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Here’s some free advice to anyone who might be worried about how to translate their experiences on the campaign trail into the next phase of their career: Don’t be. The same rule of thumb applies to those politicos’ parents who are worried about when their child will get a “real job.”
In addition to being a recovering political animal myself, I speak from experience having worked with and managed quite a few communications professionals over the years.
In the ten years after college, I served on numerous political campaigns, worked for two members of Congress, and acted as a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for two consecutive election cycles.
In the period since, I’ve managed to diversify my work experiences by becoming a consultant, helping to launch several successful organizations, serving as an executive officer at a major trade association, and starting a business.
While I have shared some big victories working with extremely talented professionals who have never worked a day on a campaign, I must say I have often found it rewarding to team up with fellow campaign veterans. In particular, those battle-tested professionals who bring to their work an impeccable sense of timing and understanding of what it takes to win and build lasting value. From their firsthand experiences on the campaign trail, these guys know better than anyone that if you fail to adapt to the times, you’re destined to lose.
One need look no further than to the advent of trackers, YouTube videos, Twitter and other social media, which have collectively revolutionized the way the public receives news.
This profound shift in recent years has enabled information to be made available to virtually everyone and in real-time. As a result, in today’s complex media environment, whether you work in the public sector or private sector, it’s no longer enough to simply rely on the old ways of doing things and expect to stay ahead of the competition.
There are few places of course where this rings louder than in the trenches of a campaign.
Campaigns demand critical thinking, effective strategy and fast execution. Campaigns must communicate the right message to the right voters at the right time and for just the right number of times. That doesn’t happen by accident.
Successful campaign operatives need to possess a tireless work ethic, a smart head on their shoulders and an ability to get things done even under the most challenging conditions. It’s not for the faint of heart. But, if you’re up to the task, the lessons learned can last a lifetime.
So, to all those politicos out there, I say this—and parents take note—the next time you find yourself crafting a winning message, preparing your candidate for the bright lights of the media, or managing a crisis, take heart that you are preparing well for the next phase of your career.
Ryan Rudominer is the principal and founder of R2 Strategic Consulting, where he provides clients with strategic communications, advocacy and media relations support.