The Republican Party of Texas hosted another successful Campaign Management School last month in Austin from June 17-19. We had a full class of 26 aspiring campaign managers hear from 20 different speakers on everything from how to put together a campaign budget to developing a social media outreach plan. The RPT deliberately keeps the class size small to allow for better interaction between students and presenters. Because of the popularity of the program – we were not able to seat every qualified applicant who applied – and because of the great reviews received from those who did attend, the RPT will be hosting a second school this fall. If you missed this program, follow your emails as we will be announcing those details soon.
Day 1 began with a presentation on developing a campaign plan from Mia Garza McCord, Chief of Staff for State Senator Kelly Hancock. She gave a very informative speech on the importance of creating the campaign’s budget, messaging, fundraising, and more. Mia served as Campaign Manager for Congressman Lamar Smith in 2010 and the campaign to elect State Senator Kelly Hancock in 2012. The next presentation was by Political Consultant Luke Marchant from 365 Strategies. He gave a detailed breakdown on how to budget not only the campaign’s finances, but also the valuable assets of time and people.
As President Obama’s last two elections have proven, social media is very much an integral part of any campaign’s success. At this year’s school we heard from Founder and CEO of Harris Media, Vincent Harris. Vincent is a leader and innovator in the use of social media in politics and spoke on the importance of using social media and the internet to your advantage in an age where almost everyone looks at the internet on multiple devices throughout the day.Matt Brownfield of Murphy Nasica then gave a presentation on how to reach voters through block walking and provided helpful tips for ensuring an effective block walk program.
Following the block walking presentation, Texas State Representative Craig Goldman led a conversation focusing on the campaign from the candidate’s perspective. Rep. Goldman was able to draw on his experiences as both a candidate and a campaign manager. RPT Communications Director Spencer Yeldell then spoke on conducting a successful phone bank. He highlighted the different resources available for recruiting volunteers as well as best practices for managing the phone bank and volunteers in the office.
Keri Mason, Finance Director for the Republican Party of Texas, than gave part one of a two part presentation on fundraising. Part one of her presentation focused on the different types of fundraising available to campaigns and how to develop a finance plan. Speaking on earned media was John Drogin, State Director for Senator Ted Cruz. He discussed the proper ways to use earned media in an age of growing use of social media and online advertising. Wrapping up day one of the school was a presentation on the use of direct mail by campaign consultant and speechwriter Eric Bearse. Eric was able to pull from his vast experience working for candidates at every level of the ballot, including Presidential, to provide examples of what works – and what doesn’t work – in direct mail targeting and messaging.
Day 2 began with a presentation on campaign ethics by Donna Davidson, who is well respected for her expertise in ethics with over three decades of legislative experience in the state’s capitol. Donna gave our campaign workers some practical advice for ensuring their campaigns are complying with Texas campaign ethics laws and also provided fair warning that what might be legal may not always be the right decision for a campaign. Following the ethics presentation was Marc DelSignore, founder of Perception Insight. He discussed the different types of polling for a political campaign and how to use that data to define the candidate’s message as well as your opponent.
The next presentation was by former Director of Targeting and Voter Contact for the RNC and current President of Stratified Data, Jeff Mason, on how to run a data driven campaign. He pressed on the importance of having good data to effectively target your message and motivate voters. He also discussed all of the different pieces that make up a complete data driven campaign for defining your voter contact universe.
Political consultant Jessica Colon gave a presentation on how to best manage the candidate’s time between the campaign, work (if they have another career), and family. Colon has over 20 years of experience in politics and campaigning and shared her insights on how to find the best balance between your candidate’s time with the campaign while and fulfilling any obligations with family and work. Following Jessica was Phil Coppage, Director of Political Technology for the RNC, giving a brief training session on the RNC’s voter database, GOP Data Center. He showed the school’s attendees what data is currently available for their campaigns and how it can be used to better target the voters in their districts.
RPT Finance Director, Keri Mason, spoke next finishing up her presentation on fundraising. In part two of her presentation she addressed the kind of people that you should target for fundraising as well as how to host a successful fundraiser. Following Keri was a presentation on research from Derek Ryan, founder of Ryan Data and Research. Derek informed the class how essential opposition research, as well as researching your own candidate, is to developing your campaign strategy because negative information about both candidates always comes out at some point during an election and you must be prepared. Following Derek was political consultant Josh Robinson to wrap up day two with a presentation on TV ads. Josh provided our attendees with great advice for not getting ripped off by your media consultant in addition to providing great examples of what makes an effective, and not so effective, TV ad.
The third and final day started with a presentation on coalitions by David White. Volunteers are the backbone of any successful campaign and David has been at the forefront of volunteer recruitment and coalition building for years. He discussed his experiences recruiting volunteers from practically every active Republican organization in Texas and provided a lot of helpful information on which groups provide great volunteer labor and which groups are good for endorsements. The Hispanic population in Texas continues to grow exponentially year after year and engaging with Hispanic communities in your district is absolutely essential for your campaign to win. David Zapata, Hispanic Outreach Director for the RPT, has been instrumental in the RPT’s newest Hispanic outreach efforts across the state and wrapped up the presentations to the 2013 Campaign Management School with a very detailed presentation looking at the major demographic changes in the state of Texas over the past 20 years. He spoke about what the RPT is doing to ramp up engagement efforts with Hispanics and urged the future campaign managers in the school to make outreach to these communities a priority in the upcoming elections.
At the end of Day one the class was broken into five groups and given projects to work on over the course of the three-day school. Groups were given a real district in Texas and tasked with creating an entire campaign plan on how to win that district. The project demanded that the students come up with a budget for their campaign, including a breakdown of expenses for each component of a campaign, including media, mail, overhead and volunteer efforts. The groups also had to set realistic fundraising goals to pay for their budget. The project required the students to demonstrate a full understanding of running a political campaign and required that the groups work late into the night perfecting their pitches. Upon the conclusion of the presentations on day three the group presented their plans to the class followed by some final thoughts and suggestions by the RPT staff. All of the groups did an amazing job on their projects and we are confident that future campaigns managed by these students are in very good hands.
The RPT congratulates all of the students that attended the first Campaign Management School of 2013 for an outstanding job and we wish each one of them the best of luck on their next campaign. The RPT also thanks all of the presenters that took time out of their schedule to come share their knowledge to the future of campaign management in the state of Texas, as well as Murphy Nasica, Caddo Associates, Najvar Law Firm, and Red Curve Solutions for helping to sponsor the program.
Details on the next RPT Campaign Manager School will be announced by late summer.