Who’s Your Audience?

Understanding your audience is the first step in any successful communicative act, and as such it is of the utmost importance to your campaign. Performing an audience analysis can improve the effectiveness of your campaign by helping you better understand how to construct your campaign message. An audience analysis is “a study of the pertinent elements defining the makeup and characteristics of an audience.” When organizing your campaign, and particularly when you are creating your communication plan, it is important to understand your various audiences.

Audiences of Interest

Functional audiences are those audiences “composed of individuals or groups that help the organization function on a day-to-day basis”. Functional audiences are audiences that are internal to the organization of the campaign, and without these individuals, the organization would cease to function. An example of a functional audience that is present in a campaign are donors. Donors are individuals that are motivated to donate their resources (time, money, etc.) to helping the campaign achieve its goals. Without donors your campaign would likely cease to function, and at the very least, would fail to function successfully.

Another audience of interest is the normative audience. The normative audience is “composed of individuals in organizations that face similar challenges” to your own situation. These audiences might look to your campaign to lead by example, or they may be looking at you to see if you are going to mess up. For example, candidates within your own party might look to your campaign to help create a unified message for the party between candidates. Or, maybe they are looking to your campaign to make sure you do not do anything to embarrass their own campaigns.

The final audience to be discussed is the diffused audience. Members of this audience are “removed further from the organization, yet still have an interest or potential influence” on the campaign. This audience is made up of members of the community that are removed enough from the campaign to not have an internal impact on the campaign, but still have a hand in the success or failure of the campaign. The best example of members of a diffused audience when it comes to campaigning are the voters. Without these people your campaign could not be successful.

Audience Factors

There are various factors to consider about your audience when performing an audience analysis. First, understanding the audience’s knowledge about a topic is crucial when it comes to reaching your audience. Communication is the process of working to create a shared meaning within a target audience, and if your audience does not understand the topic you are speaking about then no shared meaning can be created. For example, when trying to reach out to the voters, you are going to want to make sure to stick to the topics they understand. Voters come with a certain level of knowledge to the speaking engagement, and as a candidate, it is important that you speak to that knowledge.

Considering the audience’s interests is another important factor to consider when speaking to your audience. People will be less likely to pay attention to messages they do not care about. So, understanding what your audience finds interesting will only help you not only better analyze your audience, but it will also help you better cater your campaign messaging to the issues people care about. Considering an audience’s interest is of key importance when trying to reach your functional audience. Without resources your campaign cannot function. And, if people are not interested in your message, they will be less likely to be interested in helping your campaign achieve success. When people are interested, however, they are more likely to help.

The audience also comes with a certain set of expectations about the speaker when participating in a political event. Violating these expectations can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of your campaign. When you are running for office, for example, those in your normative audience have certain expectations of you and when you violate those expectations, bad things can happen. Other campaigns within your own party, for example, expect you to act a certain way, and talk about certain issues in a certain way, and when you fail to do this, you can be ostracized from your party. This division will not, in any way, serve any positive function for your campaign.

Understanding your campaign audience is crucial to your campaign. If you need help analyzing your campaign audiences, the consultants at Lone Star Campaigns can provide you the information you need to better understand the various audiences in your campaign. Even in the most contested races, where the odds were stacked against the third-party candidate, our consultants have a history of reaching the target audiences and producing results.

For more information regarding understanding -your- audience, or other campaign services, feel free to contact us.

So You’re Ready to Run For Office- Things to Consider

Running for political office is a large step, and not something to be taken lightly. There are many things to consider when you are deciding to run for office, such as family, work, and financial commitments. This blog, however, will only deal with three. Those three are (1) what do you need to win, (2) who is your audience, and (3) do you have a campaign staff?

What Do You Need to Win?

One of the very first things you need to consider when running for political office is what you need to do to ultimately make your campaign a success. If you are in the surfacing and primary/convention stage of the campaign do you know what portion of the delegation you need to win? Or, if it is during the general elections stage, what portion of your audience do you need to win? It may not always be 51%, and if you are a third party candidate, you could win with as little as 34% of the vote in a three-way-race.

If you are a third party candidate though history has shown us that winning might actually be a long-shot. However, it is also important to consider what positives your campaign can accomplish, even if you do not end up winning the race. Considering secondary, or minimal, goals can make it to where, even if you lose the election, your campaign is still a success. For example, in the 2018 election, Larry Sharpe ran an exceptionally organized campaign for Governor of New York. Even though Larry Sharpe received less than 2% of the total vote, not only was he able to out raise his Republican opponent, he was also able to successfully achieve ballot access for the state of New York. So, even though in the end he lost the race, he was still able to make a difference. What difference can your campaign make?

Who is Your Audience?

Another important thing to consider when running for office is the question regarding who your audience. Are you trying to reach delegates within your party for nomination? Or, are you trying to reach the general public. For example, if you are a Libertarian candidate and you’re seeking the nomination, you should make sure your prioritize a Libertarian audience. However, if you are running in the general election you are going to need to find messaging that not only can reach your Libertarian audience, but a wider audience as well. If you do not have an audience in mind when creating your political strategy your campaign will more than likely fail to reach any audience.

For example, in the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump knew that he probably would not win the popular vote. Hillary was going for the big cities, which is quite possibly one of the things that completely derailed her campaign. Where Hillary focused on the most populated areas around the country, Donald Trump focused on the states that had been “forgotten”. As a result, he was able to win these states, and their associated electoral votes. Understanding his audience is what won him the race.

If you think you have a pretty good idea of who your audience is (after all, you are a member of the community in which you are running), do you know what you need to do to reach this audience? Maybe you are running in a state wide race and you cannot make it to all 254 counties in the state of Texas. But, given that it is a popular vote, if you could just make it to a few perhaps you should consider visiting the larger counties and making enough (positive) noise that you are noticed by the press. In 2018 Mark Ash was able to maintain ballot access for the Libertarian Party on a state-wide ticket campaigning mainly in Harris County.

Do You Have an Organized Staff?

Do you have an organized campaign staff? Do you already have an idea of who your volunteers are? Do you know what type of funding your campaign will have? Will you be able to hire a staff? Or, will you need an entirely volunteer-run campaign? These are important questions to consider when asking the question “should I run?”.

Hiring a campaign staff is beneficial to your campaign in multiple ways. Working your campaign alone is a mistake. Doing this will leave you very little time for actually campaigning. However, having the right team can leave more time for you to actually campaign, and get out there to reach the voters. Having a campaign team consists of multiple people working to help your campaign succeed, offering more hands on deck to help your campaign achieve its goals. Campaign teams also bring legitimacy to your campaign, and the many viewpoints within a team could help your campaign team better understand how to reach a wider audience.

A thing to consider when building your campaign team is creating the roles people will fill, and their duties, bringing organization to the campaign structures. When members of the team do no understand their roles, team productivity will decrease, and altercations emerge.

And, finally, do you know where you will find qualified people to fill these roles? If you need volunteers, do you know where to seek them out? Or, if you need paid staff, what are you looking for in a campaign team?

 

 

 

 

Why LoneStar Campaigns

If you need help formulating your campaign goals, the consultants at LoneStar Campaigns are here and ready to help. Whether you need to determine what percentage of the audience you need to win, or what other positive outcomes your campaign can achieve, the consultants at LoneStar Campaigns can work with you to help determine what it would take to make your campaign a success.

The experienced campaign consultants at LoneStar Campaigns can also help you analyze and reach your target audience. LoneStar Campaigns can provide information regarding who your audience is, and who you need to reach them. We can also help you create a communication strategy to reach those particular audiences. Everything is catered to your campaign and your needs.

LoneStar Campaigns can also help you with your staffing needs. Whether it is helping you organize your campaign, finding volunteers and/or staff, or even managing your campaign, we are here to help you create the perfect campaign team.

For further information, or to ask any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Hiring a Political Consultant

One of the major issues discussed when it comes to political campaigning is campaign finance and money in politics. The two major parties seem to have a stronghold when it comes to party financing, and this lack of money has helped attribute to the smaller party’s abilities to find a voice in the crowd. However, for the smaller parties, funding a full time staff of experts can be an issue that is fatal to their campaign. Many times these candidates are charged with running their own campaigns due to the lack-of-ability to hire a staff. And, while most of these campaigns could be staffed with volunteers and interns, the access to expert advice is crucial to campaign success. If you find yourself in this predicament, entering into a short-term agreement with a political campaign consultant is right for you.

Campaign consultants bring an outside, objective perspective to your campaign. Candidates, especially third-party candidates, often find themselves having to manage their entire campaign. Due to this candidates are often too close to their campaign and often they fail to see the campaign from the outside. Campaigns are acts of communication, and if the sender fails to connect with the audience, the communication attempt will more than likely result in failure. Working with a campaign consultant offers the candidate, and campaign, an opportunity to see what the campaign looks like from the audience’s perspective.

Having just an audience’s perspective is not the only benefit a campaign consultant provides for a political campaign. Having an understanding of what the audience sees is pointless unless you understand what to do with that information. Campaign consultants not only bring a level of understanding-the-audience to the campaign, but they also provide an understanding of what to do with that information.

Finally, hiring a full time staff can be costly for a campaign, and smaller third party campaigns know this best. However, hiring a campaign consultant gives your campaign the opportunity to receive expert advice with short-term costs. Which will, undoubtedly, save your campaign both time and money.

If your campaign is looking to hire a consultant, or if you have any questions regarding your campaign, LoneStar Campaigns is here to help. The consultants at LoneStar Campaigns are motivated to help candidates spread the message of liberty, and provide their services based on the individual needs of campaigns. Click here for more information LoneStar Campaign’s services, or here to contact us with your questions.

Social Media Strategy- In a Nutshell

With both the most recent presidential winners attributing their success to the strategic use of social media it is important for candidates to consider their social media strategy. Running the social media of a political campaign is so much more than just sharing content and hoping for “hits”.  Running the social media of a political campaign means researching and understanding your audience, adapting and learning how to reach them. Having a good social media strategy in place will help your campaign reach your campaign goals in a more efficient manner.

To put it simply, a social media strategy is the plan to achieve your campaign goals using the medium of social media. Creating a social media strategy makes you answer those questions like “who is my audience” and “what do they want”?

Your social media strategy is usually part of your communication strategy and having a good social media strategy from the beginning is key. Waiting to implement a strategy is wasting valuable time. You need ever minute you have in order to build your social media following and engagement to help your campaign succeed.

Having a social media strategy can help your campaign in several ways. First, it forces you to think about your campaign goals and how the use of social media can help you achieve those goals. For example, if you are hoping to expand the reach of your message, or to get people involved in the promotion of your message, then focusing your social media strategy towards extending your reach could be beneficial to your campaign. Second, having a social media strategy can help you give definitions to how success is measured. Having a social media strategy can help you quantify your goals, so you know what you need to do to achieve those goals. A third benefit having a good social media strategy can bring to your campaign is that it offers you the opportunity to learn from both the mistakes and successes of your competition.

One thing you should consider when working on your social media strategy is who your audience is. A social media strategy helps you not only to define that audience, but plan ways that you, and your message, can best reach your audience. A second thing you should consider when working on your social media strategy is what you are, realistically, hoping to achieve with your campaign. It is always important to consider what you, the candidate, would consider a success. It is also important to consider what your team considers a success. And, finally, it is always important to adapt and overcome. As your social media strategy progresses, it is important to analyze the data, and adapt your message and strategy to the targeted audience.

If you need help with your social media strategy LoneStar Campaigns’ experienced consultants can help you design a social media strategy specific to you campaign. Other consultants charge upwards of $3,000 a month to help you create and implement a social media strategy. However, the consultants at LoneStar Campaigns can help you create a social media strategy that works for your campaign, at a fraction of the average price, and help you find the staff or volunteers to help. Every decision is based off what your campaign needs.

For more information feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.

Source Credibility

As discussed in a previous entry, communication is the process of creating a shared meaning, and that process starts with the sender. There are a multitude of ways the sender can impact the message. But, this blog will only focus on one; source credibility.

Source credibility was heavily studied by American psychologist Carl Hovland during World War II for the purpose of better understanding the impact of propaganda on populations.  Source credibility refers to the implication that certain characteristics about the sender will impact the receiver’s acceptance, or rejection, of the message. In other words, source credibility is one way to  explain how a receiver interprets a message. Although there are five dimensions of source credibility, this entry will only focus on three. The two this entry will not talk about are  sociability and extroversion.

DIMENSIONS OF SOURCE CREDIBILITY 

Competence

Competence refers to “having requisite or adequate abilities or skills“.  The voters want to know that the person they are electing is capable of doing the job in question. There are seven values that might impact the way a receiver interprets a message based on perceptions of receiver competence. These values are qualification, expertise, reliability, believably, openness, value and currency. This blog will focus on three.

Qualifications

Qualifications refer to having “special skill, knowledge, or ability that makes someone suitable for a particular job or activity“. A candidates qualifications are often an area  of  examination and concern when it comes to whether or not one would vote for a particular individual. And, when these qualification expectations are broken, the candidate will usually suffer from some form of credibility. For example, in 2016 one of the major areas of concern for those not convinced they should vote for Hillary Clinton were her e-mails. This controversy brought Clinton’s understanding of information security into question, damaging not only her credibility but, ultimately, her campaign. In the end, demonstrating that one is qualified for office is of the most importance when it comes to being a candidate.

Expertise

It is also important that candidates demonstrate some level of expertise when it comes to running for office. As with a candidate’s qualifications, demonstrating that one has “a special skill, knowledge, or ability that makes one suitable” for office. Possibly nobody knows this better than Gary Johnson, also a candidate in the 2016 United States Presidential Election. When asked a question regarding Aleppo, Gary Johnson replied with none other than… “What’s Aleppo?” This made people question whether or not Gary Johnson had the experience and understanding when it came to matters of foreign policy. This was, quite possibly, one of the most damaging moments when it comes to Johnson’s 2016 campaign.

Reliability

Finally, people want to know that the people wanting to represent them in office will be reliable. If a candidate is not deemed reliable, then the candidate will more than likely suffer some serious issues when it comes to their credibility. The 2016 United States Presidential election is full of examples when it comes to what-not-to-do as a candidate, so it’s no surprise that Hillary Clinton’s campaign makes it on our list. On top of damaging her credibility, Clinton handed Trump an argument against her reliability. When Hillary Clinton ran for office in 2008, she ran an advertisement assuring children that she would be there to answer the call at 3:00 am if something were to happen. However, on September 11, 2012, Hillary Clinton was accused of not “answering the call“. As a result, Donald Trump was able to attack her reliability, and ultimately her credibility.

Character

The second dimension this entry is going to talk about is character. Character refers to “one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual“. The four values that may determine the source’s character are kindness, sympathy, selflessness, and virtue. However, in the name of saving time, I am going to limit this discussion (as usual) to three.

Virtue

Aristotle defines “virtue” as the disposition to behave in the right manner as a means between two extremes, the extremes of excess and deficiency. For example, when a candidates runs for office on a “rich people are at fault” platform, that candidate should probably not start off their life after campaigning by purchasing expensive items with what could be perceived as campaign contributions. However, this is exactly what the 2016 Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders decided to do. After running an entire campaign on the ideas of socialism, he bought a $575,000 vacation home. Even though his campaign had ended, this damaged his future credibility.

Selfishness

Selfishness is not a good image when it comes to building source credibility, especially as a candidate for public office. Politicians are already seen as blood sucking creatures, as evidenced by the image below.

As a result, it is important that a candidate consider their image when it comes to this value. According to Aristotle, selfishness can be considered a vice of excess, and it’s opposite would be extravagance. Being the opposite of selfishness, extravagance refers to being too “giving”. For example, one of the things that damaged Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential run was how openly superfluous he was about raising and increasing spending. This really brought into question his understanding of economics to the point that it became an Internet joke to send him an Economics book. According to Aristotle, the virtue between selfishness and and extravagance is generosity.

Kindness

Being perceived as kind is also an important value when it comes to running for office. Candidates that are seen as mean, or even as too self-sacrificing, are  not usually considered to be highly credible. Even though Donald Trump was elected in 2016 as POTUS, he is not considered one of the most credible sources. Donald Trump’s demeanor has taken a toll when it comes to his credibility, as he is often seen as mean, and often described as someone who is “attacking“.

Composure

The final dimension of source credibility I’m going to discuss is the dimension of composure. Composure is “the state or feeling of being calm and in control of oneself“. Although there are four synonymous values associated with the element of composure, again for the sake of time, I am only going to discuss three.

Excitability

Excitable candidates are not often seen as stable. Candidates that are seen as “being readily roused into… a state of excitement or irritability“. Finally taking a step back from the 2016 Presidential Election, I would like to draw your attention to the 2008 “Battle Cry that Backfired“. This scream is known to have ruined Howard Dean’s 2008 presidential run, and his appearance as a collected individual. He has now become memorialized as a meme.


Tension

Probably one of the greatest examples of tension and damage to one’s personal credibility, although not really in the realm of campaigning, is probably Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the United State’s Senate. During his testimony he came across as almost robot-like, which also caused Zuckerberg to be idolized as a meme. Although times might be changing, people do not have a tendency to hold people that are the butt-of-all-jokes as highly credible individuals.

Poise

It is also important that a candidate carries themselves with poise. They must carry themselves in a “dignified, self-confident manner or being; composure; self-possession” with a “steadiness or stability“. Coming back to the 2016 United States run for POTUS, because this campaign season in particular again is full of great examples of “what not to do” (probably why the 2016 election was a considered a 20-year-low), Hillary Clinton’s advertising asking why she wasn’t 50 points a head definitely makes the list of damaging campaign decisions. In this video, Hillary Clinton does not come across as “dignified”, but rather has a spoiled child demanding why she is not in the lead. This has been one of the many things that has led to Hillary Clinton’s negative ratings.

DYNAMICS OF SOURCE CREDIBILITY

There are also three dynamics of source credibility. These stages are initial credibility, transactional credibility, and terminal credibility.

Initial Credibility

The first dynamic of credibility begins before the source begins the communication process. This credibility is built based on the receiver’s preconceived notions about a source, and is derived from “initial judgments based on surface traits such as a person’s looks, his or her dress, or hairstyles“. One of the many issues facing the growth of the Libertarian Party is probably one of the greatest examples when it comes to issues with initial credibility. One of the faces highly, and tragically from a PR standpoint, recognized and associated with the Libertarian Party is that of Vermin Supreme. Yes, he is the man with the boot on his head that promised everyone a pony. When working to promote Libertarian Candidates this is one of the major hurdles I have had to overcome when it comes to building source credibility. Many times when coming across a potentially new Libertarian voter I must first distance my candidate from the boot-wearing candidate. This takes extra time, and puts up unnecessary dragons when coming to trying to persuade people to vote for a Libertarian candidate.

Transactional Credibility 

Transactional credibility is the credibility  that is gained or lost by the source in the process of communicating a message to an audience. One of the things that did more to hurt than help Ted Cruz’s Presidential Campaign was his decision to read “Green Eggs and Ham” in his “filibuster” regarding the Affordable Care Act. In this video you can almost seen the moment that he realizes his story is going to backfire on his point. Not only did this instance make him look a little silly, it also helped memorialize him as a meme.

Terminal Credibility

Finally, terminal credibility refers to the perceptions of the source’s credibility that are taken away (lasting) from the communication attempt. One of the politicians that probably suffers the worst from this is Sarah Palin, who has pretty much been referred to as the moment the GOP’s dysfunction began. How the audience views the candidate at the end of the encounter is crucial to whether or not that source will vote for that candidate.

In conclusion, it is important to consider a receiver’s perception of the source’s credibility, composure, and character of the candidate, and it it is important to consider these things at all stages of the communication process. In order to increase perceptions of confidence in the electorate a candidate can, for example, focus on things on which they are well informed. When working for Neal Dikeman, the Libertarian Nominee for United States Senate in the 2018 Texas Midterm Elections, one of the easiest things to “sell” about him was  his history as a serial entrepreneur while he was running on a fiscal responsibility campaign.

A candidate can help build source credibility through considering their composure by practicing their speeches before delivery. This will help the candidate give a smooth, confident delivery, and this will help build transactional credibility within the receiver. If a candidate is seen as ill-prepared then the voting body is less likely to have any confidence in the candidate’s credibility.

Finally, in order to build a good, lasting image, it is important that an image of buffoonery, for example, is not displayed. One of the biggest hurdles I have faced when it comes to selling any Libertarian candidate is the behavior at their national conventions, where in 2016 a Libertarian Party chairman decided to strip on stage. This has not left a good, lasting impression on the party. And, this has resulted in a negative initial credibility for candidates running on the Libertarian ticket.

Campaign Communication: An Overview

One of the most important things to consider when organizing your campaign is your campaign’s communication. Poor communication practices affect nearly every aspect of our daily lives as humans. Communication problems tend to be among the most complained about issues when it comes to destroying our interpersonal relationships, and both employees and bosses alike say poor communication is a top complaint. Even though the importance of good communication is known to those in academia, communication skills are considered some of the “biggest skills the new graduates lack”. Researchers have also found that inefficient communication has be power to bring down large corporations. With communication issues facing nearly every aspect of our daily lives, a poor communication strategy can undoubtedly have a negative impact on your campaign.

Your communication strategy can either make or break your campaign. For example, those campaigns that have found a way to master the use of social media have had a tendency to find themselves elected to office. In 2008 people were surprised when Obama beat Hillary for the nomination for POTUS. And, as we know, he then went on to take the presidency. This success was largely due to social media. During the campaign season “the Obama campaign… dominated new media” and capitalized “on a confluence of trends”.  In 2016 we saw this phenomenon again with the Trump campaign, but for different reasons. According to Brad Parscale, Trump’s digital director, Trump’s use of social media “helped generate the bulk of the campaign’s $250 million in online fundraising”. While many would claim that Obama and Trump are polar opposites, they are both united by their use of social media resulting in successful campaigns. In this blog I am going to touch on what communication is, and how good and bad communication can impact your campaign.

So, what is communication? Communication can be summed up as the process of working to create a shared meaning within a targeted audience. First it is important to emphasize that communication IS a process. With miscommunication being the problem that it is, it seems as though people have a tendency to forget that communication is actually a process, not just a one-sided transaction.

The Communication Process

Sender –> Encoding –> Channel –> Decoding –> Receiver

In this process, the sender decides that they want to send the receiver a message. The sender must then decide the best way to encode that message in a way the receiver will not only understand but receive in the way intended. We will go over message creation more in a later blog in this series. The sender will then decide the best way to send this message. Email? Social Media? Speech? There are multiple options. Once the receiver receives the message, the receiver must then decode the message. This is why the decisions made during the encoding stage are so important. Just like with a computer, if the receiver does not understand the data, the receiver will not be able to translate the data appropriately. The receiver then becomes the sender, and the process is started all over again once feedback is required.

Communication is the process of creating a shared meaning, and shared meanings can be a complicated thing. Humans use symbols to communicate, and if you do not have a shared meaning on those symbols you communication attempt will more than likely be unsuccessful. We will get more into messaging in a future blog, but this creation of a shared meaning is an important thing to remember when creating your communication strategy.

Finally, communication is the process of creating a shared meaning within a targeted audience. When deciding your communication strategy, it is important to consider the variety of audiences present, and what those audiences hope to gain from the communicative interaction. If you do not consider the appropriate audiences, your communication attempt will have a greater chance of failing. And, in political campaigns, especially third-party campaigns, failed communication attempts cost time and resources that are hard to come by. We will go over audiences in more detail in a future blog in this series.

Just as good communication can make your campaign a success, poor communication can make your campaign into an epic failure. One example of this happening is during Howard Dean’s 2008 scream.

This is a great example of “how a brief gaffe… can cause deep  damage to a politician’s image”. This act of poor communication caused Dean to “look more than a little bit kooky”, and has been attributed to his campaign failures.

Another great example, and a personal favorite, is Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign. This campaign really shows the importance of not only having a communication team, but a strong communication team. One of the communicative functions of the political campaign is to demonstrate that the candidate is fit for office. The voters “do not want elected officials who are viewed as… immoral, corrupt, [or] incompetent”, and Hillary’s campaign made her look like all three.

Hillary’s “Why am I not 50 points ahead” video made her look immoral, if not incompetent. As you watch, you will notice she comes off as an extreme authoritarian, as though she is owed this campaign. She does not come across as one that earns it.

And here, we have Hillary Clinton calling those not voting for her a “Basket of Deplorables”, which does not help her image one bit.

The failures of Hillary’s 2016 communication team could go on and on, and others have noticed the failures of this team as well.

In the end, candidates must always be conscience of their communication. How one presents oneself is a big part of demonstrating fitness for office. Creating and carrying out campaign communication plans is an important part of any campaign, and a full-time job in itself. Organizing a good communication team can help candidates keep that watchful eye on their campaigns. And, with a trained team working on and implementing the communication strategy for the campaign, the candidate can be left to doing what candidates do- campaign.

Measuring Your Campaign’s Success

One of the things I am frequently asked is how to measure campaign success. And, each time, my answer is the same. In order to measure your campaign success, you need to first create campaign goals for the team to work towards. Goals are the steps you take to achieve your vision, and your vision is the larger picture of what your campaign hopes to achieve. By successfully reaching your goals, you know you are taking the steps necessary to achieve your vision. But, how do goals help you achieve your campaign vision? That’s what this blog hopes to explore.

Goals are Specific

First, goals are specific. Arbitrary goals do not benefit the team and tend to lead to uncertainty. You want to give the team a specific and defined goal for them to work towards, and ambiguity leaves room for interpretation, which opens the interpretation up for miscommunication and questions. Being specific about the goals explains exactly what the goals are and what the campaign hopes to achieve. For example, I have had campaign managers tell me that it is the campaign’s goal to “increase support”. What type of support were they talking about? Are we talking financial support? Support for campaign messaging? Volunteer support? What type of support are we looking for? For the campaign’s communication team alone, this goal is too arbitrary, considering each one of those “types” involves a different audience. But, when the campaign goal is specific, the team knows where to cater their energy. If the campaign goal is to “increase campaign messaging support”, the team knows which direction to go in to further the chances of reaching the goal.

Goals are Measurable

Second, goals are measurable. If the goal is not measurable then the goal is not achievable because you have failed to define at what point the goal is achieved. Measurable goals tell the team not only where they are going, but also how much further they must go before achieving that specific goal. For example, if a campaign wants to increase campaign messaging support the measure could be set at something like “we hope to increase campaign messaging support by 10%”. This 10% could then be measured through a pre-test/post-test design using a Likert-Type Scale to measure attitudes. These types of measures can tell the team by how much they succeeded or failed to meet the objective, which provides measures and data for the achievement of the goals.

Goals are Attainable

Third, goals are attainable. This means that they can be reached. Goals define how to not only reach the vision, but also how to reach the goal. If the goal is unattainable, it is pointless, and a waste of energy trying to pursue. Since campaigns are primarily staffed by volunteers it is important to give them relevant goals, so they have a sense of achievement to drive them to donate time and resources to your campaign. For example, it would seem a bit unachievable to increase your campaign messaging support by 300 million people within the term of your campaign. This is simply not achievable. People will join your cause because it sounds amazing, but if you do not begin to achieve this people will start to fall off the bandwagon. But, increasing your messaging support by 10% is usually achievable, and you can show people the results of their success once they achieve it. This should drive them to go on to achieve the next goal and take the steps to help the campaign achieve its vision.

Goals are Relevant

Fourth, goals are relevant to achieving the campaign’s vision and can be used as markers to see how far you have come to achieving that vision. Every goal achieved is one step further towards reaching the vision. The more goals achieved, the more proof the campaign has of success. Therefore, a campaign can measure its success through the number of goals the campaign has worked to achieve. For example, if your vision is to “increase support for the Libertarian Party”, then increasing support for campaign messaging and running as a Libertarian, you are increasing support for the Libertarian Party as well.

Goals are Time-Bound

Finally, goals are time-bound. They give an end time at which to measure their success or failure. For example, the campaign team working to try and increase the support of campaign messaging can set a time at which they will distribute the post-test to discover whether support for their messaging increased by the desired amount. They can then go through, interpret what helped them and what hindered them in achieving their goals, and can alter their strategy accordingly.

So What?

In the end, setting campaign goals are a great way to measure campaign success. It gives the team something to work towards by not only defining what needs to be done and how, but what is expected and by when. Campaign goals help the team achieve the campaign vision, and that campaign vision gives a unified end where everyone knows their role when it comes to achieving campaign success.

Building the Campaign Team

Building a campaign team is more than just filling campaign roles and sending people on their way with their own individual responsibilities. Building the campaign team involves getting the various positions to work together as a team. When everyone on the campaign knows their responsibilities and proceed to work together for the purpose of reaching a common goal, the candidate is free to do what the candidate is supposed to do- campaign. Due to the importance of team formation it is crucial to discuss the stages of team formation when it comes to building a strong campaign team. Researchers have found four different stages of team building. This blog will discuss these four stages and apply those stages to the formation of the campaign team.

Stage I: Formation

The first stage teams usually experience when coming together is known as the “forming” stage. During this stage the individuals that will make up the team take the time to get to know one other. The members are usually positive and curious, but there are also high levels of uncertainty present. It is during this stage that the members begin to learn not only their own individual roles and responsibilities, but also the roles and responsibilities of others.

Whereas being “positive” and “curious” tend to be positive traits for team formation, “uncertainty” tends to lead to a lack-of-productivity in teams. When individual team members are uncertain of their roles (much less other’s roles) within the team, they are unsure of what to do next. This leads to members of the group waiting for instruction and sitting around waiting for instruction is not something which benefits a campaign. Therefore, it is important that the campaign be organized. Having an organizational chart, for example, can offer a visual, tangible artifact for members of the team to refer to so they can not only learn about their roles and responsibilities when it comes to the campaign, but also where they fall in the whole of the team.

Sample Organizational Chart

Name
Campaign Manager
Description of Duties:

 

Name Name Name Name Name
Fundraiser Treasurer Press Secretary Position Position
Description of

Duties…

Description of

Duties…

Description of Duties… Description of Duties… Description of Duties…

At the first meeting the campaign manager should present to the group something similar to the above chart. When it come to team formation the campaign manager is responsible (in the chart above) for forming the team immediately below them. Therefore, everyone on the team (in the chart above the fundraiser, treasurer, and press secretary), for example, should know that if they have issues, they should report to the campaign manager. This will also give volunteers under each a direct line of who they contact regarding what issues. By giving the members of the team a standard chart, they can refer to at any time can help reduce that uncertainty that is present during the team formation stage and will help the team familiarize themselves with one another. Beware though. With familiarity comes contempt because members of the team will start becoming familiar with the little annoying ticks of other team members, and these usually become a (temporary) problem.

Stage II: Storming

Hopefully this is not the stage your group finds themselves in when they first form the team. This stage is usually the outcome becoming familiar enough with one another that they learn the annoying little truths of one another. Maybe the fundraiser is bad at math, so the treasurer gets annoyed constantly with the fundraiser. Or maybe the press secretary tends to talk a bunch and the office manager finds this obnoxious. Everyone has something that annoys another person. It is important though that members of the team learn to work through theses issues and realize the value everyone brings to the team.

It is the role of the campaign manager at this point to continually remind the members of the team where they fit in the grand scheme of things. Maybe the fundraiser is bad at math but has a talent when it comes to getting people to donate. Or maybe the press secretary talks a bunch because it is their job to do all the talking for the campaign? It is important then for the campaign manager to remind the treasurer that it is the role of the fundraiser to get people to donate and talk about how good they are at that. Or, maybe remind the office manager of how much press the candidate is receiving due to the outgoingness of the press secretary.

Whatever the individual role is, the campaign manager can help the team move through this stage with minimal damage. Reminding each member of the positive contributions of the other team members will not only help create a more positive atmosphere when it comes to the team valuing one another, but it will also reinforce the organization mentioned in the “forming” stage. As with formation, continued emphasis on organization is important when it comes to helping the team proceed through these stages.

Stage III: Norming

At this stage the group has begun to work through their issues with one another and start to focus on their own roles and responsibilities within the campaign. Everything seems to be going smoothly and the team members have begun to work together as a unit. During this stage, however, it is important to ensure that members do not feel intimidated by other members into silence. If team members feel it is more important to avoid conflict than it is to share what they view as controversial ideas, group productivity can deteriorate.

Keeping this in mind it is the role of the campaign manager during this stage to help ensure the calm continues, but to also focus on dealing with conflict in a timely manner so it does not begin to grow throughout the team. Continuing the focus on the common goal that drives the group is important. For example, bringing a continued focus to “how we’re succeeding” will demonstrate to the team that their efforts are not being wasted, and reinforce the idea that their energy and attention is being spent well.

Stage IV: Performing

If your campaign team makes it to this stage CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve made it. The team is finally working together as a successful unit to obtain a unified goal. While there may be disagreement, the team will work their way through this disagreement in a unified attempt to achieve their unified goal. Things tend to work smoothly at this point, and the campaign manager can start focusing more on strategy than guiding their team through the various stages of team formation. Their team can function now on their own, as a team, with minimal coaching.

Stage V: Adjourning

While it is important to note that there can be an adjourning/leaving stage of team building, this comes after the team is built and the goal achieved/came to a standstill.

In the end, it is crucial for the campaign manager to help guide the campaign team through the various stages of team building so the team can be the most efficient team they can be. Good organization and clear goals are great ways to help the team reach its unified goal. If the members of the team each know their individual responsibilities within the team, and where they fit in with the team, the team is more likely to function as a unit. Having a good campaign team is there to support the candidate. The candidate is the product. It is up to the campaign to sell that product. An ineffective campaign team leaves the candidate less time to get out there and do their job… meeting the public.