During the initial planning for your run for office, you need to understand who you are, what your core campaign values are, who your opponent is, and what sets you apart from your opponent or opponents. You will also need to start thinking about ordering campaign products from sites like RunandWin.
Why Are You Running?
You should have a clear definition of why you are running for office. At this point, it will be a simple reason. Later in the campaign, you need to define your top 4 issues of why a person should vote for you. However in the early stages, you will need just a simple explanation of why you are willing to take the time and effort to run for office.
Many candidates running for office against an incumbent may point out that they are better suited for the job due to their experience, and refer to the poor leadership of the incumbent. It may very well be the case that the candidate is more experienced, but that is not enough to motivate a voter to vote out an incumbent. The motivation it takes to oust an incumbent must be defined. For example, the reason a person is running for office to oust an incumbent could be because the incumbent is too connected with developers in the area and not voting on behalf of the voters. Each candidate in each race will have a different reason for running for office.
Determine A Theme
A clear definition of why a candidate is running for office will help shape the theme of the campaign. A theme is a constant and consistent message that a campaign communicates throughout the entire campaign to win the support of voters. The theme will be something that the voters find important to solving their preexisting concerns about the community or can relate to in a way that makes them feel comfortable with putting a particular candidate in position to make decisions on their behalf. A candidate’s theme outlines the difference between the candidate and his/her opponent.
Some examples of themes:
- Experienced Leadership that Works.
- Honest Conservative Leadership.
- The Choice for Honesty and Integrity.
- The People’s Voice.
The theme is to be communicated at all opportunities. The campaign theme should appear in all mail pieces and handouts and potentially on signs. By Election Day, voters should associate the candidate with the theme. Slogan ideas can be found at WinYourCampaign.
Identify Key Issues
After you have detailed your biographical information, you are able to make critical decisions on issues that will affect your campaign. The critical decisions are the basis for core campaign values that you want to express on your campaign materials. This is the time to incorporate your close friends and family in the discussion. These issues are big picture items that should be discussed early in the process because the answers and decisions will strongly influence the direction of your campaign. Taking the time now to decide these issues will prevent you from derailing your campaign later.
The following are some of the issues that should be considered:
- What is your position on any controversial issues facing the area? e.g. a wastewater treatment facility, growth, a new industry, etc.
- How reliable are your volunteers?
- What are your limitations on contributions?
- How many hours will I dedicate to running?
- How will you utilize your family for the campaign?
- What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
- What are your opponent’s strengths? His/her weaknesses?
- For major decisions, who will be included in the process?
- Which endorsements will be sought? Which avoided?