Political campaign jobs and the skills they require

November 2, 2017 - 9 minutes read

Building a political campaign is like setting up a house of cards.

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There are a lot of individual units and players who each has a role in keeping the whole thing in place. Much like a card castle, it takes patience and planning to create an election campaign from the ground up. Here, the cards are your campaign workers and supporters. The jobs inside a campaign can be quite varied and require people with different skills. In this post, we look at the common political campaign jobs and the skills needed for filling these roles.
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Campaign manager

Next, to the candidate, the campaign manager is the most important person in a political campaign. The campaign manager controls all aspects of the campaign relieving the candidate to focus on being the face of the campaign. They come up with the strategy along with the other department heads and delegate responsibilities to the other departments. They coordinate the entire campaign as per the campaign plan from fundraising to voter contact. Naturally, this is a top-tier position and requires prior experience inside a campaign.

Fundraising director

This role is for someone who knows the constituency and can supervise the legal side of fundraising. The fundraising director comes up with a donor list based on contributors to past campaigns or other affluent supporters. Then they send donation requests to the voters using different media like direct mail or emails. They also plan fundraising events where they make personal appeals to meet fundraising goals. This means the fundraising director has to have a good standing among the donors. There are also regulatory bodies and watchdog groups keeping an eye on campaign finances so the fundraising director should be familiar with campaign finance law.

Campaign accountant or treasurer

The campaign treasurer prepares the finance compliance reports and keeps track of all money flowing in and out of the campaign. They are responsible for maintaining accounts of fundraising activities and budgets of various campaign spendings. Their main goal is to make sure the campaign is on the right track in financial terms and within legal constraints. This role is for someone who is good with numbers and money management.

Press Secretary

The success of a campaign relies a lot on how the candidate is presented to the voters. The Press Secretary takes charge of the press coverage and public relation effort of the campaign. The role involves quite a bit of public speaking. On top of that, the Press Secretary sets up interviews with the candidate, creates press releases and holds press conferences. They also have to keep note of what the press or social media says about the candidate and the opponents.

Communications Coordinator

From political speeches to anything that the campaign sends out to outside media, the communications coordinator is responsible for the draft. The job covers political and legislative communication, speech writing, campaign and event communication, writing on social media and newsletters. So someone with the writing chops and being able to implement a communication strategy would be a good fit for this role.

Media strategist

This role can be confused with the work of a Press Secretary. In fact, a small campaign for a local election may have one person handling both functions. In a large political campaign, the job of a media strategist is to handle the promotional activities and tackle situations during the course of the campaign. They envision and create print, TV, radio and online ads to present the candidate. This is a job for someone with a media background.

Political consultant

This is yet another important role and we have an entire post covering the different types of political consultants available for hire for different campaigns. Consultants are specialists who craft the campaign message through research on the voter base and demographics. They understand the candidate’s persona and key principles to create a message that would resonate with the voters. They would also advise on how to best use ads to reach out to supporters.

Chief Information Officer

The Chief Information Officer heads the campaign’s tech requirements. They set up the campaign website and control the information database like the voter file. They also pick the tools for activities like phonebanking and online fundraising. In a small-sized campaign, they can even run the social media promotion themselves.

Grassroots Coordinator

The grassroots coordinator oversees all the grassroots efforts of the campaign. This includes voter registration, get out the vote (GOTV), absentee-voter drives and canvassing. They assign responsibilities to field organizers and volunteers on the ground. This position requires someone skilled in organizing and planning.

Field Organizers

Field organizers run the local campaign offices. They train the volunteers, distribute campaign literature, plan canvassing efforts and host neighborhood events for promotion. As the campaign gets underway, they are tasked with voter registration drives and GOTV. On election day, the field organizers are sure voters are turning up at the booths.

Campaign researcher

Researchers lend credibility to the campaign message and speeches. They back up whatever the candidate says with cold data, evidence, and surveys.They also have to be on top of the opponent’s messages and find where the claims made by them could be countered. This is a role for someone who’s knowledgeable on the issues and policies of the election season.

Volunteer coordinator

The volunteer coordinator, as the name suggests, recruits, delegates and organizes the volunteers in the campaign. The volunteers would naturally be the most untrained and new to the campaign scene. The coordinator has to get them to work in sync with the duties and among themselves. They can delegate responsibilities to experienced volunteers and create teams for functions like door-to-door campaigning or putting up yard signs. The volunteer coordinator has to be a people person and good in training unskilled staffers.

Volunteers

This is the entry-level role for anyone interested in working in a political campaign.Being a volunteer means you get to explore first-hand the world of campaigning, play a part in activities like calling voters, asking for funds or setting up events. The work could be in the campaign office or out on the ground. This role has no extra skill requirements, though you could always use your enthusiasm and networking skills to climb up the ladder from here on.

These are not the only jobs in a political campaign. There are several assistant roles like being a communications assistant, a finance assistant or an operations assistant inside every department. In a small election, you can start off with an assigned role even with less experience. All that matter is how interested you are in the work that is handed to you.

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