Two weeks ago, I had the honor of taking part in a League of Women Voters Newton panel called “Don’t Just Stand There….RUN!” which offered advice to our candidates.
The event was similar to another LWVN panel I also had a chance to join held earlier this year, but before the Charter Commission initiative was on the ballot so quite a few folks missed it.
Since then, I’ve had requests from some candidates who were unable to attend to share my presentations. I finally got around to putting together my notes late last week and rather than emailing them, I’ve decided to post it here.
As with everything else on this blog: No need to agree with me on these, but here goes.
Twenty-five tips for running a successful campaign
Five tips for appearing on NewTV
- Don’t take NewTV for granted, they will give voters the best unfiltered view of you. Practice being comfortable on camera. Have someone video so you can see how you will look.
- Don’t wear white on TV. Don’t wear busy patterned clothing. Don’t grip the podium. Listen or at least pretend to be interested in what your opponent has to say.
- This is not torture. Look relaxed. Tell yourself you belong here. Don’t ramble. Don’t feel you need to speak for the full time you’ve been allotted.
- If your NewTV segments go well you will have a good clip that’s not just seen on NewTV but that you can embed on your website, Facebook, etc.
- If it goes bad, you will have a clip that your opponents will happily share.
Five tips for talking to the Newton TAB & Globe West
- Recognize how hard and overworked reporters are. Call them back right away. Respect and know their deadlines.
- Before talking to any reporter, know what you’re going to say ahead of time and what you want your message to be. Stay on message.
- You are always on the record, unless the reporter agrees in advance. Reporters are under no obligation to honor a request to have something be “off the record” after you’ve already said it.
- Be sure and review the deadlines and restrictions editor Andy Levin has announced for editorials, op-eds, endorsement and letters. Take advantage of all opportunities.
- Globe West’s news hole has been reduced substantially of late so you’re going to need to make news to be in the news. Reporter Ellen Ishkanian is a really thoughtful person, she loves politics, find an excuse to meet her, even if she’s not writing about your contest.
Five tips for participating on blogs and social media
- The most important thing to know about blogs is that they have many more readers than participants. When you are writing, always keep in mind the larger audience, even if you are responding to just one person.
- Also remember that Village 14 and TAB Blog readers are not possible voters, they will vote so blogs really are worth paying attention to.
- Don’t be the kind of person who only comments when someone writes about you. Let folks get to know you. Join non-controversial blog discussions to get your blogging feet wet so if you ever have to comment on something more controversial, you’re not a blogging virgin.
- When the discussion is about you or your contest, weigh in thoughtfully. Don’t feel you always need to respond. And when you do comment, don’t get defensive.
- Just as you should ask friends and supporters to write letters to the TAB, organize a few folks to say something nice about you on the blog — and to defend you when needed.
Ten general campaign tips
- At some point local elections get nasty. It’s unfortunate but they always do. Don’t take things people say about you personally.
- If you do take things personally, don’t show it.
- Be visible. Smile. Wear cheerful, energetic colors. Spell check your campaign literature.
- Act like you like your opponent(s), even if you don’t. Otherwise you will come off looking petty. Plus you’ll never know when you might need that person or their supporters to support something you’d like to accomplish in the future.
- Consider endorsements carefully. Sometimes it’s better to have no endorsements, rather than being aligned with a controversial person or group.
- Don’t allow it to ruin your day if your lawn signs disappear. It happens. Just move on.
- Avoid spending all your time talking to decided voters. Candidate debates and forums are important but most voters at those events have already know who they will vote for. Get out and meet voters at other places.
- Have a web site. But only have a campaign Facebook page or Twitter feed if you’re committed to using it.
- Have a good headshot. Spend money on this if necessary.
- And have fun. Running for office – and holding office for that matter — can sometimes feel like a thankless task. Remind yourself that you are doing this because you want to contribute to making our community a better place.
Greg Reibman is president of the Newton-Needham Chamber and a founder and blogger at Village 14. He was formerly publisher and editor at the Newton TAB and Vice President of Content and Partnerships at GateHouse Media and was editorial director for a series of programs on the 2012 presidential primaries for the PBS World Channel. He is a member of the board of directors at NewTV and lives in the Highlands.