Volunteers, staff, and supporters are often enthusiastic, but misguided. The campaign manager him or herself may be a trusted friend and supporter who knows nothing about how to run a campaign. Ditto for the candidate. Most campaigns, no matter how large, face a real shortage of the knowledge needed to run a successful campaign.
The truth, though, is that in order to win, campaigns must be run in a professional manner, drawing on the experiences of past campaigns, learning from their mistakes and duplicating their successes. Uninformed campaigns wonder why they need to target, aren’t sure how to organize the campaign, can’t figure out how to ask donors for contributions. Well-trained and professional campaigns, on the other hand, can spend less time wondering and more time working – doing the tasks that need to get done because the people who make up the campaign know how to do them.
Every campaign, from a race for the school board to a run for the White House, can benefit from holding one or more campaign schools to train their staff and organization and professionalize their effort.
What is a campaign school?
A campaign school is an organized training session, or sessions, designed to educate your team on professional campaign tactics. Campaign schools present detailed information on how to run campaigns designed to win.
There are several different varieties of campaign schools. Many party organizations, advocacy groups, PACs, even some for-profit companies offer campaign schools lasting from 2 hours up to two weeks to train targeted groups of candidates and operatives. Campaigns can and should run their own campaign schools, however, so that they can target the information presented to fill the most pressing needs of the campaign and strengthen the weak spots for that particular race. Schools put on by a campaign can last anywhere from two hours to a whole weekend, depending on your individual campaign needs and the level of political expertise of your group.
Viral Campaign Schools – Teaching the Teachers
If your organization is large, you have tons of volunteers, or you are planning a campaign school for a large party organization or advocacy group, you may want to hold a “Viral Campaign School.” In other words, you may want to hold a campaign school for your top folks, who then can go out and spread the knowledge (like a virus) to the rest of your organization by holding their own campaign schools.
For example, you could have your twenty precinct captains attend your campaign school. These precinct captains could then go back to their own districts and teach the knowledge they have gained to their own downline precinct organization. In this way, you can in fact have 21 campaign schools covering your entire district, while only holding one back at campaign HQ.
No matter how you plan to do it, hold a campaign school to teach your staff and volunteers the skills they need to win on Election Day. Need more information on how to do it? Winning Elections at the Grassroots (part of Local Victory’s Complete Guide to Getting Your Campaign Off the Ground Kit) has a complete chapter on how to run a political campaign school. Check it out!