By Aaron Beytin
From a recent presentation about how to get ahead in the campaign world. Special shout out to Campaigns and Elections Magazine and their Reed Awards conference.
IT TAKES HARD WORK TO GO FROM A SMALL CAMPAIGN TO THE BIG LEAGUES
– Volunteer on campaigns to learn the ropes before you try to get a job. Don’t expect someone to pay you to learn the ropes. I volunteered for six years in high school and college before applying for my first political job.
– Get training. Seminars like Campaigns and Elections are a good start. Trainings run by your national party are essential. Democrats and Republicans have organizations set up just to train people in running campaigns – use them. You can even get a graduate degree in political management. It certainly helped me.
– Learn the basics about every part of a campaign.
Paid communications (TV, mail, digital, phones, etc.)
– Learn to write. Good political writing is clear, concise and persuasive.
– Get to know the players. If you want to run for office or get a top job on a national campaign you stand a much better chance if you impress the political staff at the party committees.
– Don’t be a shooting star. Shooting stars fizzle out quickly. If you’re a jerk, you’d better be brilliant. Avoid building yourself up by tearing others down. It’s not that jerks don’t succeed, but they have a very high flame out rate.
– But speak truth to power. You can’t be a wallflower either. Good campaign operatives and consultants speak the truth even when that truth is difficult to hear. There is a fine line between speaking up and being a jerk – it’s important to learn the difference.
– Deliver. If you have a job – do the hard work. Lots of people have grand ideas. Very few people actually follow through. If you’re not prepared for very long days, particularly when you’re starting out, don’t get into campaigns. If you follow through consistently you will be successful.
I’VE WORKED LOTS OF LOCAL RACES – ARE BIG RACES REALLY THAT DIFFERENT? Yes and no.
On national campaigns each person has a very specific roles
On national campaigns small mistakes are magnified
On national campaigns the ability to work as a team is much more important
All campaigns are about delivering a clear compelling message to voters as often as possible