The online elements of a political campaign require curation and management but – whatever your skills and aptitudes with digital tools – it’s going to be too much work for you, the candidate, to manage. A modern campaign needs a digital campaign manager and, as more and more voters are reached via digital means, the position is crucial to the success or failure of a candidate’s run for office.
Before hiring a digital campaign manager, however, there are a few things you’ll need to get straight. Many resumes look impressive on the surface and cutting through the jargon can take a little work. Once you narrow your pile of candidates to the best few, it’s time for the interview and it’s here you’ll separate the digital wheat from the digital chaff.
Want to ensure you hire the very best person for your team? Here’s what to ask and what to look for.
They Know How to Listen to Others
To an amateur politics is all about talking: giving speeches, making public pronouncements, and offering statements to the press.
But to a professional politics is about communication, and that means listening as well as talking. The best digital campaign managers will be keen to reach out to voters to find out what they think and feel. They will follow up on replies to tweets, Facebook comments, and emails with real concerns.
In your interview look for someone who listens to the questions you ask, answers them fully, and asks for clarification if they need it. If they are ready to listen to you and express a desire to listen to others, you’ll be on the right track.
They Know How To Spend Money Effectively Online
Few campaigns have the resources to waste money, online or offline. Every dollar invested in the pursuit of support needs to be spent effectively and this means your online efforts need to pay you back with real votes.
The problem is there is so much that is shiny and new online and begging for your campaign dollars. The latest thing, the newest website, a great new social network – all these demand investment and it’s your digital campaign manager who will have to make the call on where to put that money.
Your should make sure to ask questions about where your online spending should be centered, and what sort of returns you can expect. Make sure that the answers that you are getting in return include a comprehension of the realities of a limited budget and a focus on maximizing your return on investment.
They Know How To Be Honest With You
Any digital campaign manager worth their salt is going to have assessed your online and social media presence before arriving for the interview. They’ll have a good idea of where you are currently strong and where you can improve – so ask them.
Assessing your online presence and auditing the current state of your digital campaign is going to take more than a couple of minutes in an interview to do correctly and in full. What you are looking for, though, is a candidate for the digital campaign manager position who can tell you clearly and honestly where you need to improve.
Be wary of candidates who tell you that everything is fine and that they are just going to continue in the same direction that you’ve set out in. After all, if things were good and manageable, why would you be looking for an expert to join your team? Also avoid candidates who want to remake the entire online platform in the style of another, more successful candidate: this is your campaign, not someone else’s.
Look for someone who can point to the good points, the flaws, and provide clear, practical suggestions to improve immediately even before a deeper audit is undertaken once the hiring process is complete.
They Know Who You’re Up Against
Knowing something about your campaign is something that you’re going to expect from every candidate for the job.
But knowing something about the campaigns opposing yours is something that your online team leader needs to have down even before getting to work.
In your interview don’t just ask for feedback on your own efforts to this point – get some feedback on your rivals, too. The person sitting opposite you is a professional and will have insights into the quality of the competition that you are facing. Ask them about rival social media efforts, the sorts of online video advertisements that your rivals have produced, and the landing pages and fundraising efforts of your rivals online.
The online landscape is a battlefield of sorts and your digital campaign manager will have to be able to provide a good overview of that battlefield in their first days on the job. If they arrive at the interview already prepared to do this, all the better.
They Think Further Than The Campaign
Sure, your team is going to be working hard to get you elected.
But what about after that?
Serving as an elected official means serving the voters who put you there. Your digital campaign manager might not necessarily be interested in working with you once you start to serve – many political junkies prefer the fight of the campaign to the day in, day out service of office – but they will be ready to help you serve.
Ask about ways in which the information that the digital team gathers during the campaign might be used to good effect once the campaign is over. Question your candidate on what digital marketing strategies might be applied in office as opposed to on the campaign trail.
You’re looking for responses that suggest your digital marketing guru can think further than the campaign – just like you.
Their Values Align With Yours
You’re going to be working very closely with your digital campaign manager in the months to come. You’ll be trusting them to manage your online platform, respond to voters on social media and by email, and to be the digital voice of your campaign.
The only way you’ll be able to truly trust your digital team leader is if your values align with theirs (or more precisely, that their values align with yours and those of your campaign).
Make sure you spend time in your interview talking about ethics, values, and expectations for the campaign. Make sure you’ll feel comfortable having this person speak on your behalf, booking advertising on your behalf, and being your digital voice.
You’ll judge this partly on gut feeling, of course, but a few pointed questions or hypotheticals might allow you to nail this down for sure.
This week DOZ is exploring the nexus between marketing and politics, with a particular emphasis on political campaigning online. Click through everyday as we look at the way the internet has changed political campaigning, the key points that a politician needs to get straight with their campaign manager, the importance of social media to online campaigns, and five times that the internet played a big role in a political story.
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