Candidate Training - Developing and Delivering a Winning Message


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Create a winning campaign message that will captivate audiences and inspire voters.

Learn and do. Run for office with Progressive Majority's help:

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  • Goals for today’s session: Understand what a message is and is NOT Understand how to develop a consistent and compelling message Learn the skills required to successfully implement your campaign’s progressive message
  • Ask yourself some pretty deep questions about why you want to do this.
  • These are the questions we would tell a candidate today to ask themselves and to tell their campaign team so problems can be anticipated and properly addressed. GOOGLE YOURSELF. And if you do have some problems already, you have time to take action to counteract previous actions/mistakes. You can turn negatives into positives (e.g., if arrested, volunteer to mentor youth to help them avoid making your same mistakes).
  • These are two very different audiences. What you say and how you say it will vary greatly by the audience. Understanding the make up of the voting electorate in your community is key.
  • Bottom line piece of advice here is pay attention to the news. And be involved in the community deeply enough that you know a lot of this naturally. Start tracking key news sources, particularly weekly papers, neighborhood blogs, etc.
  • Good for assessing candidate name recognition, perceived strengths and weaknesses in highly competitive races. There are scientific polls that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. There are also more informal methods, like Precision Polling/Survey Monkey. Drew Westen says not to use this to pick your values, but to pick AMONG your values. You should know what you want to talk about, and polling helps you prioritize your message to match the interests of the voters. Also a great way to test messaging already developed.
  • Expensive. Good for highly targeted legislative races and state-wide races, but too much for a local race or non-targeted legislative race.
  • The message box is the most basic side by side comparison of why you should be elected instead of your opponent. Can’t complete until you have an opponent, obviously, but you should at least have the upper left hand box done! Tully Message Box, developed by Democratic Strategist Paul Tully.
  • So this is what we’re looking for in each of those four boxes
  • And here’s the illustration of how it translates.
  • And the structure for your stump speech as well. The more anecdotes, the better, because people remember stories. On the creative solutions, give them HOPE. Remember Harvey Milk! Remember Obama! What is the ask at the end? Vote, money, time, endorsement or all of the above! Your hope is that the person you’re talking to feels an emotional investment in you, eliciting the response “that’s my guy/gal.”
  • You will deliver your message in every aspect of the campaign.
  • So now that you’ve got a message, let’s talk about how to deliver it effectively. (Note: these could also each be translated to their own slide, and have been in previous versions of this presentation) 1. Credibility Identify what skills and experiences you would bring to office and why they make you the best choice for the job. 2. Relevant Identify the issues of concern in your local community, and craft your message to address those issues. Communicate openly about how you will address the voter’s specific concerns. 3. Contrast Tie your positives to your opponent’s negatives. 4. Truth If you lie, it will catch up to you. 5. Simple Use simple language to paint a picture. Keep your message to two or three salient points. 6. Connection People will vote for someone they feel is similar to them. 7. Repeat… Your message should permeate and inform every speech, interview, public appearance, fundraising pitch, phone script, and direct mail piece in your campaign. Voters need to hear your message twelve times before it begins to sink in. If you’re not tired of saying it, you’re not saying it often enough.
  • The best you can hope for is that members of the audience will be able to leave you, and repeat ONE small phrase about why they like you to someone else who hasn’t made up their mind about the election.
  • Interruptions in sound = ah, um, you know, Gestures like: 1. Pointing fingers = hostility 2. Locking your hands in front or in back of you = stiff. 3. Waving your hands wildly = makes people think you want THEM to finish your sentences 4. Crossing your arms in front of you = caution. 5. Self-touching gestures = tension/nervousness 6. Covering your mouth while you’re speaking = can’t hear/understand you.
  • Candidate Training - Developing and Delivering a Winning Message

    1. 1. Developing and Delivering a Winning Message Contact: [email_address]
    2. 2. IT BEGINS WITH YOU <ul><li>Know yourself. </li></ul><ul><li>Formulate your message. </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver your message…EFFECTIVELY! </li></ul>
    3. 3. What is a campaign message?
    4. 4. A message… <ul><ul><li>Conveys the reason you are running. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Illustrates why you are the most qualified candidate. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explains what you will do to improve the lives of those in your community once elected. </li></ul></ul>“ [A message is] a limited body of truthful information which is consistently conveyed by a candidate and an organization in order to provide the persuasive reasons for an audience to choose, and act on behalf of their choice of, our candidate.” — Paul Tully, former director of the Democratic National Committee
    5. 5. A message is not… <ul><ul><li>Your stump speech. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your campaign slogan. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The copy on your website. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Issue or group of issues on which you are running. </li></ul></ul>Your message is the content that is delivered through these methods
    6. 6. The Most Important Rule of an Effective Message <ul><ul><li>It can be repeated, over and over again. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>By you. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>By your volunteers. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>By your supporters. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>By the media. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>By your opponent. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. 1. Start with You. <ul><li>Know yourself. </li></ul><ul><li>The more open you are to the voters, the more open they will be to you. </li></ul><ul><li>Build a sense of confidence and an air of inevitability. </li></ul>
    8. 8. The Political Vision Statement <ul><li>VALUES: What are your core political values?  Who/what are the sources of these values? </li></ul><ul><li>ISSUES: What would you like to accomplish in your political career?  Whose lives would you like to improve?  Why? </li></ul>
    9. 9. Research Yourself <ul><li>Four major personal areas of attack: </li></ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul><ul><li>Business / Employment </li></ul><ul><li>Financial </li></ul><ul><li>Personal </li></ul><ul><li>And don’t forget professional attack: </li></ul><ul><li>Voting record (once elected/appointed) </li></ul>
    10. 10. Research the Opposition <ul><li>Conduct a thorough review of your opponent: </li></ul><ul><li>Bad votes </li></ul><ul><li>Controversial statements </li></ul><ul><li>Issue positions and related campaign contributions </li></ul><ul><li>Absenteeism/voter history </li></ul><ul><li>Inappropriate behavior </li></ul>
    11. 11. 2. Know Your Voters <ul><ul><li>VS. </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Find the Connections <ul><ul><li>Where do your values and your voters’ values coincide? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What can you say that captures their interest? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can you grab their attention….and hold it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What do they need? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What can you offer? </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Polling <ul><ul><li>Baseline polls : conducted at the outset of the campaign to identify the issues that will frame the election and help determine an overall message strategy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tracking polls: build on the initial baseline poll and are conducted later in the campaign, often repeatedly, to monitor the campaign’s progress and identify message modifications that may become necessary. </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Focus Groups <ul><ul><li>Usually two hours. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Structured and moderated discussions among a small group of pre-screened individuals. (Usually likely voters) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Center the discussion around those issues the campaign wishes to explore in detail. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost is between $2,000 and $5,000 each. </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. 3. Possible Messages
    16. 16. The Message Box What our opponent is saying about her/himself What we’re saying about our opponent What our opponent is saying about us What we’re saying about us
    17. 17. Developing a Message Box Strengths Values Interests Weaknesses Vulnerabilities Stereotypes Weaknesses Vulnerabilities Stereotypes Strengths Values Interests
    18. 18. Message Box Illustration
    19. 19. The Structure of an Effective Message* * ™ Jennie Blackton 2009 <ul><ul><li>Why are you running? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What's the problem? Who's hurting? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are your experiences with this problem? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What creative solutions do you offer? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What's standing in the way? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opponent? Apathy? Lack of information?   </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Therefore, what do you want? ASK! </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. 4. Delivering Your Message <ul><ul><li>Literature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct mail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fundraising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Press </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TV </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Radio </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Messengers <ul><ul><li>Establish Your Credibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make it Relevant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Establish Contrast </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tell the Truth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep it Simple </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make a Connection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Repeat, Repeat, Repeat </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Stump speech – tips for writing* <ul><li>Write in phrases that are easy to understand by regular folk. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions of the audience to keep them involved. </li></ul><ul><li>No policy-wonk talk. </li></ul><ul><li>Write paragraphs on one subject that can be excerpted for a specific audience, and drop them for another. </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure your staff, your volunteers, your phone bankers, your precinct walkers are all on the same message. </li></ul><ul><li>Practice your speech until you know it by heart. If your staff isn’t sick of hearing it, you’re not saying it enough. </li></ul>* ™ Jennie Blackton 2009
    23. 23. Stump Speech Delivery Do’s* <ul><li>Be respectful </li></ul><ul><li>Act with professional passion </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver our message </li></ul><ul><li>Stay on the subject; say “lets go back to the subject at hand” </li></ul><ul><li>Talk to the audience </li></ul><ul><li>Put your mic below your chin </li></ul><ul><li>Spray glasses with non-glare spray </li></ul><ul><li>Look and speak to the camera </li></ul><ul><li>Wear more solid colors </li></ul>* ™ Jennie Blackton 2009
    24. 24. Stump Speech Delivery Don’ts* <ul><li>Veer off the subject listed on the agenda </li></ul><ul><li>Address their message (but you can correct misinformation) </li></ul><ul><li>Allow constant interruptions in sound </li></ul><ul><li>Talk too fast, too slow, or too softly </li></ul><ul><li>Take nervous, gasping breaths </li></ul><ul><li>Mumble or allow our voice to become shrill </li></ul><ul><li>Speak in monotone </li></ul><ul><li>Use gestures that send the wrong message </li></ul>* ™ Jennie Blackton 2009
    25. 25. Contact: Progressive Majority www. progressivemajority .org