Campaign Leadership Team

Let’s say you just decided to run for public office.  Congratulations, you just took the first step to the road to becoming a candidate!  Now you need to find a GOOD campaign treasurer.  I covered the basics of searching for a “A Good Campaign Treasurer” So I will do a brief recap, but if you’d like to read in more detail click here.

Responsibilities of a Treasurer

  • Sign and file all committee reports and statements;
  • Deposit receipts in the committee’s designated bank within 10 days of receipt;
  • Authorize expenditures or appoint someone else (orally or in writing) to authorize expenditures;
  • Monitor contributions, ensuring they comply with legal limits and prohibitions;
  • Keep records of receipts and disbursements for three years from the filing date of the report to which they relate.

Now you need a Campaign Team

You will want to have a campaign manager, volunteer coordinator, digital manager and fundraiser.  In many smaller campaigns many of the duties of volunteer, fundraiser, and digital manager will fall to the campaign manager.

Basic Structure Should look like for Statewide, Congressional or County-wide race)

Organization chart for a large statewide or county-wide or congressional campaign

As you see in the campaign organization chart above, we have a campaign treasurer, campaign chairman, candidate’s best friend, and campaign manager.  It is very important to note your campaign chairman isn’t your campaign manager.  The roles are quite different.

 Basic Structure Should look like  for State House or State Senate or County Council

As you see in the chart above, a much smaller team and many responsibilities are shared with the Campaign Manager, Chairman, Candidate’s best friend.  However, the Treasurer should be responsible for doing the job of Treasurer.   Which is filing the reports on time.

Campaign Chairman’s Role

For the position of campaign chairperson, it’s best to identify someone who is well-known, respected and has deep ties to the community. While their tasks will vary based on your campaign and the capacity of each person, some typical campaign chairperson responsibilities are to identify endorsements and high-level fundraising targets and offer their general feedback on strategy and the campaign plan. Ideally, your campaign chairperson would be someone who has the means to give a maximum donation to your campaign and could call 10 or so people themselves who could also give your campaign a maximum donation.

Campaign Manager’s Role

Your campaign manager is the person who manages the day-to-day operation of the campaign.  The communications or press secretary, scheduler, digital/data manager, volunteer coordinator, field people, and political folks report to the campaign manager.  Sometimes the fundraiser will report to campaign manager; however, the fundraiser typically works closely with the candidate and campaign chairman.

Candidate’s Best Friend

This is a very unique role, this person’s job is to keep the candidate grounded in reality, and that means speaking his or her mind and telling it like it is.  This is a person who will pull you aside and say you are about to make a boneheaded decision.

Communication/Press Secretary 

The purpose of a press/communications secretary is to handle requests from newspaper, radio and television sources, to draft press releases or to write guest columns and speeches, and to organize events such as press conferences. In a political environment, this person would follow the direction provided by the incumbent or candidate that they represent. In a business environment, they would typically report directly to the President of the company or to the leader of the marketing department.

Note:  In many larger campaigns these are two separate roles.

Digital Director

Your digital director will work closely with many of your other senior staff that handles the press, fundraising, and communications.  The digital director should be responsible for your campaign websites and digital presence; however, the content will be the responsibility of communications.  It’s important that nothing is made public without the blessing of the communications/press secretary.  The digital director will also manage the data coming into the campaign from the website, social media campaigns, and so on.

Social Media

The social media director plans and executes strategies and tactics for reaching target audiences over social media platforms. On some campaigns, the social media function falls within the communications department, but it can often be a consultant role or a senior function that reports directly to the campaign manager.

 

Volunteer Coordinator

This person will organize and manage a growing list of campaign volunteers. This position involves a great deal of contact with other people, so the volunteer coordinator must have excellent interpersonal communication and management skills.

Field Director

Primary responsibilities of the field director should include working with endorsed candidates of the same party, developing a field plan based on data and research, creating a team to execute decisions, and establishing open communication with voters. As a field director, the person will manage outreach and direct canvassing goals. The duties require coordination with local communities, reviewing and retaining volunteers, organize fundraising, educate everyone involved on the approved political message, and manage budgets and staff to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. A field director can work at any level of government campaigns.  In addition, this person works with other field directors in coordinating polls strategies for coverage for early voting and election day.

Political

Does research to help develop and shape the candidate’s public policy agenda. The policy advisor reports to the campaign manager, and may also work with the speech writer or communications director to craft messages for the campaign.

Note: Most of the smaller campaigns like state legislature, municipal elections, will have one or two people wearing multiple hats.

Here are a few questions to ask your potential campaign manager, or any campaign staff, paid or not.

  • Is this person dedicated to your vision?
  • Is he or she a team player?
  • Is he or she organized?
  • Can this person multi-task?
  • How is their written communication?
  • Can he or she work under pressure?
  • Are they willing to be the first one in the office and the last one to leave?
  • Does he or she get along with the rest of your leadership team?
  • Can he or she lead others? (your campaign manager will have several subordinates)
  • What is his or her temperament? Can this person work under pressure?

Red Flags to Look Out For

  • Lack of Eye Contact – When candidates can’t maintain eye contact and consistently look down, it can indicate confidence issues, which could mean they won’t be able to drive processes or they have something to hide.
  • Gossiping about former campaigns and managers – This is self-explanatory
  • Arriving Late – Lack of commitment and organization, if this person can’t be on time, how can he make sure you get to your engagements on time?
  • Poor Listening Skills – If an applicant asks repetitive questions, replies with answers that are unrelated to the questions or appears lost during conversations, he/she may not have a genuine interest in the role or know how to show respect for other peoples’ time.
  • Missing the Interview – Rescheduled or missed interviews mean that the person may be unreliable and disorganized.
  • Using the word “like” too much – This is unprofessional and, if hired, could make the individual – and the entire campaign – appear less credible.
  • Background check issues – Discovering multiple small issues with candidates, such as poor driving records or unsavory comments from former co-workers, calls their credibility into question. You are running for office; your campaign staffer can’t become the story.
  • Inappropriate language – Since this person will be representing you, someone who uses abusive language would demonstrate a lack of respect that will have a negative impact on you and your campaign.
  • Bragging – Talking about themselves and/or bragging about their accomplishments would indicate that the person is NOT a team player.
  • Unprofessional appearance – Since this person will be building an image for you as a candidate, the last thing you want is a slob, who would make you look like a joke.

Note: You need to ask the same questions of these applicants, and make sure they all meet the same criteria. It is very important that your team gets along, since you don’t want to portray a unified front to the public. Divisive situations in leadership teams can easily translate to losing the campaign.  Remember, these peoples’ jobs are to make you look good, by making themselves look good.

Once your team is in place, do not make the mistake of micro-managing him or her. Put faith in your campaign manager. Also, don’t take sides in arguments between him and people under him. Trust me on this one: both parties will put their spins into the mix.  Let the campaign manager be the bad guy.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to put faith in your leadership team. With that said, if you sense something is wrong, most likely it is, so don’t be afraid to fire your campaign manager and get a replacement. Also, don’t be afraid to tell your campaign manager that some of his team members aren’t rowing in the same direction, and he needs to make a change.

Remember that YOU are the team owner, and your campaign manager is the head coach.  Don’t be like Dan Snyder in year one and micromanage every aspect of the team.  With that said, you don’t want to be 100% laissez-faire.  You need to strike a balance.

And most importantly, have faith in your ability to hire the best talent for your campaign manager!

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