Who Now? The Importance of Name Recognition

 

Over the course of a campaign, volunteers and staffers alike spend hundreds of working hours pounding the pavement. They knock on doors, talk over voter outreach tables, and even make cold calls to people who are more likely to hang up than listen beyond that first hopeful greeting. It’s exhausting, stressful, and difficult work – and for many volunteers, utterly worth the trouble.

 

Most campaign workers don’t take up their roles for the pay and an extra line on their resumes; they sign on because they truly believe in a candidate’s values and leadership potential. With such a focus on reaching potential voters, the last thing that an exhausted, optimistic campaign worker wants to hear after floating their candidate’s name to a voter is: Who? Never heard of them.

 

Name recognition matters, and any candidate worth their campaign pin knows that they can’t afford to dismiss it. It sounds intuitive: voters trust those they find familiar. According to a 2011 study conducted by researchers at Princeton University, voters who enter the voting booth without a significant understanding of how candidates’ positions align with their own are more likely to opt for the most familiar name. Think about that for a moment – in a community of less- or moderately-involved voters, a greater awareness of a name could actually define the outcome of an election.   

 

That said, this finding hinges on the assumption that voters won’t do their research before heading to the ballot box. Let’s consider the issue optimistically, and ask – does the value of name recognition still hold true if voters are engaged?

 

The short answer is yes – but not in the same way. The ideal voter does their homework, and moves towards the candidate whose positions align well with their own; but at the end of the day, they choose a person, not a laundry list of political issues. Generally, people tend to vote for people they feel they know – and for some, “knowing” a candidate can be as simple as exchanging a smile or handshake after a speech. Name recognition goes beyond simply recognizing the name, and becomes a recognition of the person and personality behind the name. It’s difficult to put faith in a distant persona; voters gravitate to those they feel they have connected with. Thus, name recognition opens the door to voter trust.

 

With this in mind, it’s easy to see that the work those tireless campaign staffers do is vital to creating a healthy campaign. At its core, political elections are human efforts – it isn’t enough to just push an agenda or position. Campaigns also need to focus on helping voters connect to the person behind the name; to trust that the candidate they vote for will represent them well.

Office Talk: 8 Key Roles in a Campaign Office

A campaign is often defined by a single person – but it takes the help of considerably more to run well. Depending on the size of the effort, campaign staff sizes can vary from a few dozen to a few thousand paid and volunteer workers. Successful political campaigns rely on the dedication and effort provided by their workers. However, even the most eager staff needs leadership to function effectively; rampant disorganization can tank a campaign effort just as quickly as a painful media misstep. The following are a few of the most vital managing positions necessary to build a strong, effective campaign office.

 

Campaign Manager

The best campaign manager acts as the glue that holds the various pieces of the campaign together. Anyone who takes on the job must be able to juggle responsibilities under pressure; tasked as they are with managing day-to-day operations, hiring, communicating with the candidate, and implementing fundraising efforts, a campaign manager can’t afford to be disorganized. Excellent interpersonal skills and charisma are a must.

 

Communications Director

A person in this position must feel comfortable around the press. A campaign’s communications director is responsible for building a positive relationship with the media, drafting campaign communications and literature, and establishing press opportunities for the candidate. Ideally, a director will already have a significant number of media connections that they can use to further the campaign’s reach.

 

Fundraising Director

A campaign needs money to make progress – and the Fundraising Director is responsible for making sure that it never grinds to a halt. A staffer in this role must prepare and oversee all fundraising events, and make sure that the candidate is meeting their fundraising goals.

 

Field Director

A person in this position is responsible for organizing direct voter contact and outreach efforts. They must develop an effective strategy for identifying and convincing undecided voters to cast ballots for their candidate. A person selected for this role must be high-energy, and able to effectively organize volunteers, staff, and tremendous amounts of data on a daily basis.

 

Legal Advisor

A campaign’s legal advisor makes certain that the campaign is safely within legal bounds at all times.

 

Political Director

The ideal political director seeks to communicate positively with a diverse array of constituencies, as well as to forge relationships with the organizations which represent them. Additionally, they must work in tandem with the field director to build and implement outreach plans with the goal of expanding a candidate’s support base.

 

Scheduler

A candidate’s schedule is demanding, and can be chaotic if improperly handled. The campaign’s scheduler is tasked with ensuring the candidate is briefed and ready for events, and is further responsible for accepting, declining, and seeking out potential appearance opportunities.

 

Office Manager

There’s no avoiding it – campaigns can be hectic. The Office Manager is responsible for making sure that the office itself is well-run even as the campaign erupts into freneticism. The staffer appointed to this position makes sure that the office is well-staffed, supplied, and organized on a day-to-day basis.
These are only a few of the many positions required for a smoothly-run campaign; but without even one of these leaders, even the most well-meant efforts would undoubtedly fall into disorganized chaos. Maintaining excellent leadership, dedication, and organization is key to successful political efforts.

Office Talk: Qualities to Look for in Potential Campaign Staffers

 

Building a campaign team is no small feat. Finding the right people to fill vital roles can be one of the hardest parts of setting up a campaign office; those you hire will have to be prepared to handle the fast-paced schedule and occasionally exhaustive work required to keep the movement organized and on-track. It’s often difficult to gauge whether an interviewee is up to the job they applied for – but they need to display a few basic qualities to pass muster.

 

Tenacity

Campaign staffer can’t wilt at hard work. The jobs in a campaign office often entail long hours, hard work, and sharp deadlines. Those expecting to work a set schedule and take frequent social media breaks will have to look elsewhere for a job. The ideal candidate will understand that the job requires a wholehearted commitment, and will hold steady through the period of the campaign.

 

Flexibility

Even the most organized campaign requires a great deal of flexibility from its staffers. The job often requires travel and late nights. Applicants should know that working a second job or attempting to stick to a set schedule will most likely fall to pieces within a week. Recruiters need to through sort their applicants for people who can commit and have flexible enough schedules to work with a campaign’s intense scheduling needs.

 

Creativity

The best campaign staffers are those who can think outside the box and be creative under pressure. Sometimes, new ideas are just the thing to jumpstart a  static strategy and put new life into engagement efforts. Managers should look for staffers who can be thoughtful and innovative while working productively within the campaign’s organizational structure.

 

Intelligence

Staffers must be intelligent, have excellent instincts, and possess the requisite technical and interpersonal skills for their position. The ideal candidate is able to juggle their responsibilities with poise, intelligence, and charisma, and work productively within the team. The best staffers will face problems rationally, and offer methodical solutions in a timely manner. Moreover, their emotional intelligence must be as sharp as their book smarts; given the interpersonal nature of the job, staffer will often need to engage productively with stressed staffers, argumentative community members, and alert reporters.

 

There’s no doubt about it – picking the right people for positions in a campaign office is difficult. But campaign managers who put in the extra effort to build a strong team will find their work rewarded with a better-organized and more productive office.