Avoid a campaign that crashes on take-off. Put in the planning time up front to ensure success.
As a municipal candidate you are not going to receive automatic media attention when you file your nomination papers. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a media scrum outside of Vaughan City Hall on a Tuesday afternoon.
If you want buzz you need to create it – and trust me, you want buzz. No candidate likes working their ass off for three months only to run into their neighbour down the street and hear, “Oh, I didn’t know you were running for council.”
Here are 5 easy steps to complete BEFORE a successful campaign launch for City Councillor hopefuls:
1. Plan for an uphill battle
Countless studies show that people are not engaged in the election until the last days before the vote. You don’t have the luxury of waiting until then, so you have to drive your own engagement.
2. Use Your Network
Talk about your campaign with friends, neighbours and co-workers. Some will want to talk policy and some will want to talk about the colour of your lawn signs. Both conversations are equally important. Soak in all the feedback and take note of each person’s passion – we will use that later.
3. Develop Your 4 Point Plan
This is the political equivalent to your elevator pitch. We’ll discuss a successful 4 Point Plan another day, however it is a mix of why you’re running (see last post) and measurable goals. I don’t know why candidates launch a campaign without this. Imagine you luck out and someone from the local paper calls – you’ll sound pretty dumb without this in your back pocket.
4. Prep Work
A Chef doesn’t cut vegetables on the night of her new restaurant grand opening. She prepares what she can early so the plates get out fast and the night runs smoothly. A campaign launch is no different.
Set up your webpage, Facebook, Twitter and direct emails beforehand so you can flip it all on the day of your launch. If someone in the Clerk’s Office Googles you immediately after you file your papers, I want them to see the campaign-ready you.
5. Make a Splash!
You are not diving into the campaign headfirst, you are going for the ultimate cannonball. On the day of your launch, trigger your network to start sharing the news. Give them proper tools to do this (links to Twitter, Facebook and your webpage). Get to work forwarding out all the prepared emails to community leaders and media.
Have a campaign launch party. Everyone likes a party and the invites floating around socially help add to the buzz. Do something attention- grabbing, like sidewalk chalk graffiti in an intersection in your ward or a big sign on your lawn. Don’t overdo it by breaking laws, but a $20 sign by-law infraction may be worth it.
Follow these steps and in September you will not have to worry that your friend down the street took your competitor’s lawn sign because he didn’t know you were running.
Next up on your to-do list is a complete campaign plan. That will be your road-map to victory complete with campaign milestones, resources, responsibilities and budget.
If you’re thinking it’s too late I already filed my nomination papers, don’t worry. Create your own launch date 2 or 3 weeks from now. Oh, and if you have a campaign launch party, invite me!
PS. Candidates that are members of the City Campaigner team will have access to templates and information on automation techniques for the steps described. Membership details are coming soon – to get on the waiting list please contact me.