Due to popular demand and repeated requests over the summer months, the Republican Party of Texas organized and hosted a second Campaign Manager School in Austin this September. With over 75 applicants for 25 seats, demand again far outpaced the number of students that we were able to accommodate in this intensive, 3-day training event.
The school began early on Monday morning with an introduction by RPT Executive Director Jesse Lewis, who welcomed students, led some introductions and kicked off the program with a comprehensive presentation on Campaign Plans – essential to the success and preparation for every candidate and campaign organization.
Following Jesse Lewis, students heard from Chris Britton and Luke Marchant of 365Strategies, an Austin-based consulting firm, who talked at length about Managing Resources. Discussed was how best to recognize and plan the resources available in the campaign – a vital skill to every campaign manager.
Jeff Mason, formerly of the RNC, and now with PoliticalForce.com, led students through a presentation of Running a Data Driven Campaign. Jeff laid out key strategies and methods for running a technologically superior and results-oriented campaign that can not only find voters, but knows how to find the voters that can help win the election.
The lunch speaker on the first day was State Representative Geanie Morrison of Victoria. Representative Morrison discussed the Life of a Candidate with students, to help give insights into how to work with and for the candidate in the campaign structure, in order to make it a successful, team-building organization.
After Representative Morrison spoke about the life of a candidate, RPT Communications Director Chris Elam addressed students on how to best Manage Candidates. Elam pointed out that there are many stresses and demands made upon candidates in the course of a campaign and that the best managers will know how to keep their candidate focused on winning votes.
Campaign Ethics and reporting requirements are always a challenge for newcomers to the campaign scene, so attorney Ed Shack joined the agenda in the afternoon to discuss how to maintain accountability and keep in compliance with the campaign finance requirements of the various reporting authorities in state, local and federal government.
This led into afternoon discussions on Fundraising. First up was Aynsley Interiano, who talked with the students about how to organize and be successful with fundraising from Major Donors. Next, RPT Finance Director Keri Mason gave a best practices presentation on Planning Fundraising Events, along with leading an informative Q&A session.
Derek Ryan, of Ryan Data & Research, was up next on the agenda with a thorough look at performing Opposition Research, with a list of best practices, likely avenues for research and fact-finding, and a stern warning to check, double-check and verify all facts available to the campaign about your opponents.
Day Two kicked off with a visit from Mike Walz, from Lt. Governor David Dewhurst's press shop. Earned Media was the topic of the presentation, with some great tips on how to not only get more of it, but how to be prepared to handle the unplanned opportunities that present themselves in the campaign.
Students were then treated to an always fun topic – Social Media, as discussed by Ryan Gravatt of Raconteur Media in Austin. The explosion of growth among Republican candidates and elected officials who have embraced social media has taken root all the way down to the local level in Texas, and Ryan had great tips for students on how to participate.
Nationally recognized Austin pollster Mike Baselice gave students a comprehensive presentation on Polling and Vote Goals, designed to start them thinking of how to get their campaigns focused on counting up and mathematically achieving a winning vote total. He also shared some tremendous insights on current polling data and trends as they pertain to the upcoming 2012 election cycle.
The lunch speaker on Day Two was Houston political consultant Jessica Colon, who talked about the Ground Game and Block Walking. With a litany of tips and tricks on how to effectively lead the face-to-face contact so vital to every campaign, Jessica gave a fantastic presentation that had students filling pages of notes.
Afternoon speakers began with noted Direct Mail expert Todd Olsen, who not only brought samples of political direct mail pieces to share with the students, but some examples of good layout and aesthetics as well. Todd gave students a full list of best practices on how to make direct mail give the best bang for the buck in a campaign of any size.
Vinny Minchillo followed with a discussion on Paid Media, including TV and Radio spots, and brought several examples of work that he had directed and produced in races across America. Creativity, humor, and visual appeal were the themes of all the spots he presented, and he also gave students a thorough understanding of glossary terms and metrics for success in the industry.
John McCord, Regional Director for Congressman Quico Canseco, spoke next about Phone Banking. With a vast amount of experience he earned as a director for the VictoryTexas 2010 organization in central Texas, John gave students a tremendous how-to talk on organizing and running a successful phone bank operation to its fullest extent.
The last speaker of Day Two was RPT State Chairman Steve Munisteri who talked at length about both the challenges and opportunities that face every campaign. From candidate, to staffer, to volunteer – Chairman Munisteri has worked in every facet of campaigns and had an hour discussion with students on simply what works, and what doesn't in every successful campaign organization.
Day Three kicked off with a presentation on Coalitions and Coalition Building from Sarah Floerke, formerly with Governor Perry's office and now serving as Campaign Manager for Attorney General Greg Abbott. Sarah had the students writing down point after point of effective, targeted coalition building techniques for success at campaigns of every level.
Next up was Frank Guerra of the Associated Republicans of Texas, to lead a discussion on Hispanic Outreach and how to be an effective campaigner in the Hispanic communities of Texas. Frank's message was clear – Republicans have a great opportunity to talk directly with Hispanic voters in this state, and as a party, we always perform better when we do!
At the end of Day Three, the students gave small group presentations on an exercise they performed as homework during the school. Each group was tasked with putting together a comprehensive Campaign Plan to demonstrate knowledge and mastery of all of the subjects and topics of presentation during the school. Five teams of five students made presentations on a pre-determined scenario, and each of the groups did a fantastic job.
After three full days, it was Graduation time! And with a final group photograph and distribution of the certificates, RPT staff offered a few parting pieces of advice, and said goodbye to our second class of trained campaign managers. In summary, it was another fantastic program, and we thank all of our presenters and students for their professionalism and participation!
If you are a candidate or campaign who is looking to get in contact with one of the students to discuss hiring them for your campaign, please contact Beth Cubriel, RPT Organization Director at 512-477-9821. We will be happy to get you in touch with students who can help you achieve victory!