*Originally written by Joe Fuld and updated by Elena Veatch 4/3/18
When you get into politics, it’s hard to resist the all too common tunnel vision of focusing only on politics. But be careful – binge watching Veep or The West Wing is not going to help you run a better campaign or organization; nor will reading solely political books.
The fact is, you are running a business. And while we like to think of politics and business as totally separate realms, it’s tough to run any political operation without a Business 101 crash course. So, take a break from the latest Clinton campaign staffer or Obama aide memoir you are probably reading, and check out some of our non-political book recommendations. Below are ten non-political books that will be helpful to any politico running a campaign, a non-profit, or really any operation.
Ballot language for ballot initiatives matters more than anything else but don't take our word for it. It has long been said that ballot measure language can be the difference between winning and losing. Here are some basics on ballot measure wording and how it can make or break your measure:
Member public affairs strategies can be an amazing way to move your issue forward. Membership organizations should have a head start when it comes to public affairs strategies, but that head start is often complicated. Membership organizations tend to have bureaucratic structures that make it difficult to work nimbly, especially when it comes to public affairs. Because of this, some member organizations have avoided using member-based public affairs strategies and they are missing out.
Here are some ways to use your membership to enhance public affairs strategies by turning them into member public affairs strategies.
Digital Campaigns and the Googlization of American Politics
Searching for answers on the web has become a fixture in our lives. Want to go to a movie? Search the time and showings. Buying a house? Search for listings. Interested in a candidate or a local issue? Ask Google.
But when it comes to political and advocacy digital campaigns, why do many folks ignore tactics that drive search results for digital campaigns? Why is the web relegated to an intern or volunteer instead of seen as a strategic tool?
In my 20 years working in politics, I have seen a lot of things change. Technology in particular has done a lot to change the way that we communicate with voters. Yet somehow, we in politics have access to more information about our audience than ever before, but our audience engagement is at an all time low.
That’s because politics relies on the same tools we always have: TV, radio, door-to-door, mail and now digital ads. Campaigns are missing an important piece of the puzzle: content marketing.
Your nonprofit facebook ad will need an image to display on users newsfeeds or right-hand rails. In a platform like Facebook, where viewers are accustomed to scrolling continuously, you’re going to need an image that is arresting enough to stop the scroll. Make sure the photo or illustration you use has a clear focal point that is either intriguing or easily recognizable and relevant to a viewer’s interests. If you sell shoes, pick your snazziest pair, put them on a clean background that shows them off. If you’re running for office, you could use an image of a local landmark or a picture of a well-known person who is endorsing you. Whatever image you choose, make sure it is arresting, and communicates something important about you, your cause, or your business.
How Democrats Can Jumpstart Their Campaigns for the Future
Races are heating up, but there are a number of exciting opportunities for Democrats up and down the ticket. Here are some tips to jumpstart your Democratic campaign:
1. Do a thorough self-assessment. Are you ready to run? Does your family support you? Does your community support you? Have you done your politics? These are important questions to ask and know the answer to before you even file to run. If you can confidently answer, “yes” to these questions, you are ready to jumpstart your campaign.
2. Plan, plan, plan! The biggest mistake a candidate can make is failing to create a campaign plan. Your campaign plan should include a vote goal, budget, timeline, and message. Campaigns themselves are living, breathing animals once they heat up, but your campaign plan should pretty much stay the same.
3. Focus on the right stuff. It’s really easy to get caught up in the back and forth of a heated race and allow that to throw you off course. The best Democratic campaigns stay focused on directly communicating their message with targeted voters and turning them out. Period. Everything else is just noise.
4. Do the work. Running for office is hard. Doing what it takes to win is often even harder. Spending hours on the phone, asking for money every single day, is tough. Knocking on every targeted voters door is exhausting. But this is usually what it takes to win. The best way to jumpstart your campaign is to embrace the work and lean into it. You’re probably running because you want to represent your community—use this time to get to know them and ask them to join your campaign.
Advocacy and Elections: Love, Marriage, and Health Care
If you have not read the opinions from last week’s Supreme Court rulings, you should check them out. You can read summaries of the opinions on marriage equality here, and excerpts on the Affordable Care Act ruling here. The opinions are amazing and the words of the majority opinion make me proud, but also sadden me, because there’s still a lot more work to be done and our opponents aren’t going to stop anytime soon.
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