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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.

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. 

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.

Learn Community Building from Anita Wing Lee on March 29th

Community Building with Anita BLOGThe app Periscope has introduced the world to many AWESOME people and allowed them to share their gifts with humanity. Anita Wing Lee is one of those individuals that is using platforms such as Periscope to bring stories to the world that may not have gotten told in their purest form. Following her path as a light worker, she has managed to build a pretty amazing community.

Anita will be in Atlanta for one day to share her tips on what it takes to build a community that will support your initiatives. On March 29th, those of us in and around Atlanta will have the opportunity to learn from someone who has really accomplished what so many large brands struggle with currently.

You will learn:

  • Community Building
  • Storytelling
  • Tips to using visual cues
  • The beauty of delegating work to community members
  • And, so much more!

Note: This event is a fundraiser with all proceeds going to help Anita’s efforts in the refugee crisis. In an effort to keep the majority of her doantions going directly in to the camps, guest will have to purchase their own lunch. Valet parking is validated with the purchase of your lunch.

Are you in?

Yes, that is the question of the day! Are you in?

We have issued a challenge to all of you that are brave enough to take it! We want you to Scope EVERYDAY! Yes, EVERYDAY.

The reason for this challenge is because the number one question that we are receiving at our agency is….’How can I grow the following for my brand?’ The answer. There is not magic bullet to grow your following, but Scoping can help speed the process. Well, if you put out GREAT content, consistently.

Here are the rules of the challenge:

1. Use the #SED16 in your title
2. Sign up for a Katch account at www.katch.me
3. Sign up for our eNewsletter by clicking here.
4. Scope EVERYDAY. There is not time limit on your scopes. The idea is simply to hi the Start Broadcast button.

Winners will be chosen randomly by the team at Selsi Enterprises as prizes are available.

Have fun!

Selsi University is Underway!

Are you getting noticed in the media?  
If the answer is no, what are you doing to change it?

Many entrepreneurs find themselves stuck on trying to decide if they should be working in their business or on growing their business.  Unfortunately, you need to do a little bit of both.

If your business is young, it can sometimes be a challenge to determine how to fit PR into your budget.  Because we have heard this so much, we decided to create Selsi University for those entrepreneurs who are ready for a little media attention, but are not to the point that they can retain PR representation.

Click here to learn more about what Selsi University has to offer!