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So you want to manage a campaign...

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Monday, November 14, 2011

Do you think you have what it takes to manage a campaign?

Every campaign, from State Representative to President, needs a manager. The campaign manager is responsible for writing the campaign plan, creating the campaign budget, and hiring staff that will execute the campaign plan.

Being a campaign manager requires you to manage relationships. The relationship between campaign manager and candidate is the most important relationship that a campaign manager has to cultivate. The candidate is your boss, but the candidate also relies on you to make decisions about how they should spend their time. This is where "managing up” comes in. You have to be able to disagree with your candidate when they want to deviate from the campaign plan. You have to be willing to tell them that call time needs to take priority over marching in a parade this week or that, no matter the outcome of past elections, ordering more campaign t-shirts is not the best use of the campaign’s money.

Simone Ward is the President of Democratic GAIN’s Board of Directors and managed Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s 2010 reelection campaign. Here is what she had to say about managing a campaign:

"Managing a campaign means you have to be a jack of all trades. You need to understand what your consultants, staff, and candidate are thinking and doing. You’re in charge of the campaign’s budget, too. It’s your job to set the overall strategy for the campaign and then manage the people and relationships that will help your campaign follow that strategy to victory. It is also means managing up. The candidate is your boss, but it’s your responsibility to get the candidate to stick with the campaign plan. That sometimes means telling the candidate, ‘No.’”

As campaign manager, you are the nexus for internal communication. It’s your job to keep your staff and consultants on the same page when executing the campaign plan. There will be a number of people who will be more than happy to tell you how your campaign should be run and how you should be doing things. That’s why writing and sticking to a campaign plan is so important.

A campaign manager at their best runs an operation where the different components of the campaign – field, finance, communication, consultants – are working in concert. You set the goals for each department that will help the campaign achieve its overall goal: winning the election. You need to make sure field is knocking on the right number of doors and that finance is raising the amount of money they need to. If anyone is falling behind, the campaign manager has to step in and help them get back on track because the campaign manager is responsible for every decision, success, and shortfall on a campaign.

Think you’re up to the challenge? Come to the Democratic GAIN career fair and meet with the professionals and organizations that are staffing up for 2012!

See you in December!

Tags:  2012  Campaign Manger  Campaigns  Career Fair 

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