The moment you publicly announce your candidacy, everything changes. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for the chaos that will follow. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, campaigns aren’t either. There will be ongoing work, changes, and adjustments, even if you’ve planned everything down to the last handshake. Things change and you learn how to deal with curveballs. It’s just part and parcel of running a campaign.
Despite this reality, planning is still essential to campaigning. Starting off strong and being prepared may be the head start you need to beat your opponent. Here are the tasks we recommend doing before announcing your run.
1. Build your team
Running a campaign is more work than any one person could possibly manage. Whether you’re running for U.S. Representative or school board, having a team in place that’s ready to work is central to winning. Before doing anything else, make sure you’ve got the essential players in place to help you manage everything to come. Your team will help you create a calendar of events and deadlines, build a budget, manage your social media, and everything else that comes with running for office.
2. Pick a date to announce your run
Once your campaign team is ready to go, pick a date to announce your campaign. To do this, you must already have a wealth of information backing up the decision. If you have an event scheduled on a certain date, then obviously you need to make sure the announcement can happen before then. Using your calendar and relevant deadlines to make this decision is the best way to avoid conflict and stress.
3. Develop your campaign brand
Even though you haven’t made your announcement yet, you’ll need to have a slew of marketing and advertising material ready to roll out once you do. Even when you make the announcement, whether in person or online, you’ll be using your marketing materials to do it. Don’t wait until the last minute before your announcement to work on this either. Brand recognition and strong marketing strategies can make or break a campaign. When voters see your campaign logo or social pages for the first time, you want to make sure they recognize it when they see it again. This means consistency is key; and consistency can be hard to achieve if you wait until the last minute to make these big decisions.
4. Decide what position you’ll take on the issues
Questions will start coming in the minute you announce, so make sure you know where you stand and how you’ll respond. First impressions are everything for some voters. If someone in the crowd asks you about your position on climate change or infrastructure and you look like a deer in the headlights, maybe you just lost their vote.
It may seem obvious, but voters will want to know where you stand on the issues they care about. You know this, but it’s easy to get caught up in picking logos, filing documents, or any of the other millions of duties you have! But never forget the reason you’re doing all this. Why are you running for office? Why should voters support you? What issues that matter to you, matter to them? Even if every other aspect of your campaign goes off the rails, this one cannot!
If you don’t want your campaign grounded before it even takes off, then you must lay a strong foundation that everything else can build upon. As you work your way through these tasks, remember: the more planning you do now, the better you’ll handle curveballs later.