Project Wonderful

Sunday, February 4, 2018

You're Doing It Wrong: Are You Underutilizing Your Consultants?

Consultants are more than just product producers. They are there to do what their name implies, consult. Both because they are campaign professionals and because it's good for business your consultants want you to win. As one pointed out to me recently they are making the most money on the campaign while spending the least amount of time on the ground so you may as well make them work for it. Here are five things to ask your consultants to make the most of your relationship and run your best campaign:

1) Ask them to help you find staff. The campaign world is replete with informational interviews, many of them with political consultants. Consultants are often adjunct professors in various PoliSci programs (which means students) and work on several campaigns at once all ending on different schedules. All of this means access to resumes. Helping place staff on campaigns is not only the right thing to do and good for the client, it also helps build a brand. If a consultant has helped place you on a race you are more likely to reach out to them when you are looking to hire a consulting team on that or future races. Plus consultants tend to be friends with other consultants and former colleagues who also have resumes and an interest in placing people as well. It's a win-win-win-win. Networking is the helping economy that makes our world go round and you should not be shy about playing your part in it.

2) Ask them o back you up. It's a good thing my candidate doesn't read my blog because I use this one all the time. Sometimes when I can't convince my candidate of something I know I am correct about, (call time is necessary, yard signs are stupid, you can't go on vacation during a candidate forum) I call my consulting team and talk to about it, make sure we are on the same page, and then bring it up on our consultant call. Consultants want you to win so they are usually more than happy to be your advocate and it often helps a candidate to hear it from more that one source-especially one they don't see every day. NB: Definitely make sure you check in with your consultants first so that you can explain your point of view/present a united front when the subject is broached.

3) Ask them teach you new skills. One of the best parts about managing a campaign is that you get work directly with and learn from experts. Consultants want informed clients and future colleagues so don't be shy about asking why they give you a specific piece of advice or how part of their process works. If you're looking to get experience in a particular consultant's area ask if you can take on a task like crafting a press release or an email. As long something is not particularly intensive or time-sensitive they are usually more than happy to have it off their plate.

4) Ask them to weigh in outside their own purview. Just because someone happens to be a pollster or fundraising consultant doesn't mean that this is their only area of expertise. Most consultants are long-time campaign people and its very difficult to get this far without having a variety of experience and working on a lot of different campaigns. Don't be afraid to lean on your consultants for advice even when it has to do with a project they aren't necessarily involved in.

5) Ask them to help YOU find a job. See number one. Consultants perpetually have their hands in a bunch of different campaigns and they love to embed staffers who they know will be loyal to them. Once your campaign is over, assuming you've done a good job, don't be afraid to reach out about next steps.

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