10 Tips for Running a Political Campaign

The results are in! After a week of canvassing, the votes have been tallied and the London Youth Advisory Council has its councilors for the 2016–2017 session. Everybody did a great job, and several of the wards were quite close. As we think back on the campaign, there’s more to it than just the numbers. There are stories, too. As part of the LYAC’s 2016 Candidate Training day, everyone was given sticky notes and Sharpies to keep track of ideas that caught their attention or that they wished they’d had a chance to share. 41 sticky notes later, we had all kinds of tips and encouragement for candidates. Here are the top 10 things to keep in mind during an election (and beyond):

1. “Follow your fears.” Try new things, have new experiences.

2. “Just being a candidate is a platform to create change.” Whether or not you receive the most votes, you’ll have the chance to talk to people about the things that matter to you, and the platform to share your ideas.

3. “Politics means something different for everyone, so we all have the ability to be engaged in politics.” This can be useful to remember if you start to doubt yourself, and it can help you reach out to people who might not identify themselves as people who are interested in politics.

4. “Nothing wrong with the selfish reason of developing yourself.” Don’t ever feel like there’s something wrong with wanting new experiences for yourself. This is a great opportunity to network and learn new skills, and you should absolutely take advantage of that.

5. “Think through who you see in a day. Each one of them has a network attached based on their jobs and interests and hobbies. Reach out to those people who represent each of their networks.”

7. “When canvassing, it is a chance for people to tell you what they think and so it gets you thinking of opinions you want to represent.” If even if you don’t end up with the most votes, hearing different ideas might inspire you to look for more opportunities to be involved in your community.

6. Social media as less effective than door to door canvassing: “Seize the day, in person.” Use paper ballots and laptops to get votes at the door. Even if you give someone the link to vote online, they may forget once you’re gone (and don’t forget to remind them to click the verification link).

8. Awkward situations: “I try to avoid them.” Write yourself an elevator pitch to let people know what the LYAC is and why you’re speaking with them. Practice this, and you’ll feel much more confident when canvassing. Bonus points if you also prep answers to some of the more common questions.

9. Don’t run if you can’t commit: you’ll miss out, and you’ll stop someone else from having the experience. Really look at your schedule, and make sure that you’ll be able to attend meetings and get the most out of the experience.

10. “You can make the world a better place by just being yourself!”

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