Ask the Campaign Doc: Plugging leaks

Ask the Campaign Doc: Plugging leaks

Q: Is there any way to stop leaks?

A: Improve confidentiality and reduce leaks—sure, yeah, maybe. Start by sharing sensitive information only on a need-to-know basis. Also, require all employees, vendors and consultants to sign confidentiality agreements.

But stopping every single possible leak? That won’t happen because all organizations must dispense information beyond the inner circle in order to assign responsibilities and build momentum among potential stakeholders.

Earlier this year it was reported that the pope’s butler had been arrested for stealing documents and had leaked church secrets. If the Vatican, a repository of secrets for 2,000 years, cannot stop all leaks, neither can you. Remember that the Watergate scandal was an outgrowth of President Nixon’s obsessive desire to stop leaks, which was self-destructive to say the least.

Q: How do we stop our opponent from lying about our record?

A: Ain’t no truth serums in politics, so get over it. Your job isn’t to make your opponent tell the truth. It’s to defeat them. That doesn’t mean playing their game by responding with your own untruths, but it does mean discrediting them and convincing voters that your opponent cannot be trusted with taxpayer dollars or to keep their campaign promises.

Q: I have an opportunity to pursue a degree in applied politics. Will that better position me to enter professional politics? Will my job opportunities be more abundant if I earn this degree, or would it be better to simply “climb the ladder” and work my way up?

A: Pre-emptive apologies to my friends who have gigs as visiting professors in these types of programs, but real world campaign experience is more valuable and more marketable.

As for academic training, I’d rather hire someone with a background in math, who could help with targeting, or a background in business, who could help manage the books. I’d even prefer someone with a background in literature who could write speeches and news releases. That being said, a degree in applied politics would hypothetically do no harm, unless you factor in the intangible cost of lost opportunity by waiting one or two years to jump with both feet into the real workaday world.

Q: Should our campaign use direct mail?

A: Mail (like other media) is less effective and far-reaching than it used to be. According to the Government Accountability Office, first-class mail volume peaked in 2001 at nearly 104 billion pieces and has fallen about 29 percent—or 30 billion pieces—as of last year. In 2010, for the first time, less than 50 percent of all bills were paid by mail as consumers continue to switch to electronic alternatives. The bottom line is that mail is not a one-stop solution, although it remains a great option for a comprehensive communications plan that includes online ads, social media, field, phones and, depending on the size of the race, TV and radio.

Craig Varoga has managed and consulted on local, state and national campaigns for more than 20 years. Send questions using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @CVaroga or CVaroga@Varoga.US.

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