Pathway to Victory: Common Campaign Pitfalls

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Now that you’re acquainted with our Campaign Dos, we have some more advice to share with you — the don’ts. Familiarizing yourself with these common mistakes will help your campaign avoid the same pitfalls. We are all human and bound to make mistakes, but the important thing is how we learn for the future.

We’re sharing a few of the tips you’ll find in 101 Steps to Victory: A How-To Guide for First-Time Political Candidates. This free e-book outlines the 101 most important things a first-time candidate needs to know to keep their campaign on the path to victory. And check back with the SpeakEasier blog in the days and weeks ahead for more of our 101 Steps to Victory.

Four things to never do. Seriously — never do these things. 

  1. Don’t drink too much at campaign events. Try to not drink at campaign events at all. Come on — you’re at work. Do you drink at work? Instead, have a glass of water nearby for when you inevitably need to clear your throat. 
  2. Do not have a romantic relationship with anyone on your campaign. Do we even have to say it? Yes we do, because it happens all the time. And it frequently ends badly. If you are actually in love, ask them out at the victory party and it’ll make for a great story.
  3. Don’t ever link anything anyone gives you or does for you to something you will do in office. That is unethical. That is illegal. Just don’t do it.
  4. Don’t steal your opponent’s lawn signs. You are laughing now, but remember this on that October night when you really want to. Everyone is at home nowadays anyway and you will likely get caught on camera. 

Don’t get angry, don’t get angry — never let anyone see you get angry. 

Campaigns can be incredibly stressful, and many high-achieving people who are now outside of their comfort zone can feel the stress even more. So make a hard and fast rule — don’t let stress turn you into “that candidate” — the one who yells at people. It might make you feel better for a moment, but it doesn’t work to motivate those around you when you are yelling. Good leaders are able to stay positive and inspire others, even when they are at their lowest.

Should I put flyers on people’s car windows?  

No. You should not. Littering is not campaigning. If you knock on a door and the voter isn’t home, it is fine to leave something behind but you should secure it so it doesn’t blow away. Some campaigns print “door hangers” that have a cut that allows them to hang on doors securely. Some place them right under a door mat while others punch holes in existing flyers and secure them with rubber bands. But whatever you do, make sure they are secure and not all over the streets. Nobody wants to vote for someone who is littering.

If you’re looking to print door hangers, you can use the SpeakEasy template!

Give the sarcasm a rest.  

No candidate really gets it right. If your humor tends to come off sarcastically, work on some new jokes.

On the subject of humor, all jokes now need to be at your own expense. 

Seriously, don’t make fun of people. They will remember and they will get even. This is a good time to remember that some people are starting to say to themselves “Who does he think he is?” You are not one of the guys anymore. Work hard to make friends and consider the feelings of people around you.

Don’t ever, ever, ever contradict yourself or parse so much that an average person thinks you are contradicting yourself.  

If you are pro-choice, say so in plain language and a respectful way — even if your audience opposes your view. Humans are hard-wired to agree with each other face-to-face. So it is very easy to slip into changing what you say situationally. It might work at family reunions. It does not work in campaigns.

PRO TIP: Want to make a friend in politics? Ask someone what they think! Experts and voters like to be consulted. Becoming a good listener is a great skill to develop.

Looking for more information about what it takes to run for office? Download our e-book designed to walk candidates through the process of running – and winning – their first political campaign. And be sure to check out more from our Pathway to Victory series!

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