by Rick Montaine
Congratulations! You’re a Candidate. You’ve got a great platform, a speech, a suit, and now I’d like to help you get some great action photos, too.
Before You’re Introduced
In “campaign school”, you were taught many strategies to support your run for office including how to dress for success and that you need at least two introductory speakers before you are called upon to give your excellent well-prepared, prepped, and practiced –probably without a political photographer present-speech. The first speaker is often a local supporter, with whom hopefully everyone in the room is familiar. This speaker will give a passionate speech on why he or she thinks you are the best candidate for the position including a supportive history of your involvement in the community, and why everyone needs to remember to cast a vote for you on Election Day. The second speaker is the “attacker” of your opponent. This “attacker” educates the crowd on all the negatives about your opponent. Finally, it is your chance to step up to the front of the room as the third speaker. As the candidate, you are the sales guy or gal. The goal is to win over the hearts of those in attendance on your top three issues. Obviously, your speech is enthusiastic, positive, and uplifting, but probably left out some choreography which could potentially get you and the political photographer present a few great photos.
by Ron Nehring
We’ve all been forced to sit through them, like high school detention with a speaker: a poorly run panel discussion at a meeting, training or conference. Like everything else in life, there are many wrong ways, and a few right ways, to build a successful panel discussion that holds audience attention and actually contributes to accomplishing the event’s goals.
A panel discussion is an opportunity to bring together several different speakers on a common topic and provide the audience with the benefit of the interaction between the speakers. When Walt Mossberg brought together Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for a two-person “panel” at a 2007 conference, audience attention was driven by the interaction between the two technology leaders. Six years later, more the video of the event has been viewed more than 6 million times.
There are at least four keys to a successful panel discussion.
by Ron Nehring
News organizations are increasingly using Skype to conduct live, on-air interviews with guests. It’s a result of reduced newsroom budgets on the one hand, and the spread of high speed internet and more powerful computers to just about everyone.
Unfortunately, it looks like some guests being interviewed via Skype on their laptop have not bothered to watch themselves afterward. Too often, bad logistics makes the interview look cheesy and second rate.
It’s critical for guests to ensure the viewer is focused on what he or she is saying and not be distracted by the image on the screen. Here are eight tips to help you keep viewers focused on what you’re saying.
Ditch the headphones, this isn’t the subway. Those white Apple headphones with built in microphone might make you look cool, but on television they look ridiculous. Buy yourself a black Radio Shack clip on microphone for $32.99 and keep it in your laptop bag. Before your interview, connect it to your laptop’s microphone jack and run the wire so it can’t be seen, such as under your shirt or jacket. Clip it to a dark article of clothing (such as your jacket) so it’s less visible to viewers. No, don’t put this off. Here’s a link to the microphone. Shipping is free.
No one wants you looking down to them, so set your camera at eye level. Setting your laptop on your desk and tilting the screen up so it’s looking up your nose is about as helpful as wearing a sign that reads “amateur.” Set the laptop on a few books to raise it to your eye level. The screen (assuming the camera is mounted to it) should be at exactly 90 degrees to the desk.
President Obama’s strategy is clear: focus on winning control of the House for Democrats so he can have the unified control of government he needs to write his legacy in his final two years, as he did in his first.
Republicans today hold a 17 seat House majority, and a review of how House races are shaping up suggests the President is unlikely to get his wish.
To return Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker’s Chair requires a switch of 17 seats in addition to Democrats holding every seat they now occupy, including several in California they barely took from the GOP in 2012. That’s an extraordinarily steep hill to climb.
by Ron Nehring
Political candidates and party officials rarely choose campaign themes purely out of philosophical interests. In the midst of a contested election, campaigns invest heavily in researching and testing messages to gain maximum advantage at the expense of the opposition.
The Democrats’ 2012 “war on women” theme used against Republicans was not chosen by accident or merely out of a desire to satisfy feminists in the Democrat Party leadership. It was a deliberate choice to maximize the Democrats’ advantage among women while exploiting a glaring vulnerability among Republicans, whose traditional support for life and religious liberty is often cast as “anti-women.”
Republican candidates and activists can complain about how this theme was “unfair,” but while our team was complaining, Barack Obama racked up the biggest gender advantage in Presidential contests going back at least to 1952. While Mitt Romney won among men by 8 points, Obama won among women by 12.
The “war on women” theme was rooted in Republican policy positions, and bound together House Republican opposition to Obamacare mandates that religious employers pay for contraception coverage, efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and state-level efforts to restrict abortion. The “war on women” theme might not have made it much beyond the Beltway press but for a series of “unforced errors” committed by high profile Republican Senate candidates. Rep. Todd Akin (R) in his campaign to unseat unpopular incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) clumsily attempted to make the (false) argument that in the cases of rape, a woman can’t conceive. Attempting to describe cases of actual rape, Akin famously used the term “legitimate rape,” providing the kind of soundbite that campaign operatives dream their opponents will provide.
by Ron Nehring
Voters cast ballots for people, not for lists of policy positions. While a candidate’s positions on individual issues are important, voters look for signs of how the a person would use the power of government after the election, if he or she wins.
A candidate’s personal narrative is as influential, if not more so, than their party affiliation or the nuances of their philosophy. Rudy Giuliani was elected Mayor not because his party or philosophy was closest to his fellow New Yorkers in that heavily Democratic city, but rather because his personal qualifications and narrative proved more compelling than those of his rivals. The same is true of leaders including Governors Chris Christie (NJ) and Susana Martinez (NM).
The person is important.
The kind of leader a candidate proves to be on the campaign trail can provide valuable insight to how he or she will govern. It is the candidate who ultimately sets the tone within a campaign, and sends important signals with their attitude, demeanor, whom they hire, and the kind of direction they are given.
by Ron Nehring
We are now heading into the fourth consecutive “change” election in 2014. In California, Republicans are hoping for more success than we experienced in 2010.
In that year, popular myth holds that the Republican “wave” washed across America, but stopped at the California border. For some reason, it was believed, we did something different that kept us from electing the same number of new Republicans as we did in other states.
But like so many myths, this one is wrong too.
It turns out that in 2010, in the six most populous Democratic states, we elected only one Republican statewide candidate: Mark Kirk was elected to the Senate in Illinois. Every other statewide Republican candidate in states such as New York, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, etc. lost. The 2010 Republican wave benefited the entire country – except in its most Democratic strongholds.
What puts California in this category?
Republicans in the state have struggled for years looking for an answer. Some believed redistricting reforms and abolishing party primaries would solve the problem. A decade ago, some believed a more “professional” state GOP that was driven by staff and elected officials in Sacramento would be the solution. These approaches have all tried to turn back the rising blue tide.
What’s the real source of the Republican Party’s problems in California?
by Ron Nehring
If you’re doing your job as a candidate or party leader, you’re going out speaking with a lot of people you haven’t met before. When they don’t know much about you, it’s human nature to make quick judgments based on what little information they do have.
First time candidates, particularly for local office, often send signals that undermine credibility among potential supporters, costing them votes, volunteers, donations, or all three.
People make decisions based on cues and signals, and initial impressions can have a lasting impact. Here are eight unforced errors you can easily avoid.
Loner = loser. Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce lunch? Showing up by yourself tells everyone you have no supporters in the room. Instead, arrive with a volunteer whose job it is to accompany you while you’re chatting with people, helping in taking down notes for follow up, and carrying endorsement cards. When working a crowd and confronted with that weirdo who wants to chew your ear off about privatizing sidewalks, have your body man leading you, setting up the next person to talk to, and politely motioning you to the next person when he sees you’re pinned down. Bonus: Let a member of the group you’re speaking to know you’re coming, and have him meet you at the door when you arrive and walk in together to show other members you have support already.
by Ron Nehring in the Flashreport
State Republican committees across the country are electing new leaders and Republicans are looking for those who will lead the party to victory in 2014.
It’s helpful for interested Republicans to understand just what a party Chairman can control and influence so that expectations can be realistic and two years from now people can accurately judge whether the new Chairman has been successful.
Put another way, if you’re going to measure success, you need the right ruler.
There are many ways to judge a Chairman’s tenure, and most of the popular metrics are absolutely wrong.
A party chairman, like any other leader, can be held accountable only for performance in those areas under the chairman’s control. It’s neither fair nor accurate to gauge a chairman’s success by developments – good or bad – that he cannot directly influence.
The most common erroneous measurement of a party chairman’s success is whether he “won elections.” It’s a common mistake based on an assumption that a party chairman controls far more than he really does.
Strategy is most alluring facet of corporate and political campaigns. Most politicos who manage to get on cable TV news programs take on the title of “strategist.” No one wants to be the “manager,” “organizer” or “communications director.” In politics, strategy is sexy.
Strategy is important. But campaigns and organizations put themselves at a disadvantage when they fail to equally value three other facets: organization, communications, and infrastructure. These components are necessary to move a strategy from theory to practice.
Organization is the structuring and population of groups of people and resources. Organization requires management, leadership, lines of authority, accountability, people, money, improvement cycles, and more. This doesn’t sound very cool in a Fox News interview, but it’s vital for being able to harness people and money and channel these resources into action.