Whether you're watching the news, volunteering at a local campaign office, or organizing your own run for office, it's helpful to know who's who -- and who's doing what! -- on the campaign trail.
So what's the work involved? No matter the size of the campaign, it must focus on 11 key activities, some of which you'll learn about in more detail in the coming weeks:
- planning and strategy
- day-to-day management
- research and polling
- issues and messaging
- voter contact
- volunteer coordination
The structure of the campaign and the roles of the staff are based on dividing up responsibility for these 11 key activities. Before the campaign is underway, the leadership team must decide -- and write down in the campaign -- which person is responsible for what activities.
What activity is the responsibility of a volunteer or a paid staff member? Will each activity be assigned to a different person or will one person handle multiple campaign activities?
On smaller campaigns, people may fill multiple roles and volunteers may take on substantial responsibilities. But on larger campaigns, this is the general breakdown by job title.
The campaign manager is the CEO. He or she is responsible for all campaign activities, including management of the candidate, and making sure that daily operations and programs are completed on time and within the budget.
On smaller campaigns, the campaign manager may play multiple roles: political strategist, fundraiser, media contact, and volunteer coordinator. But on larger campaigns, he or she oversees the campaign staff and consultants in their day-to-day work.
The Finance Director is responsible for the campaign’s fundraising programs. He or she develops a fundraising plan and oversees the campaign’s fundraising efforts through mail, online, and at in-person events.
The Finance Chairman and Finance Committee support the Finance Director. The chairman is ideally a person with strong ties to the local community who can help the campaign reach beyond donors who have a direct relationship with the candidate. The Finance Committee is composed of similar people, whose networks can be tapped to raise funds for the campaign.
The Communications Director is responsible for the campaign’s messaging and communication to internal groups (i.e. donors, volunteers, and supporters) and external groups (i.e. media). He or she is responsible for determining when, how, and in what terms the campaign’s message is shared and spread. He or she also responds to inquiries, from the press, the community, or supporters, about the campaign.
The Communications Director also is responsible for the prioritization of campaign issues. A campaign is always about the candidate’s ideas and issues. The Communications Director helps the candidate determine the most important messages and the most effective way in which to deliver them.
On larger campaigns, the Communications Director will work with a Press Secretary, who maintains regular contact with the media.
The Political Director oversees a wide range of areas: voter targeting, outreach, and identification; coalitions; endorsements; and work with surrogates to speak on behalf of the campaign in the media.
On larger campaigns, the Political Director will oversee a Field Director, who manages day-to-day voter identification and outreach efforts “in the field,” and a Volunteer Director, who recruits and deploys volunteers to support the campaign’s efforts.
Professional consultants may be hired to manage entire campaign activities (e.g. fundraising or research and polling) or to part of a campaign activity (e.g. producing radio or television ads). The role of consultants on the campaign should be clearly delineated in their contracts.
In addition to these paid staff, campaigns rely heavily on volunteers – motivated by the candidate or the candidate’s issues – to complete their day-to-day work.