Writing Your Campaign Plan:The Seven Components of Winning an Election , by R. Fauchex

Your campaign plan is your road map to victory , It is the starting point . Writing a comprehensive plan forces campaign managers and strategists to think through their options .It imposes a sense of order on a process that otherwise can be chaotic and totally inefficient .

A political campaign should not be a merely series of events and activities Haphazardly sequenced and arbitrarily timed .It should be rolled out with clear purpose as part of a logical plan .

Over the years , political campaigns have become increasingly professional , specialized and complex operations . You should no more attempt to launch a campaign without a clear , written plan than you would launch construction of an office without architectural and engineering plans .

Approaching the complications of most campaigns is a daunting task for candidates , managers , and staff . To do it , you have to break the whole operation down into separate , understandable , manageable components . As the old saying goes ; you eat an elephant , no matter how large , one piece at a time .

 A good campaign plan for any political race- large or small - needs to incorporate the following components .

1- STRATEGY.

Strategy is how you position your candidacy and allocate your resources to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses . It is a concept . It is a way to win .

No one can determine the right strategy for any campaign - political or military _ without knowing the political context , the players , the issues , the terrain and the resources available . These factors make each campaign unique . One size does not fit all . Unfortunately , there are no magic wands and no certain results in this business .

Your campaign strategy needs to address the following questions :

- What is your message ?. The essence of political strategy is to concentrate your greatest strength against the point of your opponent weakness . This is done through positioning , which is the development and delivery of messages that present voters with a choice based on candidate differences that are clear , believable , and connected to reality .

 Campaign messages may be based on ,a- the candidate personal strengths and weaknesses ( experience , competence , integrity , compassion , stability , preparation , etc .), b- ideological and partisan differences ( liberal  vs conservative , moderate vs extreme , inconsistent vs consistent , pragmatic vs purist , etc.) ,c- the situational, context  (changes vs status quo , right track vs wrong track , reform vs old way ,etc.) or ,d- a combination of any of the above .

- How will you roll your message?

Because a campaign message positions your candidacy relative to your opposition . it will often include positive components ( about your candidacy ) and negative or comparative components  (about your opposition ). Consequently , campaigns need to plan the sequence by which they will roll out the positive components (including credibility -building and innoculation points ) and negative components ( including contrast and attack points ) of their messages .

- How will you time your campaign activities and when will you expend your resources ?. Timing calls are the toughest decisions your campaign will have to make .While your opposition is rapidly depleting their resources and taking risks , will you move slowly but surely with activities timed to peak on Election Day ?. Or will you open your campaign big and loud , then coast for a while with a low level of activities , and then close big and loud ?.Will you try to catch your opponent asleep and drop all yours bombs at the end when it's too late for the opposition to mobilize and respond in a timely fashion ?.Or will you hold your fire so that you deploy your resources at the moment of maximum efficiency and effectiveness? .

- How much of your resources  will you allocate to persuading undecided voters versus mobilizing your base of existing supporters?. There are only two kinds of campaign activity : persuasion or mobilization .

You are either persuading voters to vote for your candidate or you are organizing and mobilizing those who already support your cause .

Most campaigns either start with a voter base or they go about creating a voter base fron scratch .Then , they identify undecided or "swing " voters and try to persuade them to joint their team .On Election Day , your entire base , including the voters persuaded and identified along the way , are mobilized to turn out and vote .

- Are there any strategic opportunities you can exploit or barriers you need to overcome ?. Is there a trap you can set for your opposition by getting them into a position they cannot escape ? Can you bait your opposition to do something ( go on TV , discuss an issue , spend money , etc.) that will cause unintentional , inadvertent harm to them ? .Should you inoculate yourself against potential weakness before they register in the public mind ?, Can you benefit from a technological advantage ? ,Can you build a firewall  of impenetrable support ?,can you stay above the fray while your opponents are fighting one another ? , Can you divide and conquer rivals ?. 

 

2- BUDGET .

Your campaign budget should be in two parts :a line item listing of how much money you will spend by category ; and a timeline indicating when you will spend what . it is important to know when you will need the money so you can structure a realistic fund-raising plan .Before you prepare your budget , you need to do the following :(a) Realistically estimate how much money you will be able to raise ; (b) Have your message , message sequence , timing and intensity , and persuasion/ mobilization strategies already worked out . Your budget will flow from these strategies , not the other way around .

3- FUND RAISING

The finance plan and strategy need to be given as much attention as your political plan and strategy .How will you go about identifying and cultivating money sources in a comprehensive way ? , How much time will the candidate spend on raising money ?, How will you use direct mail .telephones ,the internet and tickets events ?, who will be on the fund-raising committee and what will be their goals ?, Will you hire full-time fund-raising staff and/ or part-time fund raising consultants ? ,How will the database of prospective givers be set up ?

4-TARGETING

Elections are won by building coalitions of voter groups that make political sense given a specific campaign message , strategy and context . In a campaign , you go where the votes are . More precisely ,  , you go after the votes you need to win , the ones that are most readily available to you , and use messages with each group that touch these voters most deeply .

Targeting is the method a campaign uses to determine where it's going to concentrate direct contact resources (mailings , telephone -callas .door-to-door canvassing , yard sign efforts , candidate campaigning , neighborhood parties . Election day turn out operations ) . Most campaigns have a limited amount time , money and volunteers. So they need to make sure that when the trigger is pulled on a campaign activity - whether it's mailing , a round of persuasion calling or get -out-the-vote (GOTV) door hanger effort - they reach the right voters with the right messages .

5 PAID MEDIA 

This section describes what advertising tools your campaign will emply , how , and when . Will you use television ads ? radio ads ? Newspaper ads ? The Internet ?.

The media plan should tie together the issue points you develop as part of your strategy together with budgeted activities to fire these targeted messages (through direct mail , phone canvasses ,radios ads , cable programs , Web site ,etc.)

6- EARNED MEDIA 

This section of your campaign plan presents how you will seek press coverage for your campaign and what strategies and messages you will employ through the news media .It should also discuss newspaper endorsement and proactive press events that can be coordinated with paid and efforts . For example , you may want to combine regional TV news , radio talk show and newspaper interviews along with a bus caravan that's been reinforced by paid radio and newspaper ads . 

7- ORGANIZATION 

Your organization should be as simple and realistic as possible . Your organizational chart should include ;

Professional Consultants . There are three functions in campaigns that  should be handled by professional ; Research ; Communications , and planing and strategy .They each require technical expertise that most candidates do not possess .

1-Research . Typically, the most important research function - public opinion surveying- is handled by a polling firm .When you hire a pollster , make sure you get a firm that has a solid track  record in competitive political campaigns .Do not trust this function to an inexperienced graduate student or college professor who wants to use you as a guinea pig  to break into business .

In larger races , you will also need to hire issue and opposition research personnel . This research , together with survey data , provides information on which to base your substantive messages .

2- Communications . (paid and earned media ). Your media consultant serves as your advertising and public relations agency . Though capabilities vary , most good consultants provide strategy advice as well as produce and place ads .Some are highly experienced in politics and will assume the role of chief strategist .

Media consultants with limited political experience , such as a local advertising or PR agency that makes ads primarily for groceries stores and car dealers , should be limited to technical or creative tasks such as designing logos and signs or taping and editing TV spots . It's better to hire a media consultant with a strong political background.

 The communications function includes paid media (tv, Radio ,Billboard, Newspaper ,Internet ads )and earned media ( press relations ). In smaller races , media consultants may also serve as de facto press secretaries .In larger campaigns , a full time press secretary should be employed .

3- Planning and Strategy . General Consultants or campaign managers are often hire to serve as chief strategist , spinners and planners .They may be experienced pros who have advised campaigns across the nation or they may be local operatives with deep knowledge of the local terrain .Availability and budget will determine who you hire and what role they will play . In many races , the pollster , media consultant or the campaign manager will assume the strategy function , eliminating the need for a separate general consultant .

In addition to general consultants , pollsters and media consultants , specialized consultants may also be needed for:Fund Raising ; Direct Mail ; telephone Contact ; Web sites ; Database ; Remember this distinction;Consultants works for multiple clients and devote a portion of their time to your campaign . They are paid fees , retainers or commissions . Full- time campaign staff -salaried or volunteers - have only one campaign to focus on .  

Candidate Personal Staff .This includes a personal assistant , scheduler and at least one person to handle the candidate's correspondence and thank-you notes .

Administrative .

Campaign Manager . This is the person who runs the entire campaign operation , activates strategy , oversees staff and coordinates consultants .

Volunteer Program Coordinators .

Field and Grass-Roots Organization .

Advance and Travel Coordination

Data base Management 

Press Secretary 

Communication Director 

Accounting/Compliance /Legal

Coalition Outreach

Fund-Raising .