Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Staging a Political Campaign Event? Think "Wedding"

Campaign Event Management – Think “Wedding”
Ned Barnett

 Note - I was inspired to write this because my "last" single son got married Saturday night, in a big event that was held (but with no political overtones) at the Clinton Center in Little Rock.  Yes, it really does look exactly like the world's largest double-wide, and the inside is even tackier than I'd feared ... it's really almost a parody of itself, and of President Clinton. But it made a fine venue for a great wedding, and having talked at length with the wedding planner - she had dinner with my wife and I after the rehearsal - I was inspired by how closely weddings and political events can parallel.  So learn from the events-masters - wedding planners - and make your next event a life-altering success!

Everybody has experienced a wedding – their own, in most cases, along with the weddings of brothers or sisters, daughters or sons – but even if you’ve only experienced a “Hollywood Wedding” on the Silver Screen, you’ve got an idea of what one is like.  And if you can imagine putting together a wedding – a big wedding, with all the bells and whistles – you’ve know everything you need in order to put together a successful political campaign or fund-raising event or other voter-growing project.

The key to success is planning, whether it’s for a wedding of for a political campaign event.  Except for elopements, visits to the Justice of the Peace, or last-minute spur-of-the-moment “quick, before we sober up” Vegas weddings, all really impressive weddings begin with planning.  And planning begins by making a master checklist.  With just a few exceptions, the lists are the same.

Campaign Event
1.     Wedding Planner & Timetable
1.     Event Planner & Timetable
2.     Theme
2.     Theme
3.     Date and Time
3.     Date and Time
4.     Location or Venue
4.     Location or Venue
5.     Priest, Preacher or Rabbi
5.     Master of Ceremonies
6.     Guest List & Invitations
6.     Guest List & Invitations
7.     Caterer & Flowers
7.     Caterer & Decorations
8.     Entertainment
8.     Entertainment
9.     Wedding Favors
9.     Campaign Hand-Outs
10. Rehearsal & Rehearsal Dinner
10. Pre-Event Run-Through

Let’s run through those.

1.     Event Planner.  Whether this is something you do yourself, something that you assign to your campaign manager, or something you hire out, this is essential. Someone has to be in charge.  If “everyone’s in charge” (i.e., everyone instinctively knows what they’re supposed to do) then, in fact, nobody’s in charge.  Success happens by accident, not intention.  Recommendation:  Hire or retain an event planner – this frees you and your staff up for what you all do best – take care of voters, donors, the media and campaign business.  Then, ask the event planner to create a time table for the events – indicting who does what, and when, in order that it all comes together on campaign event day.

2.     Theme.  This is a central element to the event.  Weddings usually have themes – from “back to nature” to “traditional church” – and this defines everything from the location and date/time to the nature of the invitations and the flavor of the edible decorations.  So create a theme that focuses on the event – and focus the event in ways that will bring in your goal, be they donors, volunteers, the party faithful or potential voters.  Sometimes traditional is best, but sometimes thinking out of the box works.  Traditional means having a voter-education component (“this is who I am and why you should vote for me”) or announcing a new position on an issue of breaking-news importance.  Media events designed to generate press also are traditional, but unless you're already a Governor or Senator who's running for re-election, getting the press out to a "press event" can be tough (meaning "impossible").

Those traditional programs often work – but sometimes, it helps to go beyond traditional, to think out of the box, to make this more than an Amway-like sales pitch.

For example:

Super Bowl Sunday could be a horrible setting for an event – but you could make a Super Bowl Sunday event the hit of the season … IF you want to attract women voters who would otherwise be stuck at home, bored beyond tears as they serve up hot wings and cold beers to their significant other and his buddies as they make fools of themselves in some kind of weird annual male bonding ritual. 

Women can be a powerful force in your volunteer team, but they have other priorities.  Staging a “Gal’s Night Out” kind of events - for voter calling or envelope stuffing or training them to be effective advocates - can really be effective, especially when your event includes the free delivery of (hopefully-donated) pizza and wings, sent home to the husbands of any woman who actually show up, making it “ok” for them to be away from home at supper time.  That may seem a bit pricey, but it could provide a huge pay-off in new volunteers and get-out-the-vote efforts.  They’ll even come home to a happy and well-fed family.

Think out of the box.  If it's not a couples event, come up with a theme that works for the guests’ spouses and families, as well as the guests – and one that also works for building new volunteers, donors or voters.

3.     Date and Time.  You need a date that doesn’t conflict with local civic or charitable events, or Wednesday night church services or other scheduled conflicting events.  You need a time that won’t require you to close your campaign office for too very long (you will have to shut down if stage this event in your own office, or manage the event with your campaign staff.  But to have it somewhere else means your guests won’t see what a great place you have (assuming you have a great-looking campaign headquarters, and that's a bit of a stretch) – and that’s not a good thing.  You also want a date and time that will allow your target audience to turn out in force.   Tie your schedule to something that works for you, or find a way to make it work.  Most events should not be held during office hours (except for noon-time lunch-hour brown-bag rallies) – unless you can come up with a workable exception that makes sense. 

4.     Location or Venue.  The ideal location in most cases is your campaign office, because it allows you to show off your office (and because you've already paid for it).  But there could be a case made for having it off-site - especially if the space is donated.  Cash bars help cover costs and make people happy (and can "pay for" the room) - but be careful if you're in the Bible Belt (that's where I learned politics, and I learned that everybody drank, but nobody admitted it, or would do it in public).   

     Also, The location should be tied to the theme of the event.

5.     Master of Ceremonies. You don’t need a priest, preacher or rabbi to “officiate” the way you do at a wedding, but it often makes good sense to have a third party as your MC – this allows you to more effectively circulate with your guests and not have the pressure of being “on” every instant.  The MC can do double-duty if he or she also represents in some way the theme.  The key here is that the candidate is the only one who can close a deal (I don't mean this in a negative way) - the candidate should talk to donors, representatives of voter blocks, etc. - s/he is the only one who can make the assurance that yes, I'll vote for (or against) that legislation, which is what most voter-block group leaders and potential donors want to hear.  You're not for sale - but if your position and theirs coincides, they want to know this so they can support you.

Having an MC can be especially important if your event involves you making a presentation to your guests (and you'll certainly want to give an informal and rah-rah version of your stump speech).  The MC can hold their attention until you’re ready, then introduce you. 

Whomever you choose, you want someone who creates confidence, and who is glib on his or her feet.  Even better if he or she adds a little local celebrity buzz to the event.  Do not underestimate the importance and impact of local “celebrity,” and make use of it in attracting the guests you want – the ones who will become donors, volunteers or voters.

6.     Guest lists and invitations.  These perhaps should be two distinct categories, so let’s start with Guest Lists. 

a.      Guest List:  Your invitation list should include:

                                                    i.     Known supporters or donors

                                                  ii.     Friends of known supporters or donors (ask your supporters to nominate potential guests)

                                                 iii.     Prospective donors or voting block supporters

                                                iv.     Civic, Religious and Community leaders (especially those who might some day become supporters)
b.     Invitations and Promotions:  Your “invitations” should include mailed and emailed invitations that would be professionally designed and written, then mailed or emailed (or both).  This is important, and a professional should be called in.  Also consider phone banks, to both offer invitations and to serve as reminders - you won't be top-of-mind for the people you want, so a reminder helps.

However, the idea of “invitations” should also include other approaches; here again, professionals (PR, Social Networking, Advertising, etc.) should be involved as well.  

But be careful here.  Back in '78, a Texas senator, Lloyd Benston, was thinking about running for President, and was in South Carolina to talk to some local leaders. However, the event was publicized in the paper, so I went.  There were about 15 "suits" in the room - political professionals - then there was me.  Ol' Lloyd spent all his time talking to the voter (me), which was smart, but the meeting was a bust - all because it was publicized in the wrong way.  So, be careful.

Here's how to promote the event (though I'll address this in much more detail in a future blog post).

                                                    i.     Press releases posted via wire services (BusinessWire, etc.) announcing the event and giving a call-in or social network contact account link by which people can RSVP (and give you their contact information)

                                                  ii.     Social networking “invitations” posted on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc., and supported by blogs, photo spreads and other “content” that will make the right people interested in attending

                                                 iii.     Advertising in local political and civic media, both online and print/broadcast

                                                iv.     Posters at strategic allies – anywhere you can find supporting organizations that will let you post because they share a common target demographic audience
     Caterers and Decorations.  This means event decorations, such as bunting and American flags, blow-up photos of the candidate, etc – there may be catered food (or not) – but whatever you do, you will want to decorate the location – and offering snacks and beverages is almost always an excellent idea.  If alcohol is involved (always a risk, and a reward if you're careful), open bar makes sense unless you've got a financial donor.  Rely on your professional event planner here – she’ll have established business arrangements that should (if you picked the right event planner) get you premium services and discounts. 

However, do check to make sure that the events planner isn’t getting kickbacks from vendors – that kind of business arrangement does not generate superior quality (vendors providing kick-backs have to either cut corners or lose money), and it sure doesn’t get you the best prices, since if at all possible, the kick-back will be passed on to the event planner's client – you. 

8.     Entertainment.  In many events, you – the candidate – you are the “entertainment,” making a presentation about who you are, why you want to be elected and what you'll do when you're in office.  But think beyond the box.  A soft/light jazz combo could add class to the event. The MC might be a budding stand-up comedian who will lighten the event, but no offensive jokes - make sure of that.  On-the-spot entertainment, such as character-sketch portrait artists and even palm readers, can be used effectively - but only in the right event.  You can be serious or light, but you want the entire event to be memorable, and great food, great drinks and great entertainment can add to any event. But never forget - the bottom line - YOU are the event.

9     Campaign Hand-Outs.  These remind your guests that this is ultimately about electing the right candidate - you. It might include samples of custom/branded products - T-shirts, ball-caps, or even buttons and bumper stickers (though I'm not sure of their current value, except on eBay) - and it might also include a “gift bag” with free-service coupons and samples from supportive businesses.  Make them campaign-connected, or make them memorable

     Pre-Event Run-Throughs.   This is where most events run by candidates and their teams fall flat.  Practice.  No wedding goes forward without a rehearsal, and a rehearsal dinner. That’s part of what makes them special, and part of why amateurs (grooms) so seldom mess up on the big day. They rehearsed.  Then, and only then, they partied.

Make your event special.  Do a run-through the day before, or a few hours before - whatever you can make work.  It should be a “dress rehearsal” of the entire event. Make sure everyone on your staff, and every hired gun, is ready. Then, if you do it the night before, reward them by having an event “rehearsal dinner,” at a nice place, and pick up the tab.  That will put everyone in a confident and positive mind-set when they’re ready to move forward.

Bottom line:  A wedding is the beginning of the rest of their lives for the participants. It’s a big deal, and people who care do the planning, sub-divide the responsibilities and make sure everything is done right.  Your campaign event could be the beginning of the rest of your life - if you don't believe me, ask Howard Dean about Iowa.  Make it work for you, and you won't regret it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sample Stump Speech - Making the Sale Fast

One Way of Winning an Election in Three to Five Minutes  
Ned Barnett

In an earlier blog, I suggested that there are four key elements to a successful stump speech.  In this blog, I provided detailed explanations of why these were important, then I provide you with a sample stump speech you can model or adapt for your own purpose.

Every successful stump speech (and in much briefer form, every elevator pitch) should have these four key points:

1.  A statement of "why" - Why YOU want to be an elected official ... 

2.  A statement of "who" - Who YOU are and why being you qualifies you for the job ... 

3.  A statement of "what" - What YOU want to accomplish when you are elected ...

4.  A statement of "why me" - This is your wrap-up, your close ...

A standard short stump speech really doesn't need any more.  

But there's a world of difference between knowing these four guidelines, and crafting an effective standard stump speech.  What I hope to do here (below) is create a sample stump speech, assuming the following six factors are true ...

Of coures, they're not true - believe me, this is purely hypothetical
The hypothetical background points that guided the development of this speech are:

*  I'm the candidate 

*  I'm running for a state senate office

*  This is a contested primary

*  My opponent, a Republican, currently holds the office as incumbent

*  My opponent is an old war-horse, in office for 22 years now 

*  My opponent is widely regarded as something of a RINO, at least among some conservative, libertarian and Tea Party Republicans

PS - as I said above, I am not now running for office - I will never run for office - this is not a Shermanesque Statement!  I mean it!

Disclaimer: The key elements of this mock-speech here can apply to any candidate, for any position (again, see my earlier blog for the reasons why).  This stump speech is not only for Tea Party Republicans, and by setting up this sample, I'm not "officially" encouraging anyone to oppose RINOs or to support Tea Partiers.  

It is just a demonstration.

Warning and Permission: Every candidate's stump speech should be personalized to the speaker and the audience.  Frankly, it would probably not be very smart to think that you (the reader) can just take my speech, plug in your name and go with it - though, of course, you're free to do so, and with my blessing.   If you do decide to borrow-with-permission my speech, please personalize it, following the four keys noted above.

So, here goes - a five-minute mock-stump speech:

Good Afternoon, fellow conservatives, and thank you for joining us today at our Tea Party Meet the Candidate Event.  I am Ned Barnett, tea party activist since 2009, and I'm here today to ask for your support in the upcoming primary.  I am running for the Senate Seat in District 12, and I am running to fulfill a lifelong dream.  My father served in combat in World War II, and his service has inspired my entire career, and my entire life.  

That dream began in college with ROTC service, and with elected leadership at the Methodist Student Center at my university.  This was during the civil rights era, and I am proud to have worked as one small cog in the wheel of freedom for all Americans.  Since then, I've worked for both government agencies - including hospitals and colleges - as well as some of the largest Fortune 500 companies, and some of the smallest and most boot strap start-up companies you can imagine.

I tended to work behind the scenes, letting others take the public credit.  I started that by being an economic development speechwriter in South Carolina for two Governors, including one who later became a Reagan cabinet secretary.  I worked at the state level, handling strategy and media for the Ford for President campaign - and I worked at the top of the team on two other Presidential campaigns, along with a dozen or so congressional, senatorial and state-level campaigns.

I also represented hospitals, back when we still had some freedom in America. I even testified, twice, before Congress - speaking against the kind of healthcare mess our President has given us.  I was able to help stop the Carter plan and Hillarycare, but when it came to Obamacare, the deck was stacked, and no Republican could stop it.

In Nevada, I was both the state party's and the Clark County party's communications director during 2009-2010 - the peak of Tea Party activism in the state - and I had as a client the Tea Party Express.  I've paid my Tea Party dues, and continue to hold its values close to my heart.

My wife, when she lived in Arkansas, was a personal friend and political supporter of Governor Huckabee's - she, like me, is a devoted Constitutional Conservative.  However, I'm not running on my family portrait or how wonderful my kids and grandkids are - they are, but that's beside the point.  We also share a strong faith, but again, I'm not running on my belief in God.

That's about it when it comes to who I am and why I'd like to be your next Senator.  Now I'd like to briefly explain what I plan to do when I represent you in Carson City.  As a truly constitutionally-conservative Republican, I have three goals I will accomplish.

First, I plan to replace our current State Senator.  He's been in office for 22 years - by now, he believes that seat is his by divine right.  In his 22 years, though he still claims to be a Republican, he's made it a point to go along with the Democrats - so much so that he might as well change his affiliation from "R" to "D", from Red to Blue.  

There's a word for for that - RINO - Republican in Name Only.  If you look that up in your Webster's Dictionary, you'll  see his photo next to the definition.

But that's not all I intend to do.  I will propose and push a law by which Nevada can take back from the Federal government all land claimed by the Bureau of Land Management that is not currently being actively used by the government.  I'm not talking about the Nellis Air Force Base bombing range, or the Nevada Test Site. But the Feds hold title to 84.5 percent of Nevada land - more than in any other state, with no justification, no reason, no excuse.

When this law passes, the Federal Government will challenge it. This law will go to the courts.  We cannot expect equity from Congress or the Administration, but we do have a fighting chance for equity coming from the courts.  This is a fight worth making, a fight worth winning.

Finally, I will push legislation to fully fund the State/Federal Matching Grant program for funding Nevada's skilled nursing facilities - what used to be called "nursing homes."  Nevada has the sickest group of seniors in nursing homes of any state in America, but we pay less to support them than we do to house prisoners.  

For our seniors to receive the respect they deserve, we must sufficiently fund their care.  The Federal government - which has a printing press for money - will match whatever we put into the program.  If we truly care about our seniors, we will give them a "living wage" just as we give our state's employees a living wage.  We'll all be older some day - look at this as an investment in each of our futures.

Now let's talk "bottom line."  Why should you vote for me in the primary?  First, I've worked both for and with the Tea Party - I'm not a RINO, I'm one of you.  More important, I've owned businesses, I've met payrolls and I've paid personal and business taxes. I've worked for and with non-profits and government agencies, along with the world's largest hospital company and some truly remarkable small start-ups.  From this experience, I know that the engine of commerce is what makes America run - and I know that freedom and a government policy of "hands off" is what lubricates that engine of commerce.

When I represent you in the next legislative assembly, I will be a strong voice for limited government and APPROPRIATE expenditures - no waste, no boondoggles, no back-room deals.  I will first represent our interests here in the 12th District - I will then represent Nevada's interests, and - whenever the occasion arises, I'll represent America's interests.

Vote for me and you will put that 22-year-old RINO out to pasture, and bring in a young bull, ready to charge into that china shop of Nevada's "business as usual" legislature.

Thank you - and remember, Ned Barnett, Senate, District 12.

That's all it takes to give a stump speech. For some venues, you'll have to shorten it from five minutes to three, and you do that by trimming the hyperbole, not the solid meat on the bone.  In the best of circumstances, you have just a few minutes to explain who you are, why you're right for the job, what you'll do, and why they should vote for you. 

Anything else is superfluous.

Good luck, and if you  need help with your campaign's speechwriting, position papers, website copy or political campaign strategy, contact me at ned@barnettmarcom.com or 702-561-1167.  Thanks!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Grassroots Stump Speech Essentials

Why You Need a Grass Roots Stump Speech ...
And What You Need To Say 
Ned Barnett

Disclaimer:  Off and on, I have been a professional political speech writer for going on 40 years.  I started by writing economic development speeches for two sitting South Carolina governors, one of whom - the first Republican Governor since reconstruction - later became a cabinet secretary for President Reagan.  I have also taught speech-writing at two state universities, in Tennessee and Nevada, and written non-political speeches for other clients.

This experience doesn't make me an expert, but I do want you to know the basis for what I have to say.  Then, Caveat Lector - let the reader beware.

Introduction:  Face-to-face retail political campaigning has changed dramatically over the past few decades, primarily due to a variety of new technological advancements.  With this change has come a change in the traditional stump speech.  In this blog, I'll look first at the technology changes that are rewriting the way local "retail" politics are done, then I'll look at the kinds of stump speeches you're likely to encounter, and what you  need to say.

But first, why "stump speech?"  Back in the day (Mister Lincoln's day), for a candidate to be heard and seen by a crowd, he had to step up on something to put him (in those days, never "her") head and shoulders above the crowd. The two most common ways were the "soapbox" and the tree stump.  For some reason, the phrases have come down to us with "soapbox" being someone expressing (usually) an unpopular idea, while the "stump" is where politicians speak to us.  Even with today's technology, there is a need for a good stump speech, but today's speech is far different from the ones given in Lincoln's day.

Technology:  A variety of technological factors have changed the face of retail politics.  These include:

*  Cable News and the 24/7 national news cycle
*  Cell phone cameras and video cameras
*  The Internet and it's global 24/7 reach, making every blogger a news reporter

As Howard Dean learned to his eternal regret, there are no "closed rooms" and no "private meetings."  His "scream" in Iowa was perfectly acceptable political theater for a man who's just lost a primary - but not the election - and who was rallying the faithful to continue the fight.  But that "perfectly acceptable" one-on-small-group behavior sent a very different message to the cable and talk-radio audiences.

The President learned that there are no closed rooms - even when the rooms are supposed to be secure - when his "they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion" comment was recorded on a cell phone by a major contributor and wound up leaked to the media.  That wasn't a matter of context, but of the idea that no room is a closed room.

Even President Reagan learned this earlier, when he joked about launching a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union over an open mike that he thought was closed.  As a former radio announcer, he should have known better.

The point - with today's pervasive technology, every cell phone is a network TV camera, and every blogger is Walter Cronkite.  So, there are no private, smoke-filled rooms where a candidate can say things he or she doesn't want heard.

Example:  Early in the 2008 electoral season, then-candidate Obama told a small audience (including a camera) that "Look, I got two daughters - nine years old and six years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."

With that one sentence, Obama became the first national candidate to endorse abortion-on-demand as a form of birth control, going so far as to advocate aborting his own grandchildren, just so his daughters wouldn't be "punished with a baby."  However, this was said on a rainy, cold Saturday and it was not picked up on.  After three months of trying, I managed to "break" this story on American Thinker, then leveraged this article into an appearance on Neil Cavuto (Fox Business) and Imus and dozens of other radio, print and Internet media.  Fox then took the story national.  

This brief war story is not about me, however - instead, it's about how one person with access to the Internet can uncover a "quiet" story, then make it public ... and national.  No candidate who opens his or her mouth is free from being exposed.

The moral of the story?  Hidden open microphones have killed more candidacies then have financial or sexual scandals.

 Every candidate must have a stump speech, memorized (it also helps to have an elevator pitch, but that, too, is a topic for a future blog), and every candidate be very careful about deviating from their own persona message.  

So, to the stump speech.  In today's MTV world, the opportunity to speak for more than three to five minutes are rare - below the level of Governor, Senator or Congressman, most candidate events seem to include a great many candidates, and each candidate has from 90 seconds to five minutes to make their cases.  Candidates are batched because it's become ever more difficult for a single candidate to attract audiences large enough to be worthwhile.  

Here's what you need:

1.  A statement of "why" - Why do YOU want to be an elected official That is the single and most important statement you can make.  Be honest, and speak with integrity.  In the aftermath of the Tea Party, the public (not to mention the media) has become much more sophisticated in spotting phonies, sycophants and liars.  With the likes of Obama, Clinton, Pelosi and Reid out there talking every day, aware citizens get a daily course in dishonesty.

2.  A statement of "who" - Who are YOU and why does being you qualifies you for the job?  "Honest Abe" Lincoln was known as the "Rail Splitter" - it symbolized his "up-from-the-bottom" career in a way that "I'm a successful lawyer" would never do.  Find something true and verifiable about you and your life that qualifies you.  This is not the place for a long list - but for from one  to three brief and illustrative things about you that make you qualified for the post.

3.  A statement of "what" - What do YOU want to accomplish when you are elected. Again, this isn't a laundry list - pick one to three (depending on stump length) issues you plan to advocate or oppose once you're in office.  This will give listeners a self-interested reason to support you - or oppose you.  This is the "risk" question, because every issue has supporters and opponents.

4.  A statement of "why me" - this is your wrap-up, your close - this is (in essence) your "elevator pitch," the brief 30-90 second statement in which you make your case for why YOU, distinctively, should get the listener's vote.  Pull from the first three answers elements that help you make your case.  This means, in practical terms, that you should start by writing the "why me" part of the speech, then use that to define the first three items.

A standard short stump speech doesn't need any more.  

However, the basic stump speech should be adapted for specific groups.  It should also be adapted if the candidate is under fire for some "gotcha" from the other side, be the attack from a fellow party member in a primary, or from the guy from the other party in a general election.

But those kinds of distinctive modifications don't work with a "one-size-fits-all" blog like this, but if you have any specific questions, I'd be glad to offer you my insights - you can reach me at ned@barnettmarcom.com. 

Why Donors Really Donate - From Friends-and-Family to Buying Influence

Why You Can Raise Money When You're Running 

Ned Barnett

The other day, a candidate for a Justice of the Peace (JP) position in Texas asked me for advice about raising funds for her forthcoming campaign.  She was hoping for some suggestions on how to stage a fundraiser, but I'm afraid that, because of the pragmatic rules of political fund-raising, I had to disappoint her.

People and organizations donate election-campaign funds to candidates for a variety of reasons, but generally, only one or two really apply to candidates who are running for positions that have no influence to peddle - and by that I mean, positions that, by their very nature, offer nothing to materially benefit the donor in any way.

I explained this to the JP candidate, and - if you scroll or read down to the end of this essay - I'll share with you what I told her.

Universal reasons to donate:

* Family-Friends - people you know, and who know you, and like you well-enough to contribute to your personal success

* Party support - while some jurisdictions have non-partisan campaigns for judge-ships and other, similar roles, if the position is "political," it is reasonable to expect that some party or party-loyalist donations are possible.

Focused reasons to donate:

*  Lawyers - lawyers donate to judges who are running for office, especially defense attorneys and litigators - it seems wrong to me, but obviously some judges are venal enough to make such donations a make-or-break proposition ... most lawyers just consider this part of the cost of doing business, like paying the rent

*  Party loyalty - some partisans support candidates to demonstrate their party loyalty, or to fulfill their very real party loyalty

*  To defeat the opponent or defend the candidate - this is a real and emotional reason for people to donate - this is the motivation behind most of those "out of state" fund-raising campaigns you see.  "Contribute to defeat Harry Reid."  "Contribute to re-elect Scott Brown."  Those become causes (donations to causes is outside this blog's topic, but it will be covered in a future blog).  This also applies close to home, and is a major and "up-front-and-honest" reason for people to donate. They want nothing more than to block one candidate, or elect the other - beyond that, there's no "payback" involved.

The last two reasons for donating are very real and very human, but not so very noble or upstanding.  Still, reality triumphs, and these tend to be the two most important (in terms of dollars and cents) reasons why people or organizations make donations.

*  Access - business execs and owners, lobbyists, heads of advocacy groups and others donate not because they believe that the donation will influence a successful candidate's votes, but that a sufficiently-large donation will open doors and provide access.  This kind of motivated donation applies to city and county council and the local mayor, state legislature and state executives (think Governor), and of course Congressmen, Senators and the President.

*  Influence - in principle, no elected official should ever trade influence for donations.  If we were dealing with "sin," providing access for donations would be a venal sin, but providing influence for donation would be considered a mortal sin.  In the business world, exchanging influence for money is called felony bribery, and carries with it a stiff prison sentence.  But in the world of politics, it's called "business as usual."

Now what does that mean to the aspiring JP candidate?  She has three options.

Friends-and-Family - this is the most reliable option for her.  It doesn't cost a great deal to run such a campaign - which is mostly about name-recognition, meaning yard signs and an Internet presence - but it does have a price tag.  Those most likely to help a candidate with no influence to peddle are the ones who already know and like her.

Party loyalty - this only applies if the position is a Democrat-vs.-Republican race, but if it is, raising funds from among Republican individuals and organizations is viable.

Defeat an opponent - that is a viable reason, and, at a local level, it can be the most powerful way of raising money - but only if the opponent has done something to create a broad group of opponents.  This is more likely in Congress than at the Justice of the Peace level, but it could be viable.

Successful fund-raising for any candidate requires balancing the reasons people give, with the reasons those people should give to you.  For candidates running for positions that can have a direct impact on citizens, businesses, organizations or causes, all of the reasons noted here apply.   For other candidates, such as JPs, the reasons to give are generally more persona.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Introduction to Barnett On Political Campaign Success

Welcome to Barnett on Political Campaign Success
A Blog About How Political Candidates and Political Causes Can Win

I'm Ned Barnett, and I've been active in politics since I was a kid - going on 50 years now - and I've been a professional in politics (speechwriter, strategist, media coordinator) off and on since the early 70s.   It's my hope to use that experience  to offer guidance and support to those who are interested in politics, including:

* political candidates
* those considering becoming political candidates
* those seeking to advocate on behalf of issues impacting society

My experiences have been primarily on the conservative side of the ledger, though by no means only in the Republican Party.  However, if I do this right, my experiences and advice will help any candidate of any stripe, or any cause-advocate, to better get his or her message across, move voters and make things happen.

In this ongoing blog, I intend to supply readers with "insider" information that represents a combination of practical tips and illustrative "war stories" about political campaigns and political issues management.  Since 1968 (when I served as President of the Georgia Federation of Teen Aged Republicans) to today - from there to Nixon and Ford, to Reagan and Bush (with a side-trip to Perot) - I have delivered campaign strategy and media success for state and federal candidates, as well as helped successfully manage divisive political issues.  I've even testified twice before Congress, which sounds more impressive than it actually is, and I've worked for several years with the Drug Czar in the White House, which is actually more impressive than it sounds.

I continue to be active in the political realm, and it is on this experience that I hope to offer advice.  However, to understand that advice, and the activity on which that advice is based, here is a snapshot of my political background and experience.

As you can see, there's been a lot of experience, so it's a big snapshot - however, a quick review of my track record and timeline will help you decide if I actually have any advice worth listening to.

Caveat Lector - let the reader beware!  Or, as my old man (a passionate life-long conservative) told me when teaching me how to play poker, "Trust your old man, son ... but cut the cards!"

Here it is, nut and nutshell.

*  1964 - "Mascot" for the local Young Republicans, did rally and door-to-door work on behalf of Barry Goldwater and independent conservative causes - distributed Phyllis Schlafly produced and anti-LBJ material in on-the-fence Republican district
*  1966 - Fund-Raiser - I held my first fundraiser, for a local Republican Congressman, in my parent's basement - it was a success in financial and vote-generating terms.
*  1968 - Teen-Aged Republicans - I was president of the Georgia Federation of Teen Aged Republicans; in this role I met both John Wayne and Richard M. Nixon (and Pat)
*  1968 - Attended my first National Convention, in Miami
*  1974-5 - Speechwriter for two sitting South Carolina governors, on economic development - one later became Reagan's Secretary of Energy
*  1976 - Presidential - I managed strategy and media for the Ford For President/South Carolina, working with the brilliant 23-year-old Lee Atwater (who was not the person his detractors claimed - you'd never find a more honorable man in politics) - this was a campaign doomed from the start because our opponent was from Georgia, just next door, and was wrongly presumed to be conservative.
*  1977 - Offered a spot on the White House communications team - not because I'd supported Carter (I didn't) but because I'd gone to college with Jody Powell, Ham Jordan and others, who knew of my ability, and knew that ability counted more than political leaning.  I declined, as political leaning mattered to me.
*  1977-80 - Working for a SC county hospital created by the state legislature, I became a registered lobbyist to support our hospital's interest.  Began a 12-year career as part-time lobbyist and 'grass-roots lobbyist' for the healthcare industry, including frequent trips to DC to see how politics "is made"
*  1978 - Speechwriter for SC Lt. Governor in his bid to become Governor - lost to a Carter Surrogate who later went to DC with Clinton
*  1978 - campaign manager for state assembly; worked strategy and media for successful Re-Elect Representative Floyd Spence (R-SC) Campaign
*  1979 - Led a study group to Canada to take an under-the-hood look at Canadian Healthcare; wrote this up, got it published in industry trade journals, and later testified twice (1979 and 1982) before Congress
*  1980-84 - Worked with Tennessee Hospital Association, providing PR/media/strategy support for lobbying and leading successful annual grass-roots lobbying trips to DC, where I'd write position papers then lead group of constituent hospital executives in meetings with each TN Congressman and Senator
*  1980-84 - I created a national award-winning grass-roots anti-regulation PR/issues-management program that was licensed, ultimately, by 19 other states (it worked in 18 - New Jersey was already regulated beyond hope)
*  1980-84 - Worked closely with Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-TN) on a variety of healthcare-related issues - worked with him not as Tennessee's senator, but as Majority Leader with access to the White House
*  1982-3 - Adjunct Professor, Advanced PR (with focus on issues management), Middle Tennessee State University
*  1982-4 - Wrote and published first two of ten books I've ultimately written and had published on hospital PR, each with strong grass-roots lobbying support elements - one published by the American Hospital Association (AHA)
*  1984 - Named first-ever "Fellow" in PR and Marketing (grass-roots lobbying support) by the American Hospital Association
*  1984-8 - Supported efforts of Florida League of Hospitals and Federation of American Hospitals in their grass-roots lobbying efforts in Florida
*  1990-91 - As first VP Marketing & Fund-Raising for City Hospital in Flint MI, "lobbied" for the hospital locally and in Lansing
*  1992 - Nevada State Media/Strategy Director for Perot For President (I'd read Bush's lips) - stayed with the campaign until he bailed, then joined the other campaign in the same role
*  1992-1994 - Served as Director of Communications for Citizens for Health, and eventually pushed through a bill stripping the FDA of predatory regulatory control of natural herbs and supplements - the "Health Freedom Act" - did this by putting 2,000,000 letters (not emails or faxes, those techs didn't exist widely) on desks of Congressmen within a two-week period.
*  1992-95 - Adjunct Professor of Marketing, Business & Marketing Communications, University of Nevada-Las Vegas - included "reverse-engineering" a presidential speech on campus (or, for those who preferred another candidate, one they watched on TV) to discern the underlying campaign strategy - in essence, taught students how to understand political campaigns
*  1996-2000 - Consultant and grass-roots lobbyist for a 34-group coalition of anti-drug-abuse organizations - met several times with Drug Czar and staff on fighting teen drug abuse - also worked individually with several of those groups - National Families in Action, American Foundation for Drug Prevention, National Drug Prevention League - had on my staff for this effort Reagan's Deputy Drug Czar
* 1996-2008 - On-Call grass roots lobbyist for conservative national causes, such as Citizens for a Sound Economy - in this role, lobbied economic issues before Nevada Congressional Delegation
* 1998 - Managed long-shot campaign for US Senate from Nevada - in this, as other campaigns, I go for the causes and candidates I believe in - winning is important, but there are more important things (to me) than just winning
*  2008 - Using social media and public relations, I successfully positioned myself as a national political commentator for varied media, including Fox (Neil Cavuto x5), Imus, 56 other Radio stations (multiple interviews), and 100-plus print/Internet issues - using my experience and marketing skills, I 'reverse-engineered' political positions, speeches and events, and exposed Obama's real plans (such as his real position on abortion-on-demand as birth control, which Fox later took national)
*  2008-2010 - co-founder and publicity/fund-raising coordinator of a Nevada PAC aimed at unseating Harry Reid
*  2009-2010 - Communications Director, Nevada Republican Party (came in with the Tea Party)
*  2009-2010 - Communications Director, Clark County (Las Vegas) Republican Party - also came in with the Tea Party
*  2009 - 2010 - Consultant for Tea Party Express - created their publication and Internet TV network
*  2006-present - Active political blogger, responsible for "breaking" a number of hidden political stories, which were later picked up by the mainstream media

As I said, that's a lot of nutshell, but if you even skimmed it, you'll know if my advise is worth anything to you.  If it is, c'mon along.