Tips, Questions and Tools
Hi there –
We get too many calls from candidates who are making a change to their campaign consulting team. Unfortunately, this happens because candidates weren’t diligent in choosing the right consultant to begin with, or hired based on factors that had nothing to do with their campaign goals and needs.
The increasing number of firms in the political industry make it difficult to find the right one for your campaign. Time is the only limited resource campaigns have so we want to pass along some information that can help candidates and political directors make the decision that is right for them – from the beginning.
- Determine what your needs are before even interviewing a political consulting firm.
- Do you want someone to just help with advertising or do you need help from a general consultant? For example, CN4 can operate as your full-service (all types of advertising and general strategy) firm while others offer only one type of advertising or none at all.
- General consultants work on targeting, help you write the campaign plan and hire and guide the manager. The general consultant, if there is one, should be media agnostic.
- Look at the firm website. Most political consulting firms provide a portfolio of recent work on their websites. Political firms will put their best work up there so if you don’t think that work is high-quality, then don’t expect it on your campaign.
- Ask to see examples of media product from similar size races. They might have examples to show you that are similar to what you’ll need for your race.
- What about those awards? In political consulting, there are two widely recognized awards. The first, from the American Association of Political Consultants, are known as the Pollies. The second, awarded from Campaigns and Elections Magazine, are known as the Reed Awards. View some of the Pollie and Reed Awards CN4 has won for our clients.
Here are questions you can ask Democratic political consulting firms when you interview them:
- Who will be doing the actual day-to-day work? With some political consulting firms, the principal pitches a campaign and hands the actual work off to a junior associate. You’ll want to make sure you know who is assigned to your campaign and that you’ll have access to the top folks.
- Do you charge a monthly fee? While sometimes a strategic retainer is needed, most firms that work on federal or major statewide races won’t charge a monthly management fee.
- How many people work for the firm? Bigger isn’t always better and you need to ensure your campaign gets attention.
- How many other clients do they have, and at what level of races?
- What is included in the price for direct mail? What costs are built in and what are extra (is postage included)?
- What is their process for designing mail or producing video or digital advertising?
- Are there other costs associated with your race? Do they charge a winner’s bonus?
Perhaps the most important factor in choosing a consultant is simply this: Do you trust them? Do you trust them enough to take their advice? Do you trust that they are experienced enough to understand the race and make the right choices to help you win the campaign? Do you trust that they will have your best interest (not their bottom line) at heart not only throughout this campaign, but throughout your career? (It is possible you’ll run for higher office, so make sure the firm that you start with has the capacity to help you grow at every level.)
Stay tuned for an updated Toolkit for 2021 but 2020 still has some useful tools in there! I mean, a wrench is a wrench no matter what year. Check it out here.
2021 should be a great year of leaders stepping up and running for local office. Here is CN4’s QuickStart Guide that can help frame how to think about starting up a political campaign.
What’ve you got going on? I’d love to chat with you about your campaign or next political project. Call/text at (206) 794-1961 or just reply to this email.