Looks Matter

In a recent blog I discussed the surfacing stage and a few things to expect throughout this stage of the political campaign process. And, late last year, I wrote a blog regarding the importance of considering source credibility during the campaign. In this blog I’m going to combine the two. As previously noted, one of the important functions of the surfacing stage is to “separate the serious contenders from the not so serious” (32). If you are not taken seriously, you are less likely to win. Things such as dressing well, being prepared, and exuding confidence, will only help you, and your campaign, on your way to achieving your goals.

One of the most important things to consider when running for office is how you dress. “How you dress yourself changes who you are. It changes the value of what you have to say. At least to the people who are looking and listening”. How you dress is important because clothing is considered the primary instrument in creating a positive first impression. “Studies show that first impressions are made within the first 17 seconds of meeting someone… [and] [f]ifty-five percent of that impression is based off first appearance”. Dressing well gives you the appearance of authority, and studies show that “[i]f you want to be taken more seriously… take a look at how authoritative you appear”. As a liberty minded candidate, however, you want to be sure you are not perceived as too authoritative. There is a fine line between “I know what I am talking about” authority and “I’m here to conquer the world authority”. Dressing well also helps you exude confidence, which is something I’m going to discuss later in this entry.

The video below demonstrates the importance of dressing well for an interview, and that is really all a political campaign is. You are interviewing for a job, and the voter are the ones that are going to determine whether you are going to get it.

As stated above, it is important to balance your visual authority, because as Hillary Clinton learned in the 2016 Presidential elections, what you wear will be used against you in the court of public opinion. And, the higher the office, the more true this is.

Something you as a candidate can do to try and help with these first impressions is to consider the audience you are trying to influence (and this will be a continuous theme throughout this blog). It is important that you consider what your audience’s expectations are, and to make sure you work within the confines of those expectations. Think about your message, and what your outfit is conveying as well.

For example, Americans (and Texans) love the symbolic trappings of office. They love seeing their flags, and their country’s symbols. So, when running for office, consider the trappings of your office. If you are running for a federal office makes sure that you are surrounded by American flags. A great example of this is when Obama failed to wear something as simple as an American flag pen resulting in political backlash. So, when dressing yourself for public appearance, consider those important trappings of office.

One of the first questions I was asked by a candidate when it came to how he presented himself was “how do I become a better speaker?” I went and looked at a few of his videos and he only had one problem, and it is possibly one of the most common problems presenters have. In these videos he seemed nervous as though he was unsure of what to say. So, my advice to him? Be more prepared. Although this advice seems rather simple, it seems he took it to heart. I have had many comments from people talking about how he seemed like he was a “different person” from the first time they met him to watching him on stage giving a presentation later. So, another way to increase your credibility with the audience, and as a result be taken more seriously as a candidate? Be prepared.

Taking the extra time to prepare yourself for speaking situations will help you appear more confident because you know what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to respond. And, as I will go over in a few paragraphs, appearing confident will help you be taken more seriously as a candidate. Being prepared also helps you enhance your critical thinking skills, resulting in you being less likely to find yourself in an embarrassing situation. And, being prepared also helps you project a certain level of authority on a subject/in a situation as well.

As with any communication situation, the first thing you should do in your preparation is to analyze your audience. Will your communication be something that will be received positively? Or will there be backlash? Think about possible questions the audience might have and rehearse answers to those questions. And, the most important thing about being prepared is to make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare.

In this blog I have repeatedly highlighted the importance of being confident when it comes to being perceived as a serious candidate. “Generally, successful candidates will be perceived as trustworthy, intelligent, or competent enough to do the job” (26). Having low confidence “makes us doubt our abilities and judgment and prevent us from taking calculated risks, setting ambitious goals and working on them”. Lacking confidence will affect your ability to speak and communicate well, and as a candidate for political office, you don’t have the time to waste your first impressions.

A great example in history of a politician not being taken seriously due to his perceived lack of confidence is King George “the Stuttering King”. King George was not supposed to be king, yet, after his brother abdicated the throne shortly after their father’s death, he found himself crowned. A world war was on the horizon, and the enemies made fun of him constantly for his stutter. This stutter not only was a perceived weakness of his by his enemies, but also by his people. However, after much preparation, he spoke to his people, lacking a stutter. His confidence showed his people that he had changed since in office, and that he could overcome to achieve success.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opkMyKGx7TQ

As King George’s speech shows us, one of the best things you can do to be perceived as confident is to be prepared. A lot of preparation went into that speech. And, the given the results, that preparation paid off. A second good thing to remember is your body language matters, and how your present yourself is another key to being taken seriously.

If you want to be taken seriously as a candidate by the electorate, it is important that you consider what they expect of you in that role, versus what you think the role is. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with a very limited audience. And, that is no way to win campaigns. Looking the part lets the audience know that you are a serious contender, and that you plan on giving it what you’ve got when it comes to a campaign run. Notice the major candidates, the winning candidates, are always well prepared and well groomed. These are the candidates that are winning. These are the candidate’s people are taking seriously. Consider your audience, and you are more likely to be taken seriously.

 

If you need help with your image, or if you want to better understand your campaign’s audience, contact us!

Press Releases (including link to free template)

An important part of any media kit is the press release.  To put it simply, a press release is “an official statement that gives information to newspapers, magazines, television news programs, and radio stations”. A press release is a particularly excellent tool for smaller campaigns that lack the funding of the major party campaigns, or for those campaigns that are not in the spotlight. Not only do press releases provide cost effective marketing strategies, but they are a useful tool when it comes to building your relationship with the media.

I have worked on campaigns in the past that have asked the communication team to just blindly send out press releases to blanket media lists. While sending your press release desperately out to whoever will listen might seem like a good way to gain potential readers, it does the opposite. Nothing will get your account flagged as spam quicker than spamming people’s emails. Therefore, before sending your press release, consider whether the audience of the source in question will be interested in the information provided within the release. If the readers would not be interested, more than likely, the publisher will not be interested.

There are many opportunities throughout your campaign to send out press releases. One of the best times to do this, and when you will probably get more coverage, is when you decide to formally announce you are running for office. People always seem to be interested in who is putting their hat in the ring, so news sources will usually send someone to cover the event. Another great time to send out a press release is when you are nominated through your party’s primary or convention process.

What to Include in Your Press Release?

Headline

A good headline will help your press release stand out in the plethora of other releases sources are receiving during the campaign season. Therefore, the headline is quite possibly the most important element of your press release. If you cannot find a way to get people interested in your information, then they’re going to be less likely to read it. And, if the reader is less likely to read it, the publisher is less likely to publish it.

One thing you can do to help ensure people get interested in your press release is to set the stage for the information in your press release by invoking emotion. For example, if you are writing a press release to signal the announcement of your candidacy, evoking excitement in the reader would produce interest in the reader to read on. If you get the reader to read on, you will probably see your release published as requested.

Since your headline is supposed to reflect the tone of your press release, and even though it is the first thing the readers will read, your headline should be the last thing you write. You will have a better idea for the tone of your press release after you have written the release, which usually makes it easier to write the headline.

Press Contact

Next, it is important you include your press contact’s information. Often in smaller campaigns this is the candidate. However, it is important to consider when forming your campaign team, the benefits of having a point of contact for the press. Having a designated press contact can provide multiple benefits to your campaign, including helping you stand out from the crowd of other third-party candidates seeking media attention.

When looking for a press contact, you want to be sure you find someone that is familiar enough with your campaign to answer questions about your campaign at a moment’s notice. Just allowing any of your volunteers to answer questions could lead to quite the crisis if one of them says the wrong thing.

And, considering things can go from good to complete crisis in a second in the current media world, it is important that your press contact is able to think fast on their feet. Not only do you want someone that is perfectly capable of answering questions at a moment’s notice, but you also want someone informed enough, and with it enough, to answer those questions competently at a moment notice, day or night.

Body

The first thing your first paragraph should start with should be the date and location of your event. Where and when are two of the most important things to include in your press release. Without this information, there really is no information. After you tell people where and when, you then go into who is being highlighted, or more details on what is happening and why that event is important. But, remember, the most important details should be in this first paragraph.

After this first paragraph a quote from the source is usually used. This quote is usually followed with any other information about the event you think would be important to the reader to know about his event.

Boilerplate Statement

Finally, you should include a boilerplate statement about your organization. A boilerplate is defined as “any written text that can be reused in new contexts or applications without being changed much from the original”.

If you are looking for places to start, one thing to include in your campaign’s boilerplate statement is factual data about the campaign. You can answer questions about the goals of the campaign, or even include your campaigns’ vision or purpose.

Click here for a free press release template by Microsoft.

 

 

 

How can Lone Star Campaigns Help?

Lone Star Campaigns can help you write press releases for your events and send them out to the journalists most likely to accept them, without having to pay for the cost of a full-time press secretary. Lone Star Campaigns can also serve as your campaign’s point of contact for the press without the need to hire a full-time communication director. If you have any questions, or want more information on our services, please contact us.

The Campaign Press Kit

Getting media coverage is one of the most important goals of a campaign. A great way to help foster this sort of attention for your campaign by creating, and updating, a “press kit” (often referred to as a “media kit”). A press kit can be virtual or physical and includes information about your campaign to help you promote your campaign to journalists. To put it simply, a press kit is a one-stop-shop for journalists interested in writing about you or your campaign.

One of the benefits of having a ready-made press kit is that it helps to explain your campaign so you don’t have to waste time talking about background information when you could be talking about -you-. Press kits also help to increase supporter, and media, confidence in your campaign helping to build campaign credibility. Journalists also tend to work more with candidates with ready-made press kits considering the press kit does most of the background work for them. Press kits are considered essential elements of a campaign. According to Forbes, if “you are lucky enough to get a journalist” to cover your campaign, “you want to make it as simple as possible for them to write about you without needing to dig for the right information”.

One of the first questions I was asked as a communication director on a campaign was “what goes into a press box?” So, I am going to use this time to answer that question. After reviewing over 20 articles on what should be included in a press kit, it seems these are the top mentioned items.

Background Information

Providing background information on your campaign is one of the most important items to include in your press kit. By providing this background information you are not only giving your audience the necessary background on your campaign, but you are also providing yourself, as a candidate, more opportunity to talk about your issues, rather than where you come from. Writing your background information can seem like a dauting task and you might be tempted to include as much information as you can. However, this is more than likely a mistake. Make sure you include the information that is relevant not only to your campaign, but to your audience. Providing background information also provides some form of context for your campaign and can assist in building your campaign narrative.

Biographies

Including biographies in your press is also a good way to save precious time when working the campaign trail. Again, it is important to make sure you only include relevant information that your media audience will find useful to writing about your campaign. You also want to make sure you seem competent in your biography, so include accomplishments or achievements that make you something worth covering.

Multi-Media

This was also one of the most emphasized items to include in your press box. Having a USB or DVD with videos of your interviews, or your positions on the issues, will help promote your message to your target audience. It will also provide clips for the media to use. Make sure you also provide high quality images, as this will help you to control the narrative around your campaign by giving them files to use, versus them having to come out and get them.

Contact Information

And last, but certainly not least, ALWAYS make sure to provide contact information for the person responsible for dealing with the press. It is also important for you to include links to your social media and websites as well.

By presenting a one-stop-shop, such as this where journalists can easily find all the information, they need to cover you, provides your campaign with countless benefits ranging from saving time to helping shape the campaign narrative. Providing this information may motivate journalists to cover you, seeing how you have done most of their homework for them.

 

 

LONE STAR CAMPAIGNS PRESS KITS

We can help you with the development of your press kit for a fraction of the cost of larger campaign consulting firms. Our skilled professionals can help write persuasive artifacts for your campaign’s press kit, and our creative design team can provide you with media for your campaign. We can also provide a point of contact between yourself and the media to help you schedule and obtain interviews.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. For more about our services, click here.

What am I doing? Surviving the Surfacing Stage of Political Campaigning

Welcome to the 2019/2020 Campaign Season! Yes. It is already campaign season again. We are seeing candidates and potential candidates emerge, people feeling the political waters to see if they should set sail. From my experience working with third-party political candidates it seems as though “what am I supposed to be doing right now” is one of the most asked questions. So that is what this blog will focus on today. Right now we are starting to emerge into what has been termed as the “pre-primary” or “surfacing” stage of political campaigning. During this stage the voters are getting to know more about your campaign, what you stand for, and what you represent. The surfacing stage has been considered a crucial period “because of the functions it provides“. During this stage your campaign should be busy doing things such as establishing media relations, creating your campaign narrative/issues, and demonstrating that you are an appropriate fit for that office. Candidates that announce late or that undervalue this stage of political campaigning have shown to “have little success and frequently do not even advance to the next stage“. Hiring a campaign consultant can help you better understand and map out what you need to do to be successful during this stage of campaigning, and the consultants at Lone Star Campaigns have a history of helping candidates with these important functions.

Establishing Media Relations

One of the most important things a campaign can do is to establish a relationship with the media. It is important for candidates to be visible, and the easiest way to do that is to get the attention of journalists. Doing this early will help your campaign develop relationships with local journalists helping you on your way to more visibility, as well as give you the opportunity to build or update your media contact list for later stages of campaigning. Having a good relationship with your local news agencies is an inexpensive way to help your campaign gain publicity. Luckily for third-party campaigns local journalists are constantly looking for stories, and having a local celebrity, such as a candidate, might provide them with just the story they need.

However, knowing which reporters and journalists to reach out to can be a struggle, and sending out mass emails can lead to your email having a higher chance of being marked as “SPAM” by journalists. Having access to an experienced campaign consultant can help you wade through the thousands of journalists and publications throughout the state of Texas.

The consultants at Lone Star Campaigns have a history of helping candidates receive media attention in even the most contested races. During the 2018 election I had the pleasure of working the communication director for Neal Dikeman, the Libertarian nominee for United States Senate against Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke. Even though the tension from this campaign made national news, and getting media attention for candidates outside that race in Texas even for the larger candidates was rare, the Libertarian Candidate Neal Dikeman was one of the most covered candidates in the state of Texas.

Determining Main Campaign Issues

Another important question to answer during this stage of the political campaign is “what is the dominant theme of my campaign?”. Having too many issues can cloud your message, and as such, it is important to limit your campaign to just a few key issues. During the 2018 election I saw quite a few third-party candidates that were generally all over the place (I am going to refrain from calling these candidates out, however). However, the candidates with limited, yet important, messages tended to have a better chance reaching voters during the election. A great example of this during the 2018 election was Matt Pina’s campaign for Land Commissioner. Even though he received only a small portion of the vote on a state-wide level, he has been able to take this momentum into his current run for Mayor of San Antonio.

If you are having trouble reaching your electorate, perhaps it is because your campaign message is not something the voters tend to care about. Having an outsider, such as a consultant, come in and offer a fresh perspective can help you shape your message in a way that will help reach the voters.

Both of the current consultants for Lone Star Campaigns are associated with the Libertarian Party of Hays County, and have worked hard to reach out to the community to help grow the support for the Libertarian candidates. The results of the last election may have shown the success of their hard work. Even though this past campaign season was highly contested, Hays County had a better-than-average support for Libertarian candidates.

Demonstrating Fitness for Office

To put it simple, voters do not want candidates that appear to be corrupt, incompetent, weak, liars, etc. I know I use this lady’s campaign frequently, but it is such a good example of “what not to do during a political campaign” that I can’t help myself. It’s really nothing personal. But, one of the main failures of the Hillary Clinton campaign to reach a wider audience was her image. It was reported that the words most associated with Hillary Clinton were “liar” and “corrupt“, and a post-mortem  analysis of the Hillary campaign found that her image of being “dishonest” and “corrupt” were two of the things that cost her the presidency.

As the candidate having a firm grasp on the image being presented to the audience is hard when you are juggling too many functions. Hiring a campaign consultant to help you alleviate this burden won’t only help you make better use of your time, but consultants offer an outsiders perspective of your campaign. Working with a consultant can help you demonstrate your fitness for office to the community in an efficient and affordable way.

The consultants at Lone Star Campaigns have a history of helping candidates create the image that they are a legitimate contender in the race for office. During the 2018 election for United State’s Senate, it was predicted by the Texas Tribune that Neal Dikeman could have an actual impact on the outcome in the race for U.S. Senate between Cruz and O’Rourke.

 

In the end, taking full advantage of the surfacing stage is important if you want to run a successful campaign and make it on to the next stage of the political game. Reaching out to the media, demonstrating that you are an acceptable fit for office, and determining your issues are all important functions to fulfill during this stage of political campaigning. Hiring a consultant can help you better organize and strategize for during this stage of the campaign process, and the consultants at Lone Star Campaigns have a history of producing results. Whatever you do, as a candidate, do not ignore or undervalue this stage. If you do you will be unlikely to see the next stages of the political campaign process.

 

The Power of Metaphor

In honor of the great Martin Luther King I thought I would take the opportunity to write about the power of metaphor as a rhetorical strategy. Martin Luther King was considered a “rhetorical genius“, and King’s most notorious “I Have a Dream” Speech “has taken its place among the pantheon of great an important American speeches“. In this speech “King’s use of figurative language makes it an excellent example of the effective use of metaphor“.


In his “I Have a Dream” speech “King’s use of figurative language makes it an excellent example of the effective use of metaphor“. Among the most used metaphors in his speech are those metaphors referencing nature. “Now is the time” says King “to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice“. Another example of King’s use of Metaphor in his “I Have a Dream” speech points to the metaphor of “food and drink”. “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred is a great example of King’s use of food and drink metaphor. A final example of King’s excellent use of  Metaphor to convey meaning and emotion to his communication attempt are metaphors associated with banking. He spoke of how America has “defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds””. It is through this strategic and expert use of metaphor that King was able to effectively build a shared meaning within his target audience. In other words, King’s use of metaphor made him a successful communicator.

The use of metaphor abounds in public address. In an evaluation of public speeches, Mio (2009) “found that speeches addressing the general public contained twice as many metaphors as those addressing more limited audiences“. Given the popularity regarding the use of metaphor it should not be surprising to know that researchers “… have focused on the necessity of communication in politics and have noted that metaphors have assisted politicians in communicating more effectively“. In other words, the use of metaphor in political communication situations help political speakers successfully create a shared understanding within their target audience.

The use of metaphor in political communication has been heavily associated with the outcome of persuasion. In a meta-analysis, Ottati & Renstrom (2010) found that “metaphor generally increases persuasion” and that it is “most effective when the message recipient is familiar with the communication topic or knowledgeable in the topic domain“. This finding is especially true when it comes to politics. Not only have metaphors found to be exceptionally persuasive rhetorical devices, but “metaphors can shape the way in which people apprehend and respond to a particular issue or event“. Needless to say, using metaphor in political communication situations is an exceptionally powerful weapon. The purpose of this blog is to briefly discuss various ways using metaphor in your campaign communication can benefit your campaign. Metaphors have a tendency to resonate with the members of the audience on an unconscious level, and as such they can provide an easy pathway to a shared understanding. However, with that ability to easily create a shared understanding also comes the ability to shape the way an audience interprets a certain communicative act.

First, metaphors are “effective because of their ability to resonate with latent symbolic representations residing at the unconscious level“. Since metaphors have the ability to connect with the audience on a familiar level, the members of the audience might not even realize they’re being brought into an understanding through the strategic use of metaphor. Often this unconscious impact “can become implicit and accepted as truth on an unconscious level“. In other words, because the metaphor makes the message familiar, this familiarity can be unconsciously accepted as truth without any true thought to the communication attempt.

Second, metaphors are effective because they help develop a cognitive bridge to understanding. When a message is deemed unfamiliar, or when “individuals do not have enough time and energy to fully survey the political horizon, they may rationally employ some cognitive heuristic to make the task more manageable“. Metaphors can help by bridging that heuristic gap. According to David Allbritton, metaphors offer “a framework for understanding a new domain or a restructuring of the understanding of a familiar domain“. Using a metaphor understood by the audience will lead to the audience being more familiar with your message, and thus far more likely to accept your message. When a political issue is not quite mentally accessible by the audience in some disorganized, direct form, a metaphor can be used to increase understanding and familiarity, providing the receiver with some feeling of relief with understanding what was originally perceived as a complicated message. “This feeling of pleasure undoubtedly leads the receiver to be persuaded by the metaphor because of its relative simplicity. In other words, the metaphor creates a feeling of enlightenment“.

However, since metaphors can be used to help an audience better understand a message, metaphors can also be strategically employed to frame the way the members of an audience feel about a message. Studies have shown that using metaphors in “symbolic politics stir emotions because they touch latent cognitive structures. When emotions are evoked, logic is circumvented“. In other words, metaphors can make one forget logic for the sake of emotional balance. Studies have also shown that metaphorical statements can also have an impact on attitudes towards the topic by affecting the way audience members perceive either the message or speaker. A study in 2010 found that “metaphorical statements can activate information that is directly applied to the communication topic” and that “metaphorical language may influence impressions of the communication source and thereby impact attitudes toward the communication topic“. In other words not only can the use of metaphor make one react emotionally rather than logically to a message, but the use of metaphor can also shape the way the speaker or message is perceived.

As shown, metaphors can affect people on an unconscious level. Not only does this lead to, at least a perceived, increased understanding of a political topic, but this use of metaphor can also shape individuals attitudes on the topic.

We see metaphors abound in our daily campaign rhetoric and these metaphors could easily be applied to any third party campaign. For example, when talking about the economy or market we frequently see Libertarians discuss how it’s “crashing”, or how we’re “kicking the can down the road“. There’s also the ever popular metaphorical association between “government” and “crime” by talking about how opponents are “thugs” or “goons”. Since metaphor has shown to have such a persuasive effect, the strategic use of metaphor could also help sneak past some of the audience’s watchful dragons to further the understanding and acceptance of liberty.

 

If you would like help with your campaign’s communication, or would like to understand how to strategically use metaphor to create your campaign narrative, contact the consultants at Lone Star Campaigns with your questions.

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.