By Wes, and The Donehue Direct Team
Campaign life is a zoo. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different.
Sleep becomes a foreign word a month leading into the election, and by the time victory is celebrated, or escapes your efforts, Starbucks has covered their operating expenses for the next three years.
One of the scariest aspects of campaign life is that a new form of management has emerged in the past two to three cycles – it’s unstudied, largely unseen as different, and draws heavily on the communications breakthroughs of the past decade.
Let’s call it the tech campaign, for all practical purposes.
Mobile technology has changed the ways in which we work and live and will undoubtedly revolutionize the American campaign. Twitter is a 24/7 press conference requiring constant monitoring. Issues aren’t brought up in the standard news cycle anymore – some troll could uncover something at 2 a.m. just as well as at 8 a.m. It’s changing the workday and changing the lives of campaign staffers.
But what does it mean?
Human Resources scholars have put these factors into the business context, and they say it isn’t healthy. Constant contact, increased workload, and emails have blurred the divide between professional life and personal life – in doing so, one’s “role” has become blurred. This is shown to decrease productivity, creativity, and focus. Technology is making people less happier in their work environments, and in the macro it’s making companies suffer.
For your campaign, think of it as a business. These trends will be magnified in the political arena because of the time sensitive nature of the campaign, the 18 hour workday, the fact that your staff will probably spend their weekends canvassing in Bumpkinville, miles away from the nearest bar, and that for a good while life will BE the campaign.
Why not take some steps to create some comforts?
When it comes to staff, don’t be stingy. Make sure the campaign offers a home-like feel. Staffers know that pay won’t make them millionaires immediately, but they aren’t doing it for that purpose. They do want to feel like they are part of a team, and that the team is looking out for them and their interests.
When the staffers are up pulling data all night long, cater a breakfast for them the next morning. If you’ve got a small staff, everyone loves some homemade biscuits and gravy- doesn’t have to be the works, but it goes a long way. If there’s a campaign office, get some comfortable couches – sleepers, even. If you’ve got a DVD player around with Season 2 of The Office, that might take the edge off for 30 minutes at a time. Also, we won’t encourage irresponsibility, but having a drink before you leave work might help take the edge – and burdens – off.
In running your campaign, think of your staff as human capital and not as resources. Resources are used, while capital is grown.
When it comes down to facing the public and getting out the vote, think: Do you want believable, cheery, convincing staff who seem to believe the message that they pitch? Or do you want staff that is obviously tired, stressed, and seems itching to pack up and go? These resources are the face of your campaign and we suggest investing in them just as much as you’d invest in mailers and buttons.
Think of those implications when you’re setting up your campaign staffing. A happy, focused staff is functional, efficient and productive. Keep them focused on the mission by creating times where they’re fully unfocused. The results will astound you.