. 13. Make sure your friends and family are registered to vote. This administration is going to try and purge voter rolls on a state by state basis, so make sure you and your family are registered at the correct address. 14. Get trained to run for office or to be an effective advocacy leader. 15. Don't get discouraged. This is the hard part- we need to stick together and continue fighting for progressive ideals.   Need some more tips? Check out out our 100 best Advocacy and Campaign Tools to find the perfect platform to help your resist grassroots actions!   Thu, 08 Jun 2017 08:00:07 EDT
How to Launch a Kickstarter Nonprofit Campaign Joe Fuld Jumpstart Your Kickstarter Nonprofit Campaign  Ever had a moment when you to launch a Kickstarter nonprofit campaign ( or other online fundraising platform)? Some folks in the nonprofit and advocacy space have been hugely successful with Kickstarter, but it takes a combination of work, timing, and luck.  In our ongoing quest to give starter information to all things advocacy and campaigns, here is a short primer on Kickstarter nonprofit campaigns.  Understand that there is no guarantee for Kickstarter success, but there are steps that can make you more likely to be successful than others.  Start with a Defined a goal:   Research similar campaigns or launches on Kickstarter to determine a price. What you give and what folks get is both a science and an art. Looking at what worked for others is always helpful. Marketing on kick starter for a non-profit is very similar to a for-profit kickstarter campaign ( check out our work for Lucnskins here) but the goal is key.  Ask for specific amount:  Don't be vague and request a specific amount. If you don't ask for a specific amount, folks won't give. Make sure the amount is realistic it is better to ask for less and overshoot your goal then ask for too much and not achieve it.  Define your audience:  Create segmented lists to drive to your nonprofit Kickstarter campaign.  Think segments that drive different messages: gender-based lists, issue lists with a location, professional lists, bloggers, core customers. Whatever segments you think will work, try and test. Create a calendar to plan out your emails as well as your channel strategy. Create engagement plan:  Define how often they receive email/post/outreach.  Have a strong channel strategy / define how many posts on:          - Linked In (#/when)         - Facebook (#/when)         - Instagram (#/when)         - Twitter (#/when)         - Blog Posts  Define the offer:   All donors should get product plus different things for different tiers. Tiers are a great way of capturing folks imagination and testing engagement. Look at past campaigns to see what has worked.  Seed it with investors:  Build a list of supporters who will cover 20% of goal immediately when the kick starter goes live to build momentum. Have others investors waiting to fill in once you achieve an initial goal.  Create a great video: A kickass video is a key to Kickstarter. It does not have to be expensive but is does have to have a compelling story and message. Usually, these videos are long around three minutes, but the key is to front load content. Make sure you have a compelling first 15 seconds that holds on and does not let go to prospects. We have seen videos produced for $2,500 or less. Bottom line the content matters more than production.  Implement well:    There are lots of things to do to build a good Kickstarter campaign. But quality is more important than quantity when it comes to Kickstarter.  We hope this helps! Send us your Kickstarter for nonprofit questions here:  Mon, 05 Jun 2017 08:00:42 EDT
Should I Pay My Campaign Fundraiser On Commission? Joe Fuld Campaign Fundraising and your Campaign Fundraiser Here is a frequently reoccurring campaign fundraising story: A candidate hires a campaign fundraiser. The fundraiser helps organize the candidates call time, and the candidate calls friends and family and in the first month. The candidate raises a lot of money and pays her campaign fundraising consultant $15,000 in commission. The consultant is happy, but the candidate is not. She feels like she could have raised the money without the fundraiser and the relationship is poisoned. The fundraiser tries to get the candidate on track, but the candidate doesn’t work as hard the next month. The consultant and the candidate split.   So should you pay a campaign fundraising commission? No, but likely not for the reason you think. Campaign fundraisers are worth every penny they get paid, but clarity in a business relationship is critical. It is simpler for finance directors and consultants to get a monthly fee. That way what they make is transparent.  There are good fundraising consultants out there who take a percentage because they feel like that is the only way they can get paid, but be careful if you decide that a commission is what you need to pay. Make sure you’re clear on what that percentage is.   So how is a campaign fundraiser getting paid on commission different than when I buy media and get paid on a media commission? Timing and clarity are part of it. Media commissions happen later in a campaign and budgets with their associated commissions are approved ahead of time.  The bottom line is that you need to know what you are paying your campaign fundraising consultant or any political consultant for that matter. If it is unclear, ask and get it in writing. Remember, everything is negotiable including fundraising commissions and media commissions. Want to learn more about building your campaign team?  Check out our ebook on jumpstarting your political campaign.    Thu, 01 Jun 2017 08:00:25 EDT
Social Media Strategy for Legislators Joe Fuld How Should Legislators Work With the Changing World of Social Media Strategy? Last year I spoke to a group of legislators at the Public Leadership Institute. There were a lot of great questions, and the crowd was so much fun that I decided to turn the highlights into this week's post. 1. Have a message: Some have underplayed legislative fundamentals, but to have a good social media presence means you need to have a clear message. 2. Tell a story: Storytelling is a big deal. Whether you are a legislator or a nonprofit, understanding and delivering the emotion of an issue can be the difference between passing and killing a piece of legislation. 3. Have a content calendar: Get the message out and repeat. A content calendar allows you to plan out your content in a clear way.  Remember: time is a constant. You need to look at yourself as a publisher, and you need to think about your overall message. Planning content ahead of time helps you stay in control of the dialogue. 4. Use your content to test messages: Social media can be a great way to test what works and what doesn't.  Use facebook and twitter analytics to see what is working and how you could refine and improve your message. 5. Be proactive and reactive: Have a good mix of planned content and spur of the moment content. Don't just tweet once. Switch the headline and tweet again. 6. Hashtag it: Hashtags make it easy for folks to find content. Research the best hashtags on an issue in your state or create memorable new ones and use them. 7. Be multi-channel:  It is important to create content specific for you channels. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all have different specifications and different ways to optimize content on their platforms.  Creating content for each channel will work better in the long run. 8. Video matters: The world is moved by video, and social media strategy rewards video content. Always make sure the video can be played on mobile devices, and focus on content rather than production value. The video does not have to be highly produced. It needs to have a good message that folks can connect with. 9. Don't ignore email:  Email is tried and true. It is a great way to layer what you are doing on social media to get specific actions taken. 10. Build lists: Taking your email and donor list and adding it to Twitter and Facebook can help with your layered communication. 11. Let folks know who you are: Bombarding folks with a borage of tweets on legislation may not be as effective as mixing in personal content that explains to folks who you are in your everyday life. 12. Create a real relationship: Layer communication across mediums and have a real back and forth with your constituents.  13. "Hug your haters" Jay Baer writes a great book about how ignoring feedback from customers can really hurt a company the same can be said for legislators. Hug your haters! This gives you the highlights but since this was a long session if you have the question about social media strategy for legislators ask them here. Be sure to check out our ebooks and other content here   Mon, 29 May 2017 08:11:33 EDT
5 Best Practices for Placing a Print Ad Elena Veatch Whether you’re a non-profit, an advocacy group, or candidate, placing a print ad buy can be a frustrating process with plenty of hitches along the way. Below are some best practices to make sure your print ad buy goes as smoothly and painlessly as possible. 1. Ask for the right rate Some newspapers charge different rates for political and non-political creative. While you may not want to tell the newspaper exactly what issue your ad will cover (or if you’re a consultant, who the client is that you’re reserving the space for), you will want to make sure you’re getting the rate that applies to your campaign. You don't want any last minute surprises for your budget. 2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions When you’re talking to publications about print ad rates and availability, don’t hold back with your questions. Here are some things you’ll want to know when you’re deciding if a publication is right for your print ad: What’s the circulation of your paper? How often is it published? What is the distribution area? What are some characteristics of your readership? (Age, gender, median income, partisan leanings, etc.) Which day of the week does your paper get the highest readership? (If it’s not a weekly paper)  Once you’ve decided that a publication will help you reach the folks who your print ad message will best resonate with, you should also make sure you get the following details: When do you need creative? Is pre-payment necessary? What are the specs for the ad? Is there a discounted rate if the ad runs more than once? Lots of publications will list this information on their sites, but even if they do, confirm that the details they provide still ring true. Get these answers in writing and keep track of them in a spreadsheet (especially if you’re working with multiple papers). 3. Bigger isn’t always better Most publications will give you the option to place a print ad with or without color and in varying sizes. Don’t get pressured into purchasing the most expensive options—it likely won’t increase the impact of your ad enough to make a meaningful difference. Design an ad that will be just as effective in black and white as it would be in color to cut costs. At the same time, realize that a half-page ad should garner enough visibility to be successful—no need to go for the full-page ad, but avoid the quarter-page option. 4. Confirm, confirm, confirm Double and triple check all rates, dates, and specs with each publication you’re working with to be sure that you don’t run into any unforeseen problems. Get these details in writing if you can, so that the rate you get, is the one you’re charged for initially. Once you’ve placed your buy, be sure to follow up yet again to make sure you’re good to go. 5. Kindness goes a long way Being nice to the folks you’re working with at publications to place your print ad buy will go a long way. For example, when TCW went to place nearly identical print ads with different headlines for the towns they were running in, a good relationship with the ads manager across three papers granted us flexibility with the fees typically charged for running different creative. Have any questions about print ads?  Feel free to comment below or reach out! Thu, 25 May 2017 08:08:33 EDT
Nonprofit Storytelling: Get Your Advocates Talking Sophie Thurber Nonprofit Storytelling Ups the Emotion and Increases Engagement Nonprofit storytelling is a powerful tool, but it takes a significant amount of work and often seems to fall off the radar when push comes to shove. I love issue advocacy, full stop. I relish the opportunity to dig into the ins and outs of policies and programs, Most of my nonprofit clients demonstrate a similar love. Most people, however, do not get their jollies from these sorts of details, and those are the people we need in our corner if we’re going to make real changes. Nonprofit Storytelling is an essential piece of the puzzle because it helps to move all those pesky details out of the realm of the abstract and answers the simple question: “What does this mean for me, for my family, and my community?”  Here are five simple ways to cultivate a nonprofit storytelling library that will do some long-term heavy lifting for your issue advocacy efforts. 1. Mine your events for storytellers Your in-person events are likely to have some of your staunchest supporters in attendance. Take the time to ask them why they’re attending – they may have a compelling story that they’re willing to share with a wider audience. And of course, if they’re open to it, get a photo of them that you can pair with their story (don’t forget to bring photo releases to events!). 2. Stay in touch with your advocates People don’t like to feel like you only come to them when you need something. Make sure your prospective storytellers feel like they’re a part of your efforts, not a tool that you use and discard. 3. Invest in tools that will help you to gather stories There is a whole host of digital tools out there that allow people to easily create video testimonials and other forms of content that are emotionally connective and personal (some of which are featured in our 100 Best Campaign Tools post). 4. Train and support your storytellers Staying on message is an important part of any advocacy effort. Nonprofit storytelling is only as powerful as your storytellers, so make sure they have access to the resources and support they need to help them stay on track and hammer their message home. 5. Emphasize diversity Advocacy efforts are at their strongest when they can count supporters from all walks of life. As you recruit storytellers, put in the work to make sure that you’re listening to and actively engaging with people who have different backgrounds and perspectives. Nonprofit storytelling is a powerful tool, but it’s not a project you’re going to complete overnight. Give yourself the time to do it right, and you won’t be sorry. Want to go beyond nonprofit storytelling and learn more about navigating the world of advocacy for nonprofits? Check out our ebook here Mon, 22 May 2017 08:00:12 EDT
Before You Run for Office, Build Your List Joe Fuld  List Building: Before Running for Office Many candidates think about their campaign for years in advance before they run for office, but some never take advantage of that critical time. As you probably know, you have three core resources in any campaign: people, time and money. List building will help you keep track and use resources for the long and short term. List building is one of the core tactics for success in a campaign. Before you run for office, we suggest every candidate do a personal assessment of their true resources.  A big part of this assessment is building a master list that includes all the people who could help in your campaign. This includes people who could knock on doors, write a check, mobilize others or are just key opinion leaders in the community.  Before you run for office, you need a clear picture of your support.  We like candidates to be able to document a third of their financial support in the form of a list before they run for office.  Some quick list building sources: - Email list  - Facebook  - Twitter  - LinkedIn - Holiday card list - Family lists  - Business  cards  - Clubs  -Business groups - School Alumni - Fantasy football league -Party Leadership-  Local non-profit leaders Be sure to code the origin of the contacts in your list. It will allow you to segment messages to specific subgroups. Disclaimer groups have a different level of privacy and rules when it comes to creating lists- follow those rules.  It is one thing to use your Facebook and email list to define a shared attribute (high school, law school, etc..) it is another to be on a board and copy the membership list.  The earlier you start list building, the better it will be. Put as much info as you have; name, address, email, phone number, are all good, but having personal information such as birthdays can also be helpful. List building before you run for office is just good common sense. With a little focused time, you can build a powerful list that can help you run and win. Have questions about starting a run for office? Call us for a free chat or check out our Ready to Run ebook Thu, 18 May 2017 08:00:00 EDT
100 Campaign and Advocacy Tools: 2017 Joe Fuld The 2017 100 Advocacy & Political Campaign Tools List In political and advocacy campaigns, it is always useful to find good campaign tools. Some are great; some are not.  This year we have updated our campaign tools list and included new and exciting tools that will help you on your next campaign.   So what is new on the Campaign tools list? We added 20 plus excellent new Advocacy and political campaign tools that solve a lot of different problems. From digital organizing to campaigning engagement and calling tools. The new submissions are super cool. Some of our original campaign tools are developing new facets of their platforms. Tools like MentionMap's new bot finder (which we are  super excited about!) Why do we need a list of tools?  With the sheer volume of campaign and advocacy tools, our clients have complained that it is impossible to keep track of them all. So this list helps you get a clear picture of what is out there and what can individually work for you. How do you use the campaign tools list?  So the coolest part about the campaign tools list is the format.  It is searchable and sortable! Sure the PDF is nice looking, but the ability to search by price, type and our top picks, is quick and painless. We understand that this list does not solve the problem of choosing what is the best strategic fit for your organization or campaign, but we hope narrow the choices.  Making time to understand your goals takes thought and strategy and a real understanding of primary and secondary goals.  You can waste a lot of time and money on campaign and advocacy tools that don't help, so don't rush into it. Take some time read the reviews, and drop us a not if you get stuck. One more thing, please use the updated campaign tools list!  We will update this list on a yearly basis. Know of a new campaign tool? Or one we just missed drop us a line! Mon, 15 May 2017 08:00:42 EDT
Grassroots vs. Grasstops Advocacy Joe Fuld       Grassroots Advocacy vs. Grass-Tops Advocacy: Know the Core Components of an Advocacy Campaign.   What is the differences between grassroots advocacy vs. grasstops advocacy?  Political definitions can be confusing. Even folks who have been around for a long time get campaign terms confused. So in our never ending quest to define what we do we have decided to define what Grassroots and Grasstops advocacy are. In addition we also talk about how you can harness grass-tops and grassroots advocacy to run an effective advocacy campaign.    What is grassroots advocacy Grassroots advocacy is when you reach out to constituents in legislative districts or congressional districts and have them connect with their legislator or member of Congress on  an issue they care about. No one is paid for their action, but resources are often spent reaching out to these constituents. What is grass-tops advocacy? Grasstops advocacy is when you focus narrowly on opinion leaders and folks who have connections to elected officials. For example, reaching out to the office-holder’s donors or leaders within their political party. Can you just do grassroots advocacy or only grass-tops? For a long period of time, advocacy was almost exclusively focused on the grass-tops. As advocacy campaigns have turned larger they have become more focused on the grassroots but both are still important. Can you do both grassroots and grass-tops advocacy? Yes!  And you should! Advocacy campaigns are always a question of resources, but often there is a way to target both grass-tops and constituents at the grassroots level. This approach can result in more bang for your buck in both effecting change and gaining more attention for your issue. Many successful advocacy campaigns use this two-pronged approach by making shrewd tactical decisions to keep the budget under control. Want to learn more about grassroots and grass-tops advocacy campaigns? Drop us a line or download our e-book, The Complete Guide to Advocacy.  Fri, 12 May 2017 08:00:40 EDT
3 Ways ActionSprout Can Bolster Your Grassroots Strategy Elena Veatch Cultivate a Grassroots Strategy That Turns Passion Into Action. Progressives across the country are fired up and ready to resist Trump’s agenda – but does your campaign have a strong grassroots strategy to turn your supporters’ passion into action? A robust supporter base is crucial to a successful grassroots strategy, but it takes time and effort to build an email list and keep those who opt in engaged. Luckily, tools like ActionSprout are making it easier than ever to accomplish both tasks – below are three ways the tool can help. 1. Build Your List with Flexibility For years, traditional CPA platforms such as Care2 and have made it possible for campaigns of all stripes to add supporters to their email lists by prompting folks to take an action (such as signing a petition). However, budget minimums, targeting constraints, and timing requirements have made the CPA landscape less accessible to smaller campaigns as of late, which can seem to throw a wrench in your campaign’s grassroots strategy. Luckily, ActionSprout can serve as a more flexible list-building alternative. Your campaign can use the platform to host actions for folks to participate in at the click of a button (and without ever having to leave Facebook). You can create a Facebook ad targeted to the audience your messaging may resonate with, and direct all ad clicks to your ActionSprout action to get new supporters to sign up for more information. ActionSprout also has a new feature that allows you to create a profile picture overlay for Facebook users to add to their personal profile photos to show their support for your campaign. The system captures the email addresses of each user who adopts your campaign’s profile picture frame, serving as another fun way to list-build on your own terms. 2. Learn What Works (And What Doesn’t) Your campaign can also use ActionSprout to track metrics for your actions, as well as for your campaign Facebook page’s posts. On the ActionSprout dashboard, you can easily access these stats, including action completions, views, conversion rates, and the number of times the link to has been shared across Facebook, as well as post comments, reactions, and shares. These metrics can help your campaign figure out the types of posts your supporters tend to respond to and engage with the most. This way, you can tailor your future content based on what works (and what doesn’t). What’s more, you can follow other organizations and campaigns with similar goals on ActionSprout to see how their posts and actions are performing. This can also be useful in figuring out the messaging that resonates with your supporters so that you can further bolster your grassroots strategy. 3. Make the Most of Your Supporters Finally, you can use ActionSprout to track levels of engagement among your supporters. The platform shows you which supporters have been the most active over time, ranking them by an engagement metric that’s based on how many times each person has reacted to and commented on your posts, completed your actions, or donated to your cause. ActionSprout can thus help your campaign make the most out of your support base by empowering your dedicated supporters to take their enthusiasm to the next level. Check out our ebooks: The Complete Guide to Advocacy and our 100 Best Campaign Tools list to help find other useful tools and tips to help your grassroots strategy! Thu, 11 May 2017 08:00:10 EDT
Best Practices for Your Next Protest Sign Tracy Wood I Saw The Protest Signs Are you flexing your social activism muscle by heading to a local rally or protest and want to make memorable protest signs? Your design is just as important as your message. Legibility and contrast are the key elements to an impactful sign. Here are some tips to help you. Legibility: Font choice is everything! Even though you might be creating protest signs by hand, you still have to think about your font. Will you use block, bubble, or stenciled lettering? Depending on the length of your message you may want to pick something on the narrow side. ( That does NOT mean the same as thin!) The strokes of each letter should have a relative thickness to them to be legible from a distance. Test it out by viewing the sign from 20 to 30 feet away. The spacing between letters and words is called kerning, and it's important to keep this in mind when writing your protest signs. Make sure you plan ahead and have enough space for your full message. Contrast: Bright colors are eye-catching, but you have to be sure there is proper contrast. For example, yellow letters on a white sign are not very visible. Without diving too deep into Color Theory, keep in mind that simplicity is best for this type of project. Prominent colors should be paired with neutral colors. Two bright colors together, Chromostereopsis, will drive your eyes bonkers, using two competing prominent colors is the equivalent of using all caps and 15 exclamation points. Just don’t. A contrast of sizes can also be useful to emphasize keywords. Make vital words larger or a contrasting color. Side note on Materials: Foam boards are sturdier than posterboards Tiny Markers= A lot of filling in. Try wider markers or paint. Consider using a sheet for long banners. You can paint the letters and fold it away for ease of transportation.  Inspiration: With the thousands of people who have marched worldwide for causes, there have been quite a few great protest signs that have been already made. Inspiration for your next protest sign is always a good place to start when deciding what kind of message you want to spread. Here are a few great protest signs we have seen that could be the base of your next awesome sign! Mon, 08 May 2017 10:31:18 EDT
Political Testing on a Budget: Small Campaigns Can Test. The Campaign Workshop Every year, people do programs without including political testing. There are some programs that testing wouldn’t make sense for, but as folks get better at doing testing, it has become more possible, even for smaller projects. If you’re thinking of doing some Political Testing, here is our advice on how to pull it off for smaller projects: 1. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. If you can do a full experiment informed program EIP great!, but you are not testing on a budget.  EIP's are great and can work well for a big program but if you can afford an EIP read a different blog post. Testing on a budget means keeping it all about the basics. Don't try and find out too many things. Try and learn one thing.  Start with a single goal and get agreement on that. 2. Get your coalition on board early. When it comes to political testing, folks often change their mind. The earlier you can get an agreement, the more likely you are to keep on track; the longer you are negotiating on a goal, the less likely you are to accomplish your goal. 3. Keep the survey as simple as possible. Complicated surveys are harder on phone banks and cost more to complete. The simpler the survey, the fewer issues you will have. 4. Keep the survey short. Short surveys cost less. More questions cost more money and have less completes. The shorter the survey, the less it will cost and the less likely you will have completion issues. 5. Strive for actionable information. Testing allows you to find out lots of interesting things, but the information you can find is not always usable in the short or long term. Make sure you are gaining information you can use. 6. Don't be afraid of creating a control group. Many folks are afraid of control groups. Not me. In most cases, groups that are trying to do a test cannot afford to reach the control group in a real way anyway, so learn for the long term. 7. Budget for more than you need. Even with short and simple surveys, the cost of surveys is increasing big time. Don't just take your phone bank’s word for it. Testing projects can always increase in budget, especially with small projects; getting the needed sample size can take longer and cost more than expected. Budget for live and hand dialed calls because you will not get the same amount of completes by just doing IVR calls. My advice is to budget for 20 percent more than you think you will need. Hopefully, you won't need it. 8. .Go Digital: Emails, and digital ads can be tested cheaply.  Using best practices you should be testing your digital campaign all the time to refine.   The bottom line is, testing is a good thing. Long-term information can help most programs and make your next program even better. Have more questions on how to jumpstart your campaign? Check out our ebooks here Thu, 04 May 2017 08:00:14 EDT
5 Ways to Make Your Volunteers Feel Valued in Your Grassroots Organization Elena Veatch Volunteers Are the Heart and Soul of Your Grassroots Organization, Be Sure to Treat Them That Way. Volunteer recruitment is a crucial component of any strong grassroots organization. Whether these folks are phone banking, canvassing, or staffing events- your volunteer base (or lack thereof) can make (or break) your campaign. It’s difficult to recruit volunteers for any political or advocacy campaign in the first place—not everyone has the time, energy, or desire to clock in unpaid hours for a candidate or cause that they support. But it can be even harder to retain volunteers in your grassroots organization once you get them in the door. If you want your volunteers to keep coming back, be sure to make them feel valued in your grassroots organization. Don’t treat them like cogs in a machine—show them that they are the heart and soul of your campaign. Here are 5 ways to do just that.  1. Give them a “Why.” Chances are you don’t have the resources to feed your volunteers every time they show up for your cause, let alone pay them—so be sure to give them reasons to want to keep fueling your grassroots organization. Create an environment that makes volunteers genuinely excited to show up. The work they’ll be doing for your campaign may not always be easy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun. What’s more, make it clear to your volunteers that the work they’re doing matters. For example, if someone spends a lot of time canvassing for your grassroots organization, be sure they know that the personal connections they’re making with voters at the doors are crucial to your campaign’s success. 2.  Create a Community Build relationships with your volunteers. Remember the personal details they share with you and ask questions about their lives to show that you care. When you put in the effort to get to know the people who are devoting time to your grassroots organization for free, they’ll be likelier to volunteer regularly. Work to cultivate a sense of camaraderie among your volunteers as well, so that they feel like valuable members of a team. If you can afford it, it doesn’t hurt to get t-shirts for all the people who make up your grassroots organization, from volunteers to interns to organizers to managers. When people look the part of a team, they’re likelier to feel more connected to it and committed to its success. 3. Trust and Delegate Trust your tried and true volunteers with real responsibilities and empower them to do more for your grassroots organization. If someone is particularly enthusiastic about phone banking, make them a volunteer leader when you host a phone banking event. If another volunteer is always eager to canvass, show them how to put together canvass packets so that they can take the lead on coordinating your door-to-door efforts on a Saturday morning. Your volunteers will feel valued and more invested in your grassroots organization when you trust and delegate. Plus, doing so will grant you more time to focus on longer-term strategy instead—it’s a win-win. 4. Offer Incentives  Switch things up with some friendly competition to give your volunteers incentives to show up. If you’re kicking off a big GOTV push for your grassroots organization, announce beforehand that the volunteer who commits to the most shifts, knocks on the most doors, or recruits the most additional volunteers on their route will get a prize. You’ll make your volunteers more engaged and invested in their work by showing them that you value their success as members of your team. 5. Thank Them Don’t forget to verbally express your gratitude on a regular basis for the time and effort your volunteers put in for your grassroots organization. There’s no better way to make people feel valued than to tell them that they are. Surprising your volunteers with pizza at an evening of phone banking or donuts and coffee to start off a morning of canvassing from time to time certainly won’t hurt morale, either. Have questions on Grassroots Organization? Check out our ebooks and blog posts to learn more! Mon, 01 May 2017 08:00:21 EDT
Tackling Your First Political Job Hunt Elena Veatch Tips to Make Your First Political Job Search as Painless As It Can Be If job hunting at any stage in life is a daunting process, searching for your first ever political job as a young person can be soul-crushing. While you may not be able to avoid all the headaches and meltdowns that accompany your transition into the Real World, these tips for your first political job hunt will at least help you breathe more easily (and maybe even sleep at night) as you navigate. 1. Know When to Start Applying When it comes to landing your first political job, the timing can be frustratingly unclear. I spent my entire last semester of college applying for D.C. jobs, only to realize that most of those positions required an immediate start date. If you send out applications too early, you can expect radio silence and/or rejections, not to mention plenty of wasted time and effort. With campaign or Hill jobs, it’s not out of the ordinary to apply for, interview for, and start a job within a time frame as short as a week or two. While the hiring timeline differs with every organization (I interviewed for months on end at some think tanks), know what you’re getting yourself into by asking questions and being honest about your own timeline for starting your first political job. 2. Clean up Your Resume in Advance Before you embark on your political job hunt, make sure your resume is ready to go—updated, clean, and concise. Always keep it to one page by tailoring if necessary. If you have lots of experience to tout, include only what’s most relevant to the position you’re applying for (but keep a longer master copy of your resume to draw from for each application). Be sure always to save and send your resume as a PDF (not a Word document). This way, you can avoid any formatting nightmares that might arise if your prospective employer opens your attachment with a different version of Word. A sea of resume clutter might take even the most qualified candidate out of the running for a job. 3.  Talk to Anyone and Everyone  Networking used to sound like a dirty word when people preached its importance to me—but all it means is talking to people you find interesting. It’s never too early to start, and there are lots of ways to go about it. I used to browse through the LinkedIn profiles of alums from my college and reach out to those whose jobs sounded awesome, asking to pick their brain sometime. If your friend’s parent, uncle, cousin, etc. works in politics or advocacy, chat about it with them over coffee. Go to lectures and roundtables with questions. Don’t be afraid to ask someone how they got to where they are in their career—most people remember all too well what it’s like to be starting out. If you express interest in someone’s work, the worst-case scenario is that they’ll be too busy to chat. More often than not, they’ll be excited to share some insight. Plus, they might keep you in mind if they hear of political job openings in the future. 4. Value Your Gut  In figuring out what to apply for during your first political job hunt, keep an open mind, but use your time and efforts wisely. It never hurts to put some feelers out in unexpected places during your search, but don’t spend hours applying for jobs that you know you’ll never want to do. If you’re not a numbers person and have no interest in changing that, don’t waste your time applying for data-heavy jobs. If you think you could be a data person if given the chance to learn, and the prospect of doing so excites you, take a chance and apply. And finally, if a political job sounds perfect on paper but turns out not to be what you’re looking for, don’t force yourself to want it. If something doesn’t feel like a good fit after an interview, it’s often because it’s not. 5. Don’t Rule Out Short-Term Gigs Don’t be afraid to apply for short-term gigs, like election cycle positions. You’ll learn a ton about the path in politics you’re trying out, and you’ll learn just as much about yourself and what kind of work is satisfying to you. If you don’t love your short-term political job, you won’t be obligated to stick around anyway. If you do love it and you make that clear to senior staff, there’s always a chance the gig could turn into a longer-term run. Either way, don’t avoid applying for a political job or turn down an offer just because the opportunity has an expiration date. Every experience, no matter the duration, will help you grow and put you in a better spot to plot your next move when it’s time to move on. 6. Tackle Every Interview with a Game Plan While you never want to recite robotic talking points from a piece of paper during any interview, have a few things prepared that you want to emphasize about yourself. Figure out which of your strengths will be most relevant to the political job at hand, and have examples of how those traits/skills have helped you excel in previous roles. Mastering the art of articulating exactly why you’ll make a great hire is crucial in any context.   7. Give it Time Don’t expect your first political job hunt to be without bumps along the way. If you learn productively from your mistakes as your search goes on, things will eventually fall into place, and you’ll land that first job—just give it time. Check out these links to find more political job opportunities: Some great job boards for political jobs in DC include: Tom Manatos(link is external) Brad Traverse(link is external) Jobs that are Left(link is external) Democratic Gain(link is external)  Senate Employment Bulletin(link is external) House Vacancy Announcements Thu, 27 Apr 2017 08:00:00 EDT
Digital Advocacy Tactics Advocacy Campaigns Can Learn from Political Campaigns Lizzie Kendrick Tips and Tactics Advocacy Campaigns Can Glean from 2016 Political Campaigns for Successful Digital Advocacy Digital Advocacy is on everyone's mind. Last month, I attended the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C. and one panel caught my eye: New Tools From the 2016 Elections That Nonprofit Techies Need to Know About. Given that our clients are both campaigns and nonprofits, it was a perfect fit.  There were some really valuable takeaways from the session that I wanted to share with you all.  1. Email is not dead, but it’s not the only game in town. Email is still an incredibly effective tool for campaigns (political and advocacy alike) to use for fundraising and getting people to take action. It’s extremely important to test with email – test subject lines, test images, test message, test everything. Email makes testing easy. While email is essential, campaigns in 2016 explored other forms of communication with their supporters. Podcasts, text, social media (even channels like Reddit worked in some instances), proved very effective for campaigns. The key here is making the message match the format and communicating with your audience where they live.  2. Make donating easy for your supporters. It sounds simple, but many organizations are making donating money to their causes a barrier to entry. Having a mobile-friendly donation page, utilizing one-click donations when possible, and tailoring content to a donor based on their history helps make donating frictionless for a user which will turn into more donations for you.  3. Tools to make your job easier. Those who work in both political and advocacy campaigns are often working incredibly hard with limited resources. Tools that can contribute to making your job easier are always useful, and the panelists talked about a few that are worth highlighting for digital advocacy campaigns: • Frackture – this can help with data management especially if your organization uses different platforms for different teams. Frackture can help integrate these.  • Tableau – helpful tool for looking at reporting over a long period of time.  • CRM – there are a ton of different CRM tools to use, but the important things to look for are whether or not they will help you track engagement, segment your list, report on your list, enable testing, use one-click donations.  • Texting tools – Tools like Hustle make it easier than ever to text with your supporters.  • Slack – this is one tool that came up again and again with both political and advocacy staffers. Slack can help streamline communication within your organization and makes setting yourself up for a rapid response much easier.    I always love attending the Nonprofit Technology Conference to learn more about what cutting edge tactics people are using for good, especially any new digital advocacy tactics . For more information about tools that your campaign can use, check out our roundup of 100 Campaign Tools.   Mon, 24 Apr 2017 08:15:20 EDT

Let's Talk

Our team has worked for candidates and causes, big and small, across the country.

Receive EMAIL UPDATES from The Campaign Workshop blog!