What I Learned on The Campaign Trail

The experience of being a communication strategist on the campaign trail is a dream for those of us that enjoy politics. There are a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration in order to craft a successful communication strategy that lines up with the platform of the candidate and the best way to reach the constituents. Campaigning today is not what it used to be. The idea of shaking the most hands and kissing the most babies is good, but it is not a complete strategy.

Before one develops any type of communication strategy, the candidate must truly know where they stand on the issues that matter most to his/her community. Having a full and authentic understanding of what the candidate believes in will allow for the communication strategy to be built in a way that the messaging will not have to change drastically while on the campaign trail. Strong pivots in messaging tend to confuse potential voters. It also makes those that are on the fence uncertain if they can count on the candidate to be strong on the issues if the flounder to what seems to be the hot topic.

  1. A strong candidate needs a strong team. It was obvious to me that even as strong as a candidate may be, the team matters. The candidate needs to have people that can do the research and analyze the data in the background so that messaging is accurate and resonating with constituents. I may be biased, but besides fundraising, the Director of Communications may be one of the most important hires that a candidate will make. This individual will observe the campaign from a totally different perspective than anyone on the team. One must have someone that understands how to read the audience, develop a strategy on framing the message, and properly evaluate the candidate’s performance when delivering the message.
  2. One must understand the concerns of their voting community. Communication 101 is understanding your target audience. As a candidate runs for election, they must understand the top concerns of their constituency. It’s important not to be too far swayed by what those outside of the voting district may think, but to truly listen to what the residents are saying they need from their representative. It is hard to evaluate the voting population when a candidate is in a special election, but I have found that the quickest way to do this is to find out who the movers and shakers are in the community. Find out who the individuals are that touch a lot of people, meet with these individuals and learn from them all that you can about the community. Do not assume that you know all that there is to know about the residents of the community.
  3. It’s important to create Brand Ambassadors. Yes, Mr/Mrs Candidate you are now a brand. In making that distinction, it is important to understand how to spread the word about your brand. It is difficult to spend time with each and every voter in one’s district or voting population, but ambassadors will be able to speak up on your behalf if properly trained. Using social media strategically is another way that a campaign can find brand ambassadors. As much as one may push out content on social media, one can also see who is speaking up the most about them accurately. The campaign can offer volunteer training workshops, have a virtual training, and create social media toolkits for these ambassadors to use as they help you spread the word.
  4. Technology is an important tool to gather DATA. Accurate data collection is key to success. Hilary Clinton mentioned in her book, What Happened, that some of their data may not always have been accurate. She also mentioned that she leaned towards the old fashion way of campaigning (shaking hands and giving stump speeches to small crowds), but knew that she had to embrace this new era of what it takes to win an election. Reach out to other campaigns and see what type of technology they are using, conduct research on the latest tools that can be used to manage a campaign, and check back to our blog as this will be the focus of one of our next blog post.
  5. Meet people where they are. By this, we mean that you must understand where your constituents are, and this takes a deep level of knowledge on who makes up your voting constituency. If you have an older more mature constituency, then you may want to be heavier of meet-n-greets and email. If you have a young constituency, your social media and text messaging strategy will need to be strong and take the lead over the traditional modes of communication. Some may say that the volume of times that a constituent is reached out to may turn them off, but there isn’t data from a notable source to support this theory.

 

You don’t have to take our word for what to consider in your campaign communication strategy. Here are a few suggestions from others that have also lived on the inside of a campaign.

“Everyone, from constituents to party members, will tell you how things should be done if you want to win. Most will contradict each other. While you need to be open to advice (and actively seek help when you need it), the most difficult part of the job is knowing when to trust yourself and doing what needs to be done for your specific situation. Each candidate, campaign, voter demographics, District, and opponent are different. In the end, I relied heavily on scholarly research and my own intuition.”

Avery Murdie, Campaign Manager & PR Director for Deborah Gonzalez for GA House 117

 

“Field is how you will win or lose a campaign. Having the candidate do as much direct voter contact as possible will have a huge impact. The most effective method for direct voter contact is knocking on targeted doors, followed by phone calls and meet and greets along with other public appearances.

A universe of targeted voters must be built before any voter contact is done. All voters in the universe need to be contacted before GOTV to identify supporters for GOTV and eliminate others. Knowing who your voters are in all ways is critical. Understanding the demographics of the district will help you figure out the best communication methods for the campaign. For example: younger voters will respond more to Instagram versus email and older voters over 75 will appreciate a phone call or direct mail more.”

Leah Fuhr, Former Political Affairs Manager/Field Organizer for Jon Ossoff, Former Campaign Manager for Jen Jordan

 

“Watching for the activists who embody the spirit of our organization was key for me. I knew that if a journalist heard their stories, they would exemplify who we were and also boost the candidate we were supporting. Anyone who is inspired to volunteer so much time to get someone elected pulls at the emotions of the audience and makes someone take another look at that candidate.”

 

Jen Cox, Director of PR, PaveItBlue

Your life will forever be changed when you enter into the world of politics. You begin to understand how big of a role politics plays in the quality of life one leads. You also learn how important it is to have your communication strategy in line so that you can properly reach your constituents. You (the candidate) may have the best platform to run on, the biggest heart, and the best mindset to win your election, but if you do not communicate it in a way that reaches your voting audience…it is all for nothing.

Discipline = Success :: Especially for Women Owned Firms

Success can be defined in so many ways and the journey to obtain a certain level of success is subjective. One of the keys to success that I hear from many of those that have reached a high level of success is the fact that they have to remain disciplined in their daily routines. You will often hear people that are successful say that they do the same thing in their morning routines day in and day out. They may have coffee, workout, read the news on their preferred device, but it is the same routine day in and day out.

I have since learned that the reason for this is because when you implement something as simple as a morning routine, you now do not have to use ‘brain power’ (for lack of a better term) on something that really does not matter. Something like what you must do in the morning to get your day started is not as important as developing the strategy to grow your business or deciding the steps you need to take today to keep the country safe. In one of their final interviews as President and First Lady, First Lady Michelle Obama stated that President Obama has so many of the same exact suits, shoes, and accessories that he does not have to think about what he is putting on in the morning. He can at any time grab one of the suits and put it on and not have to deal with the minute detail of what he needs to wear for the day. As President, he also had to be conscious of the fact that he had to be politically correct in what he decided to wear.

I am someone that gets bored easily. A doctor may call it ADD, but my attention span is lost quickly. Doing the same routine day in and day out seems impossible to me. But, I am going to try to make it a habit for 1 month and see what it may change in my level of productivity. One of the first steps to creating this discipline in your own life is to make sure you are organized. Successful people tend to keep their home and office very neat. They do not have to spend time finding something because everything has a place. This is sometimes easier said than done when you work from home. Depending on how much space you have in your home will determine how organized you can truly be (in my opinion). When you must mix kids’ stuff with office stuff, you are in for a real challenge (unless you live in a large home). Hopefully, by getting as organized as you can, you can then obtain the level of success that will allow you to buy a home or office that will be spacious enough for all of your needs. Some of you already have plenty of space, but may need to throw out some items that you do not need (junk). Take this opportunity to give items away to the less fortunate. Someone else would find your junk to be their treasure.

When running a business of any size, if you cannot elevate your productivity, you will lose this ever-changing game of entrepreneurship. What is interesting to me is the variety of ways that people work to achieve the first 1 million dollars in revenue. This tells you beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no one right way to reach above average goals. I have listened to financially successful people state that it was a challenge making their first million, but once they got it down to a system, making the next million was not so hard.  From the outside of the million-dollar circle club, that seems to be a daunting task. But, if you are a student of success, one could glean some elements of similarities amongst peers that are making a million or more.

Traits of millionaires:

  1. Most millionaires are self-made. Meaning that they did not become a millionaire by working for someone else. According to BMO Private Bank in 2013 67% of millionaires in the US did not inherit their wealth. They found ways to acquire it.
  2. Millionaires are not afraid to take risk. Playing it safe does not land you in the wealthy category. Like CEO Elon Musk, with his company Tesla Motors, was told his concept would not work. He was continuously told that he was not going to be able to compete with the Detroit manufacturers. Today, he is proving his naysayers wrong and trending toward one of the biggest disruptions in the automotive industry.
  3. “The rich invest in time. The poor invest in money.” This statement was said by Warren Buffett and it exemplifies my next point. The wealthy understand the value of time.
  4. Self-made millionaires live within their means. They do not splurge outside of their budget and often, they will work diligently to stay under budget.

If you are a data person like I am, then at this point you must be interested in some numbers. I have a strong affinity for women owned businesses. So, let’s look at data as it relates to women owned business.

  1. More than 9.4 million firms are owned by women.
  2. The 9.4 million firms employ nearly 7.9 million people and generate $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015.
  3. 9 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S.
  4. 2% of all women-owned firms have revenues of 1 million or more.

Source: Statistics from Womenable report commissioned by American Express “OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses  2015” for full report click here.

So, what needs to be done to improve these numbers for more women owned business to reach a level of success that includes generating at least 1 million dollars in revenue. Does discipline play a role in the level of success that women are seeing? Partially, but there are so many other factors that go into success. And one thing that none of us should get into the habit of doing is making excuses. We all have to deal with our own realities and accept our starting points. What we can change is where we end up. We can put in the work to not only reach our goal but to exceed it.

In this blog series, we are going to dive deeper into success, the role discipline plays, and what all of this means for women business owners. One thing we know is true and that is if you are male or female, discipline is an important factor to achieving your goals. No one can really tell you where you need to increase your level of discipline, but you will have to get systematic in your efforts. Start with small changes, be patient, but remain consistent with your eyes on the goals you hope to achieve.

 

NonProfits are Leaving Money on The Table if they Do Not Embrace Social Media

The non-profit community is constantly working hard to do the greatest good for people all over the world. Many of us have worked and are currently volunteering with non-profits in our spare time. Unfortunately, the large corporations are not donating to non-profits like they used to. Our non-profits are having to get creative in their fundraising efforts, the grants they apply for, and how they communicate to their key stakeholders. Non-profits that continue to stray away from social media are leaving money on the table.

There are many reasons why social media does not rise to the top in many non-profit organizations. Some include the fact that leadership and those that are decision makers still do not see the value in social media, there is not an immediate return on the investment of time that it takes to manage social media channels, and it is not what has been done before.

But, instead of harping on why it is not happening. We need to focus on why it should happen and how it can happen (even in the small organizations with no budget).

Executive teams tend to like data. So, here are a few data points:

  1. It was reported that approximately 8 million different viewers visited CDC’s site in a single day following the upload of their first video on YouTube on April 30, 2009.
  2. Research based on consumer surveys has shown that individuals are more likely to seek services from and recommend to others an organization that they recognize as having a strong web presence (McCaughey, Baumgardner, Gaudes, LaRochelle, Wu & Raichura, (2014); Govette, 2014). Social media drives people to your website and keeps your brand top of mind.
  3. Utilizing social media applications for fund development allows organizations to capitalize on social network effect, social proof, peer pressure, and impulse donations (Saxton, 2013; Axelrad, 2015).

Beyond the data, there is a lot more to the story of why social media is right for nonprofits. Basic communication strategy will guide you in saying that you need to communicate with your patrons where they are at. This may be Facebook, Instagram, or even SnapChat depending on the audience that you would like to reach. The beautiful thing about social media is that one can create a strategy that reaches each of these audiences and measure that against the goals that you have for growth. For example, an organization that may help senior citizens has a variety of audiences that it must reach to have significant growth outside of their current circle. This organization needs to reach funders, caregivers, those in the health care profession that may recommend them, and the family of that senior. Understanding your target audience is going to help when looking at boosting a social media strategy.

Social media is all about building relationships with patrons. These are the individuals that will become brand ambassadors, they may remain or become funders, they may even have an influential role on politicians that affect the nature of work done by an organization. Showing the world what is done within a nonprofit via social media helps the nonprofit to tell its’ own story. It allows the nonprofit to showcase what is being done with monies received. When people know that an organization is doing right by their donations, they tend to want to give more.

Many organizations will conduct an end of the year giving campaign. This is the time when nonprofits encourage people during the holidays to give to their organization. The problem is that all the nonprofits are doing this at the same time. The key is to share your organization’s brand story throughout the year so that people feel they know their donation will go into an organization that is properly lifting up the individuals that they have promised to serve. The traditional means of communicating with your audience do not have to completely disappear. Social media is just an additional tool in that tool box to reach your audience.

More data:

  1. Facebook – 1.94 billion monthly active users as of March 31, 2017
  2. Instagram now has over 700 million users, and 250 million users use Instagram Stories every day. In total, Instagram’s added more than 200 million users to its platform in under a year, with 100 million of the newcomers signing on between December and the end of April.
  3. Twitter – 328 million monthly active users as of last count, making Twitter the ninth largest social network in the world.
  4. Snapchat – 158 million people are using Snapchat every day, and on average, open the app 18 times a day, according to Snap Inc.’s initial public offering prospectus.

We always advise nonprofit executives to look at the other organizations that they want to aspire to as it relates to fundraising. Look at their social media efforts vs their traditional communication efforts. The first step in getting an executive team to embrace social media is to show them the data. The numbers do not lie. The audience is there and they are waiting to hear your story.

Many times, it is the youngest/newest member of a nonprofit organization that is attempting to shift the tide when it comes to a nonprofit embracing social media fully. This is difficult because now a senior member of an organization must trust a junior member of the organization that has not been around so long. Our hope is that these two passionate individuals can at least meet in the middle. The experience of the executive team is invaluable, but blending that with the new communication tools that our junior team members may know more about can only help to take our nonprofit organizations to new heights.

Stay tuned to more in this series from Selsi Enterprises. We are taking a close look at how we can get more nonprofits to embrace and utilize social media in a greater capacity to grow their organizations.

 

Reference:

Appleby, Morgan. Nonprofit Organizations and the Utilization of Social Media: Maximizing and Measuring Return of Investment (2016)  http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1051&context=spnhareview

Reflections From The Front Line

By: Morgan Johnson 

On May 24 we hosted The Front Line at Ponce City Market, a panel discussion that was open to
the public. At this ͞fireside chat͟ event we had a very interesting and insightful time where we had an opportunity to discuss some real issues of media in our society. For both topics we discussed that evening, each of the eight panelists had many unique and valuable points.  

The first topic on the table was the popular discussion of fake news vs. real news. The panelists that spoke about this with us were Yalanda Lattimore, Melissa Carter, Nicole Smith and Jovita Moore. Considering their different media backgrounds, a passionate discussion arose regarding their views on the definition of fake news, as well as their perceptions on where the responsibility lies. As far as the definition of fake news is concerned, the general consensus  seems to be that fake news typically comes with an agenda from the source putting it out.  

Different opinions started to become apparent when we tried to figure out the source of the
fake news issue. One half of the argument seemed to believe that deciphering real news was the responsibility of the audience, while the other half believed it was the job of the media to do their research before putting out media. 

Overall, I learned that it is important to be thoughtful in the media outlets we choose and be patient and trusting, instead of skeptical and  not willing to wait for accurate and thorough information.  


The second conversation revolved around social media for social good. Our four panelists, Karin
Lopez, Jen Cox, Lynn Medcalf, and Pamela Booker all use their social media platforms to make the world a better place. They offered very useful advice on how we can do the same. There I learned the importance of starting at home with something you believe in and then sharing it with the rest of the world. It is important that in the age of social media, that we use our  accounts to further society like the women we heard speak. 

The Diary of the Mompreneur Series Starts on May 31st

The Diary of a Mompreneur is a project that we have worked on in the background and are now ready to bring it to life.  We feel that moms can sometimes be made to feel guilty for wanting and acting on their desires for a high level of success.  Often times, when a mom is building her company, this may mean that she is a way from home, missing activities like the kids recitals, and not preparing a hot breakfast every morning. Chores like laundry go undone and mom may come across a little disconnected when she is working to grow her business.

But, what we are finding is that mom has the best intentions for her family. She is looking to build an empire so that she can pass her fortune on to her kids.  To make this happen, unfortunately there are some sacrifices that have to be made, but mom is typically looking at the long run game.

This project will take you behind the scenes of what it takes for moms to juggle all that they are needing to juggle and run a successful business at the same time. Throughout this project, we hope that you will share your experiences using the #DiaryOfAMompreneur hashtag.

SE Welcomes Intern Morgan Johnson

Selsi Enterprises would like to welcome our new PR intern, Morgan Johnson. Morgan is a student at Samford University majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and Spanish. She is a member of Alpha Lambda Honor Society and is an active member of the PRSSA Chapter at Samford.

We knew from our first phone call with Morgan that she would be a perfect fit for Selsi Enterprises. For that reason, we are planning a unique experience for Morgan this summer as we have redesigned our internship program for 2017. She will be the first to participate in our PR Immersion Summer Intensive. This program is designed for students to not only work on real world projects, but also meet and make real connections with people that work in a variety of PR roles around the country.

CEO of Selsi Enterprises, Nicole Henderson, stated, “Internships have the ability to shape the futures and career paths of the students that participate in them. We take our internship program extremely serious. As a product of top-notch internship opportunities, I feel responsible for providing great opportunities for those that choose to intern at our company.”

Continue to watch our blog for further updates from Morgan’s experience with Selsi Enterprises.

Entrepreneurs Think Tank – EP 4 – What had happened was….

Having an idea for a podcast and actually launching the podcast are two entirely different task. Especially when you are teaching yourself how to do everything. Not because you have to teach yourself, but because you know in the long run it will pay off to know how to do it.

We lost a show! It was devastating to have to accept that there was nothing that we could do to save the episode, but it was a great lesson. Things do not always go smoothly….even when you plan them out “perfectly.” As an entrepreneur, you just have to be able to roll with the punches. That is exactly what we are doing.

Listen to this episode about the loss of episode 4 and let us know what you think in the comments below. Have you ever lost something like this? How did you react?

Blogging and Vlogging – Just Do It!

 

As I speak with potential clients from around the world, it is amazing how similar we all are in the desires that we have to grow our businesses. One of the biggest challenges we see our entrepreneurs struggle with is deciding on the content that is appropriate for them to share. Generally speaking, there is always great content around you as it relates to your business. You simply have to bring that in to a format that others can consume as well.

Easy for us to say, right? We eat, breathe, and sleep content.

I think that you can acquire this skill in some part too. Create an avatar that is the ideal client for your business. Define everything that you can….age, life style, income, likes and dislikes. And then speak directly to this avatar. Think about how you bring this person value. How what your share could help them get past a pain point in their business or personal endeavors.

Then, start blogging and vlogging. Yes, blogging and vlogging. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be consistent.

Here are some interesting stats:

  1. 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
  2. The average word count of top-ranking content (in Google) is between 1,140-1,285 words.
  3. Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts.

We are living in an era where your customers want to see you. They do not want to see your logo or your pushy, salesy content all of the time. You have to earn the right to sell to your customers in today’s marketplace. Blogging and vlogging will help in so many ways. Not only does it help you to keep current information out in the universe, but it also allows you to get seen as an expert by media.  If you continue to prove that you know what you are talking about, then you will start to see the fruits of your labor.

It is a marathon not a sprint! Start today and take a look at the results that come in month over month.

 

 

 

The Front Line