Project Wonderful

Sunday, August 13, 2017

It Should Go Without Saying...

One of the joys of having a campaign-themed blog is that people feel encouraged to share ridiculous/inappropriate stories (keep 'em coming) about things that happen in their office. We spend plenty of time making fun of candidates and things they should know better about but there is plenty to say about campaign staff. All of the following are REAL EXAMPLES I have either witnessed or had relayed to me of things that should go without saying, but apparently don't.

It should go without saying...

Don't smoke pot in the office. Even if it's legal in your district. Even after hours. ESPECIALLY if you have a shared office space, but definitely at all.

Don't smoke cigarettes inside the office. Are you kidding me? Ew.

Don't drink alcohol in the office in front of volunteers, donors, or anyone who it might make uncomfortable. A little bottle of wine during some late night data entry is a different story.

Don't drink alcohol at formal or informal campaign events if you are under 21.

Don't serve alcohol to staff or interns who are under 21.

Don't get drunk at an official campaign event no matter how old you are. And if you are drunk (at a campaign event or not) do not drive home under any circumstances.

Do not engage in romantic relationships with staff whom you supervise. Sorry but this is non-negotiable.

You are collectively responsible for the cleanliness of the common areas in your office. If you have to be asked to do your part you are already being irresponsible. Check yourself proactively, especially if you are a man working in an office with women. (Don't @ me; It's how we're socialized.)

Do not put any campaign expense on your personal credit card that you cannot afford to float for an indefinite period of time. Similarly, do not ask staff to shell out for expenses for which they will not be reimbursed immediately.

Do not agree to any meeting, interview, expenditure, or hire on behalf of the campaign unless you are authorized to do so.

Don't promise anything you can't deliver, even to get out of an uncomfortable conversation.

Don't post anything negative--even if satirical--on social media about the campaign, your opponent or people involved with either. (This includes submissions to CampaignSick Tumblr).

Don't talk to the press without explicit permission from the Comms Director or Campaign Manager.

Don't talk about campaign secrets or make disparaging or inappropriate comments in front of volunteers. (There are spies everywhere.)

Do not put anything in electronic communication that would be embarrassing to you or the campaign if it were to find its way into a newspaper.

Don't run a paid and volunteer canvass from the same staging location.

Always provide healthcare or a healthcare stipend for long-term employees. (Practice what we preach you guys!)

Don't try to pay employees who are really employees as contractors.

Always follow up with people who have helped you find talent, connected you to a potential employer etc. Nothing annoys me more than sending someone a resume or recommending someone for a job and then never hearing what happened.

On the flip side anyone who got to a second round interview with you deserves a heads up that the position has been filled.

Let your references know that you are using them as references. It's considerate plus it allows them to prepare and give more thoughtful recommendations.

More than one person should have an office key. You don't want everyone locked out because one person is stuck in traffic.

Don't steal your opponents' lit or yard signs. Especially don't do this and throw them out behind your office. People I know have been arrested for this.

Buy the .org, .net and every version of your candidate's name and website. You don't want to turn out to be a landing page for the opposition.

Make sure your opponent and his/her spouse are removed from your contact universe. Awkward and embarrassing.

Don't re-solicit someone before thanking them. Duh.

You/your candidate don't need to interview 8 consultants for the same service. Don't waste everyone's times. Stick with 2-3 max. Committees and other consultants can help make recs if you don't know where to start.

Don't have your candidate show up at another candidate's event (in candidate capacity) without permission. It's rude and tacky. The exception is if your candidate is really attending as a supporter OR if your candidate is for example a state senator attending a large annual event like the (no longer existent) Harkin Steak Fry.

What am I missing? Happy to do a round two!

Campaign Love and Mine,


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ten More Votes! A Firm Of One's Own with Eric Hogensen

One of the things I love the most about our community is that you have people wherever you go. To wit, I am in Los Angeles looking for my next adventure and the consultants and operatives of the West Coast (and yes, the GC culture is a huge thing here, another post on that later) have been nothing but generous with their time. I sat down with Eric Hogensen of HSG campaigns to learn more about his business AND his exciting new project, Ten More Votes!

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself and your career trajectory.

I was born in Chicago and raised around Madison, Wisconsin. My mother is Mexican and father is Jewish. I was raised in a fairly political household by left-wing radical artists and got a Poli Sci degree but I didn’t work on my first campaign until after college. I started as a Field Organizer in WA-03 (Olympia) in the summer of 2000, literally fell in love with campaigns on that race and I've been doing it ever since. I came up through field, did a Kentucky Governor’s race, a Presidential cycle for Clark in South Carolina and a Congressional race in Vegas. Along the way I did a little bit of everything from press to finance to managing.

What do you love about campaigns?

I think of campaigns like a mosquito zapper. One pops up and all these people from all over suddenly flock to it. I’m definitely a people person so I love that feeling of camaraderie and teamwork. There’s nothing like that pace and that energy. I especially love managing because you are in the middle of everything, you move things forward, you influence the candidate, there’s no part of the race you don’t touch. But it takes so much out of you.

When did you start your own firm and why?

I believe you only have two or three races in you to manage and really do it well. I won my congressional race in ‘06 started my firm in ’07. I got some good staff that I trusted and rented a couple rooms above a soccer bar in Milwaukee, focused on mail and digital. Once it got going, I moved things out to CA because I love it here. The weather is great and my wife is from SC and so she missed warm weather. 

What surprised you about starting your own firm?

The thing I was least prepared for is that once you're a consultant all your relationships with other consultants change. As a manager, they’re helping you get jobs and you are helping them by staffing their races. As a fellow it’s just different. Even if you’re not in direct competition maybe they’re on a race with someone with whom you are. Also the reality of constantly selling/finding clients. The impact and the beast of that is intense.

Tell us about Ten More Votes.

Ten More Votes is a mobile voter contact campaign app for Democratic campaigns that volunteers and supporters can use to easily call, text and canvass for the campaign. No other platform allows you to do all three and its ease of use, in my opinion, is second to none. 

How did this come about?

My friend Kelly (who is a tech person) and I were talking. He was building apps and doing some freelance projects and we decided to do a project together.  It did come out of what I perceive to be a gap in campaign technology. There are solutions out there but I don't think they are as simple as they can be and for me this filled that gap.

How have you seen this kind of technology change over the course of your career?

I've by seen it go from nothing in 2000 -basically we were just chatting with each other on AIM-- to now where smart campaigns spend a significant part of their budget and devote staff to digital. So literally from 0 to like 50% when you consider how much tech is a part of everything. The key becomes how do you integrate everything; how do you curate what’s out there? You don't want to get distracted by shiny objects. At the same time there are fundamentals that don't have anything to do with digital: management, messaging, good candidates that won't ever change. 

If people want to learn more about how 10 more votes works how can they find out?

You can use this link to sign up for a demo. CampaignSick readers get 10% off their first two months of using the app!

What else do you want people to know about Ten More Votes?

We used to talk about this like a FUBU product, for us by us. Lot's of people come from the tech world and want to tell us how to improve things, knowing nothing about the process. I built this with us in mind. I'm a campaign person; I'm not an angel investor or a tech bro. Basically I love your readers and and I want their feedback because that's who we build this for.

What do you wish you had known earlier in your career?

Be more mindful of how you treat people. When you are young and passionate you get caught up in the moment and you lose sight of how the things you say affect people. I never lacked confidence, I can tell you that, but there's a way to be confident without being cocky. People will remember how you treat them long after you've forgotten what you said.