Austin Tour: Day 3–NPF Conference

Our third day in Austin and our second at the “Campaign Bootcamp” was the most intense.  Gone were the cultural activities or the speeches by former Supreme Court Justices.  Today was devoted to learning about the nuts and bolts of the modern-day political campaign.

Our itinerary was as follows:

  • Fundraising, by Pasha Moore
  • Crafting the Message, by Parag and Luke Marchant
  • Targeting Voters, Parag and Jeff Mason
  • Polling,Chris Perkins
  • Creating a Field Plan,
  • Earned and Paid Media, Liz Chadderdon
  • Social Media, Vincent Harris
  • Campaign Team Work

Our favorites varied, with Cody preferring “Polling,” by Chris Perkins.  Perkins was engaging, and stressed the importance of planning up front to achieve greater return on investment—or, as Perkins put it, “bang for your buck.” Perkins emphasized the importance of polling prior to even running for office, a move that will help campaigns know how to direct their message and prioritize their voter targets.

Chris Perkins Discusses Polling

Chris Perkins Discusses Polling

Dulce’s favorite was the fundraising session, led by Pasha Moore.  Moore’s presentation emphasized three major components: (1) being personable while conducting yourself professional; (2) doing more than asking for support—you have to tell them how to support you; (3) and ask for more than you expect, but be realistic.

Pasha Moore with Dulce Martinez

Pasha Moore with Dulce Martinez

Jessica had two favorites.  She enjoyed Vincent Harris’s session on social media, learning that websites are 50% more effective than email, ads, or facebook. Harris stressed the advantages of social media—it’s cheaper, more targeted, and has an immediacy for issues, advocacy, and defining who you are and who you are opponent is.  (Cody, on the other hand, found it frightening that Harris noted that the “internet is the most trusted media by voters.”)

Vincent Harris Discusses Social Media

Vincent Harris Discusses Social Media

Jessica’s other favorite was the “Earned and Paid Media” session by Liz Chadderdon, who stressed the importance of print media and direct mail.  She discussed “inefficient markets,” places such as New Jersey, where candidates who want television ads must pay for New York or Philadelphia markets, which means the candidate is paying for far more than the candidate’s targeted voters.  Jessica, a photographer, enjoyed Chadderdon’s discussion of photography, who encouraged staffers to capture candidates looking strong, trustworthy, and caring about people.  Her candidates are often shown in candid shows—hugging, celebrating, or smiling.

Liz and Jessica--Smiling and Hugging, Of Course

Liz and Jessica–Smiling and Hugging, Of Course

Dulce also enjoyed this session, recording to memory the three-step strategy from the session: (1) being likeable to candidates, which will encourage voters to (2) listen to your message, and (3) creating trust.

Following a long day of seminars, we then regrouped for mock campaign work.  For her team, Dulce focused on demographics for the Democratic candidate.  Jessica, on the hand, had the same role for the Republican candidate, a role that may have been uncomfortable for her as a Democrat, but a role she took on with gusto.  Cody was also working for a Republican (and is a Republican), but his job involved event planning and outreach.  The presentations are Sunday, but we have still have much to do.

Jessica's Group Gets Down to Work--Will it Pay Off?

Jessica’s Group Gets Down to Work–Will it Pay Off?

That’s a lot to pack into a day, and it lasted from 8:30am through 10:00pm, with additional work in the hotel room (Jessica was up until 2:30am).  But it also involved fantastic learning opportunities, wonderful chances for networking, and a great opportunity to get (mock) hands-on experience campaigning.

We appreciate the New Politics Forum hosting this opportunity annually and bringing in a great set of speakers for us to learn from.



Austin Trip, Day 3: Christian Bionat (June 2, 2012)

We began this morning’s NPF session with Boot camp mentors Parag Mehta and Jessica Colón and a discussion of voting, polling, fundraising, and messaging. I learned that it is important to frame your message to target voters, the elements of a good message, and the principles of good communication.

Soon after, Pasha Moore, from the Holland Taucher Consulting Group, discussed campaign financing and how to ask for contributions. Fellow boot camper and long-time best friend, Andy Bell, from Schreiner University, acted as the campaign donor during Ms. Moore’s role-playing discussion. Ms. Moore illustrated different methods of obtaining campaign contributions and how to go about and creating a fundraising plan. Regardless of the fact that we were running a mock state representative campaign, I found this quite intriguing as fundraising is one of the most difficult aspects for any organization.

Following lunch we discussed targeting voters and social media. With the technology surge from the early 2000’s, the use of social media has continued to grow. Mr. Vincent Harris from Harris Media, LLC, discussed the ramifications of these trends, and argued that digital media is an undervalued resource in Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaigns and introducing new candidates.

Following our afternoon seminars we met all met with our campaign teams (I was assigned to a Democratic challenger in a U.S. House) and discussed campaign strategy. I assumed the role of Deputy Campaign Manager, charged with tracking the actions of the directors, and I report directly to the Campaign Manager. We spent the rest of the evening meeting within the staff positions and creating the most effective way to increase voter turn-out and executing our campaign strategy.

After three and a half long hours of vigorous deliberation and discussion, my team had a working model to defeat our opponent.

I am looking forward to the presentations tomorrow. May the best campaign win!