8 Steps to Start Your Political Campaign

1. File your Intent 

File your Declaration of Intention to Accept Campaign Contributions with your State Ethics Commission office or the equivalent in your city, county or state.


2. Open a Checking Account 

Open a separate Checking Account for your Campaign. Remember to order a Debit Card.

3. Have a Logo and Website designed 

Have your logo designed first before you start on your website and social media profiles. You want your campaign logo and materials to be uniform for your campaign branding. 

4. Update your LinkedIn Profile 

Complete your full LinkedIn profile with a summary paragraph announcing your candidacy, professional experience, skills and expertise, education, publications, volunteer experience, honors and awards.

Tip #1 – Do not lie on your LinkedIn profile your opposition research will call you out (more on this in #6)

Tip #2 – Also make your LinkedIn profile public. You want potential voters, donors and volunteers to find you online.

5. Facebook and Twitter pages for your Campaign 

Start with reserving your campaign names on Facebook and Twitter. (For example, on Facebook – John Green for City Council and Twitter – Green for City Council)

You can go back later to upload your logo, bio and campaign website. 

6. Google Alerts for your Name 

You need to know everything that is out on the worldwide web about you. This is your 1st step in self-research.

Tip – Google yourself early and often

Opposition research comes later during your campaign planning phase when you know the names of your opponents.  

7. Craft your Campaign Message

Why are you running? Why should I vote for you?

Write out your core campaign message in 2 or 3 points. Your campaign message is a key part of your campaign.

You will need to deliver your campaign message in 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 2 minutes.

Tip – Memorize your campaign message and be ready to repeat at least 15 times everyday on the campaign trail. 

8. Get Trained on Campaign Finance Laws for your Race 

You need to know the campaign contribution limits and financial disclosure deadlines.

Check with your city, county and/or state campaign finance laws before you start accept a dime in campaign contributions.

(Example – The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission offers trainings and information on campaign finance laws) 

9 Components to Your Campaign Plan

Stacey’s Campaign Plan Components

1. Political Lay of the Land: The Political Environment in your District

2. Campaign Leadership Team: Your Campaign Staff and Volunteers

3. Message: Issues, Campaign Narrative and Message Box

4. Communications/Media: Press Plan, Earned and Paid Media and Social Media Plan

5. Field Plan and Voter Contact: Targeting, Door Knocking, Phone Banking, Visibility

6. Research: Self and Opposition

7. Fundraising Plan Budget: Plan to Raise the Money and Plan to Spend the Money

8. Calendar, Schedule and Timeline: Candidate’s Time, Campaign Timeline, Campaign Events, Visibility and Fundraising Events

9. Technology: Campaign Website, Database, Social Media Platforms

9 Steps to Take Before Running for Office

Stacey’s Preparation Steps

1. Get Trained

2. Discuss with Your Family

3. Speak to Your Employer

4. Get Your Financial House in Order

5. Decide Which Office

6. Conduct Research

7. Assess the Political Landscape

8. Learn Your District or Territory

9. Build Your Kitchen Cabinet Advisors

7 Tips for Volunteer Coordinators

Stacey’s Tips for Volunteer Coordinators

1. Have specific duties for your volunteers – Phonebanking, Door Knocking, Stuffing Envelopes or other specific duties

2. Have the work prepared when your volunteers arrive - They came ready to work.

3. Tell them how their tasks contributes to the campaign - Your work helps us reach voters.

4. Give them t-shirts - Something about free t-shirts makes people work.

5. Provide healthy snacks and water for them - You can’t expect people to work hard with no nourishment.

6. Give your Volunteers titles – They will appreciate them.

7. Always Say Thank YOU - Instead of knocking on doors for your campaign, they could be inside in the air conditioning.

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6 Fundraising Tips for Candidates and Campaigns

Stacey’s Fundraising Tips

1. Ask and Ask again – You must ask for campaign contributions.

2. Get Organized – Organize your contacts, addresses, numbers and email addresses in a spreadsheet or database.

3. Recruit a Finance Committee – Recruit family, friends, colleagues, business leaders and community leaders to raise money from their contacts.

4. Be Specific – Ask for a specific amount of money and then be quiet until the other person answers.

5. Follow-Up – Send emails, faxes, letters, texts and phone calls to follow-up on pledges and get the money in the door.

6. Say Thank YOU! – Always say THANK YOU for each and every contribution you receive. Someone sacrificed and contributed their hand earn money to your campaign and dream.

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Stacey featured on the cover of the Atlanta Tribune Magazine

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11 Tips for Positioning Yourself to Run for Office

Stacey’s Positioning Tips

1. Get Trained – Before you decide to run for office, you should seriously consider attending a political leadership training.

2. Campaign for Others – Working on a campaign team is great experience to have before you decide to become a candidate.

3. Prepare for Public Speaking – As a candidate for elected office, you will engage in public speaking and repeat your message thousands of times during your campaign.

4. Join Community Organizations – Join and participate to meet others in different industries with similar interests. Junior League, Urban League, League of Women Voters, Kiwanis and Rotary are a few great community organizations.

5. Join Professional Organizations – Get involved in your professional industry organization, for examples Society of Human Resources Management, National Association of Social Workers and National Society of Accountants.

6. Seek an Appointment – Serving on a local, state or federal Board or Commission is a great way to serve and get experience before you run.

7. Know Community Issues – Attend city council, county commission or legislative meetings to understand the issues in your community. Read you local city and county newspapers, blogs and websites to learn more.

8. Take a Leadership Role – Running for a position on your Home Owners Association, Parent Teacher Association, Sorority or Fraternity.

9. Serve on a Nonprofit Board – Join a nonprofit board around issues of importance to you like animals, the environment, homelessness, civil rights or children. You will serve, expand your skill set and meet leaders in other industries.

10. Get Involved with your Political Party – Attend your party meetings and events to get involved, understand the lay of the land and meet the major players.

11. Volunteer your Time – Volunteer in your community to pass out meals with Meals on Wheels, read to children through a Literacy Association or lead a Girl Scout or Boy Scout.

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Positioning Yourself to Run for Office – Tip #3 Preparing for Public Speaking

Positioning Yourself to Run for Office
Tip #3 – Preparing for Public Speaking

As a candidate for elected office, you will engage in public speaking and repeat your message thousands of times during your campaign.

You will be using your 30 second, 60 second and 2 minute speeches when meeting voters, participating in debates and during door knocking.

6 Public Speaking Tips
1. First impressions really count. The audience is giving you 30-60 seconds before they make a judgement about you and your credibility so start strong with a story, a powerful statement or your key promise

2. If it’s a speech, don’t spend your first impression on two minutes of thank yous. Get into your message as soon as you can

3. Be yourself when you deliver your talk from your heart and head. Often when people are “on” they stiffen up.

4. Less is more. Speak as little as possible to get your point across.

5. Read your audience.

6. Make sure to take questions and answer them concisely and stay on message

(Public Speaking Tips were created by Lisa Witter, COO of Fenton Communications and co-author of The She Spot: Why Women are the Market for Changing the World and How to Reach Them)

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Positioning Yourself to Run for Office – Tip #2 Campaigning for Others

Positioning Yourself to Run for Office

Tip #2 – Campaigning for Others

Working on a campaign team is great experience to have before you decide to become the candidate. Campaigning for others will teach you about all the aspects of a political campaign.

The Campaign Team includes:

  • The Campaign Manager works for the candidate, provides strategy and manages the campaign team.
  • The Finance Director raises money for the campaign to meet the budget set by the Campaign Manager.
  • The Communications Director builds the campaign message and keeps the candidate “on message.”
  • The Field Director designs the voter contact plan to reach voters and finds the votes to win the election.
  • The Volunteer Coordinator organizes and recruits volunteers for the campaign.

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Positioning Yourself to Run for Office – Tip #1 Get Trained

Positioning Yourself to Run for Office

Tip #1 – Get Trained – Attend a Political Leadership Training Program

I have spent the last seven years in training programs all across the country; a weekend in snowy Columbia, South Carolina, a week in beautiful New Haven, Connecticut and five months at the coolest technology center in Atlanta, Georgia.

The training programs have added value during my career as a congressional staffer, congressional finance director, state party deputy finance director and now as a political strategist and trainer.

Before you decide to run for office, you should seriously consider attending a political leadership training. Training programs build your skills, give tactics and plan strategies for your run for office. Training programs provide opportunities to meet new people, develop friendships and expand your network. The training programs varies in duration from a weekend to five months.

Here are a few of my favorite programs:

Emerge America
Emerge America is the premier training program for Democratic women. We inspire women to run, we hone their skills to win. Our goal is clear: to increase the number of Democratic women in public office.

New Leaders Council
The mission of New Leaders Council is to train and support the next generation of progressive political entrepreneurs – those who are leading industries, setting trends, and building institutions that support robust civic and political life in a global America.

The Women’s Campaign School at Yale
The Women’s Campaign School at Yale is a nonpartisan, issue-neutral political campaign training program. Our mission is to provide the very best training in the world for women who want to run for office or who want to move up the ladder to higher elective office. We train women to run political campaigns and to advance their careers in public service.

Wellstone Action
Wellstone Action and Wellstone Action Fund is a national training center for people interested in progressive change.  We help activists win on issues and elect progressive candidates by training them in the nuts and bolts of grassroots organizing, voter engagement, political advocacy, and leadership development.

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