You just became a campaign manager for the first time? Congratulations. You’ve embarked on what will be, almost definitely, one of the most rewarding (and frustrating, tiring, exhilarating, terrifying and enjoyable) experiences of your life.
What makes the job of campaign manager so unique is that you must develop several new skills, and take on multiple new roles, in an incredibly brief amount of time. Basically, you just became the CEO of an exciting new start-up that has only weeks to get up to full steam.
As campaign manager, you’ll find yourself doing everything from art direction to babysitting, but there are three main “hats” you’ll definitely wear.
Candidate Wrangler: A campaign manager must keep the candidate (and by extension the entire campaign team) efficient, on task and on target. The most important resource in any campaign is time, unlike money, staff or volunteers you can never get more of it. And it’s the only thing that you and your opponent will have in equal measure. So, you must maximize every second of your campaign operation.
To do that, you have to limit distractions (no, the candidate doesn’t need to be doing his own Facebook posts or reading every press release from the opponent…or picking out web site color schemes) and make sure the goals of the campaign are clearly laid out, communicated and tracked.
Decision-Maker: Every decision in a campaign carries with it enormous implications. On top of that, most of them take place in the public eye in front of a media industry that loves ripping apart campaigns who blunder. Because of this, campaigns are often fraught with “paralysis by analysis” where people become too afraid to make and follow through on decisions.
As campaign manager, your job is to ensure that your campaign doesn’t freeze up waiting for the perfect plan or situation. Remember, never make the perfect the enemy of the good, and fail to capitalize on your opportunities. You should get counsel from a trusted team, but you must be able to get good, actionable, information to your candidate so a decision can be made in a timely and confident manner.
The Black Hat: Sadly, in the world of modern campaigns, the campaign manager is often more worried about their own future rather than the success of their own candidate or campaign. In order to be successful, a campaign manager must be willing to make tough decisions (like firing poor staff, etc.) and be the “bad guy” even if it could lead to future tensions and problems.
The candidate must always be the “White Hat” and shown in a positive light by the campaign manager. The candidate is the brand. You must protect the brand. You always hear Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, talking about “protecting the shield” (the shield being the recognizable NFL brand). Campaign managers must always “protect the shield”…their candidate.
Want to know more about how to get started on the right foot with your campaign? Then check out the 21 Rules For Winning A Campaign and don’t forget to check out the 4 Books Every Candidate (or campaign manger) Must Read.
Victory Enterprises has nearly two decades of turning campaigns into winners, to see how we can help you and your campaign deliver on election day, be sure to give us a shout.