Your campaign message – what voters get by electing you – is the most important part of your campaign for public office. 5 way to find the perfect message for your political campaign.

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Today a quick tutorial on how to come up with a clear and compelling campaign message that helps you win an election. I’ll start by telling you what I mean by message and why it is essential to your success in political campaign planning.

Your message is what voters get by putting you in office. If you don’t tell them, they’ll never know. Nobody buys anything without knowing what they are going to get for their money. Voters need to know what’s in it for them if you expect them to support you. Therefore, you must tell voters what you are going to do that will improve their quality of life. An injustice you are going to correct. A wrong you are going to right. Policy initiatives that you plan to advance that will fix a problem, or ease the pain of those in your jurisdiction.

In a race for Mayor or city council, it could be as simple as creating or improving a park, fixing a troubled school, building more sidewalks repaving streets and picking up garbage more often. In a race for Congress, it could be increasing access to health care, improving the safety net for people who’ve lost their jobs, improving the environment, overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic, or healing our racial divisions. 

I am not here to tell you what your perfect message is for your political campaign. It’s not something I could know absent more information about you and your jurisdiction. What I can and will do is explain how you can come up with exciting, original, creative ideas. Ideas you can use to develop the offer you are going to make to the voters in your jurisdiction. There are five, and all are rich sources of information and ideas:

Number one is sit down by yourself with a pad and pencil, and write down what you would do if you could wave a magic wand and make some good things happen in your community, city, state or country.

What are you passionate about doing? What motivates you to run? What problems do you want to fix? What causes are important to you? What excites you? Is there a threat you want to mitigate? An evil you want to vanquish? A villain you want to conquer? What are your ideas on how to improve the quality of life for people in your community or jurisdiction? Your list can be as long as you want it to be. Better that you have 50 ideas than 2.

Number two is set aside some time each and every day to scan national newspapers and local publications in your community, including blogs and weekly newspapers.

Newspapers cover pain, publish stories about suffering, wrong doing, injustice, and problems that defy solution. Problems that affect the lives of everyday people and their quality of life. Jot down those that interest you, and star those that you believe is a widespread concern of people in your jurisdiction.

Number three is get in your car and drive around.

Note what you see. Traffic bottlenecks, dangerous intersections, or larger problems like troubled neighborhoods, gang activity, school facilities in disrepair, empty storefronts, signs of decay, roads or bridges that need to be fixed.

A few years ago I was in a car with a candidate for Congress, and as we waited at a railroad crossing for a train to pass, she noticed that the train was pulling more than 80 black tanker cars. Out loud she said, “I’ve never seen this before on this railroad. What do you suppose is in those tanker cars?”  It took three phone calls to learn the cars were filled with highly volatile bakken crude. Crude oil that was prone to explode in a derailment, and create a cloud of lethal gas that would instantly kill anyone who inhaled it. We also learned that the tracks on which it was running were in dangerous disrepair, and sat close to several parks, playgrounds and elementary schools.

It became a cause in her campaign. To force the railroad to fix the tracks, upgrade dangerous railroad bridges, to pay the cost of training first responders who might have to evacuate neighborhoods and schools, and require the railroad to pay for their equipment.

You can find plenty of causes to champion simply by observing what you see driving around your community or city you want to represent.

Number 4 is recruit a brain trust. Six to eight of the smartest people you know to join you for an evening or two just to brain storm.

People you know who are bright, well-read, active in the city or community you want to represent. People who know what they are talking about. The best recruits for a brain trust are people whose knowledge of a subject is superior to yours. They need not be political experts, but they should have some sort of policy expertise.

Number five is visit with opinion leaders, influencers and movers and shakers in your city or community.

The head of United Way, President of the Rotary Club, or the Lions Club, prominent ministers, the President of the Chamber of Commerce. Leaders of service organizations. Ask questions about the challenges facing those they serve. These kinds of people are on the front lines, the first to hear about problems affecting your community, and often they have ideas on how to fix them.

When you have done these things, you’ll have a long list of ideas. Divide them into three categories. Ones which are important to you; ones you think are concerns widely shared by people in your jurisdiction; ones you can actually do something about. Put a check-mark next to those that are in all three categories.

This is not the end of the work you’ll need to do on your message. But it is a place to start. 

Soon I’ll be back with another video on the next step in constructing your campaign message. Hit the subscribe button and you’ll receive a notice the minute it goes live.

running for office

Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

How to win an election:

Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.

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