Ask an expert, but then ask three more
Consultants have been in the trenches. They’ve worked on campaigns. They know the business. They also make a living on your paid media and their “expert” advice. There are good consultants and there are bad consultants, so trust your gut feeling on this. I had one consultant who made me sit in the car during a meeting (Yes, he made me sit in the car in Florida for an hour in the dead of summer. Graciously, he cracked the windows for me.) He didn’t last long.
When you are looking to bounce ideas of someone, recognize that you can also call other managers, congressional staffers or party leaders. They can give advice for free.
You’re the face of the campaign, so act accordingly
When I was interviewing with my candidate and preparing to move from Denver to Florida, my Facebook page almost sunk me. There was no partying or drinking on my page. But somehow, my candidate’s wife thought I had been a stripper in college (I had just graduated). Within 15 minutes of getting a concerned call from Ted, I had my Facebook page clean as a whistle.
And when I arrived in Florida, there were wardrobe changes to be made. Heels got a little shorter, hemlines got a little longer and the clothes a little less fitted. When working a primary election with an older demographic, it’s important to be conscious of how you are perceived. Check your ego and just roll with it.
Know your numbers
Know the demographics and likely turnout for your district inside and out. Run different voter turnout scenarios until you are blue in the face. As a first time manager on the congressional level, people will test you and if you don’t know the answers, it will hurt your credibility.
Turn every negative into a positive
Is your candidate having a hard time asking for money? Turn that challenge into a fundraising appeal. One of our fundraising blasts: “Ted and Carolyn have always worked hard for everything they have which is why asking for donations is difficult or even downright awkward. However…”
Running out of yard signs? We told our supporters to take theirs out of the yard and place them near their polling place when they went to vote.
Believe in yourself and the campaign
Campaigns are emotional roller coasters. You will have a few days of riding high, great feedback from volunteers and then the next day you wake up to a crap storm. Campaigns are unpredictable, high pressure, high stress and they will leave you emotionally drained. These are the times when you need to believe in yourself more than anything or anyone. If I had a dollar for every person who told me I was a fool for managing Ted Yoho’s congressional campaign, I would be a very rich woman.
People will give you every reason to quit the campaign, but don’t bite. And don’t ever tell your candidate, staff or volunteers they are going to lose. Sometimes a quick call home to mom or a drive around the block blasting music can make all the difference in the world.
Kat Cammack is the campaign manager for Florida Republican Ted Yoho, who defeated longtime Rep. Cliff Stearns in an August primary.