Three Secrets You Should Know Before Running for Office
Posted 1/30/09 With the 2008 elections behind us, many aspiring politicians are spending the winter months trying to decide whether or not to run for office. Especially on a local level, a good candidate can wait until February or so to actually decide to run.
Having been apart of many campaigns, both on as field and general media consultant level, I’ve developed a list of three things all candidates should know before deciding to run for office. These things aren’t meant to scare a candidate or detour them from running. They’re just a reality check for candidates so they know what they’re getting into:
1) Fundraising: You will (or at least should) spend the majority of your time between now and the election raising money. You might not expect that, but in order to run a viable campaign, you will spend more than 85% of your time in the next nine months asking your friends and family for money. You won’t be developing policy. You won’t be marching in parades. You will be sitting behind a desk calling everyone you’ve ever known and asking them to make a donation to your campaign.
Then, you’ll call them back again and again until they’ve given the maximum allowed. Then, you’ll call them back again to ask for a list of everyone they know so you can start calling their friends and family. That’s the biggest wake up call candidates for after they decide to run for office. They don’t realize how hard it is and how much time it takes to raise money. This applies to ALL candidates. You might be thinking, “oh, I can raise the money…it won’t take that much work.” If so, you’re in for a huge wake up call!
2) Events: You will spend every single Friday, Saturday and Sunday at some kind of event you’d probably prefer not to go to. Every single weekend between now and election day will be filled with church fundraisers, parades, picnics, community council meetings, etc. If you like warm draft beer, walking in four hour long parades in July and listening to community council members talking about why they can’t get Wolgang Puck to open a restaurant in their neighborhood, this part of the campaign might be right up your alley!
3) Consultants: You might be inclined to develop your own campaign message strategy and execute it yourself through TV ads, mail, etc.. However, it’s as simple as this: If you try to manage your campaign message and it’s execution yourself, you will lose. You’re probably an expert in some field, whether you’re a lawyer, doctor, executive, non-profit director, but you’re not an expert in political marketing. No matter how many campaigns you’ve volunteered on, how many commercials you’ve seen, or how many close friends you have who’ve worked on campaigns, if you don’t hire a good political marketing consultant (for example, The Seidewitz Group…hint hint), you’re on a clear path to defeat.
So, now you have a clearer picture of what the rest of your year will be like if you decide to run for office. Sure, a campaign has a lot of rewards. It really does. It’s the business I’m in and I love it.
But…there are a lot of wake up calls candidates don’t expect.
So, good luck in your decision and if you decide to run, give me a call!