If you’re thinking about running for any elected positions, you should probably start considering how to run your campaign. There are so many ways you can choose to campaign, and we’ve set up a dedicated set of workshops to provide tips for potential success.
Campaigning can be a really rewarding experience, and a little consideration and planning can go a long way. You'll need to consider your manifesto (what you plan on doing if you are elected), the way you’ll communicate your ideas to the student body, and demonstrate your willingness and ability to get things done for students in the role you’re targeting.
Over the years, a wide variety of candidates have each used their own mix of campaigning tactics. There’s no 100% successful formula, and no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to campaign. There’s also no ’type’ of personality that typically wins elections: as long as you’ve got something to say that resonates with people, you stand as good a chance as anyone!
This year we’ve lifted some of the restrictions imposed on previous elections (read the updated rules for details), giving candidates the opportunity to promote their campaign more freely. Union staff (and current officers not running for another term) will also be running workshops you can attend, designed to help structure your campaign and provide information and advice to everyone running in the elections.
In the meantime, here are some of our top tips on things to consider when you’re campaigning:
Make yourself visible: One of the best ways to convince people that you’re the best candidate for your desired role is to make sure you’re talking to them face-to-face. You can do this by handing out leaflets in Library Square and approaching people as they leave their lectures, or even by holding a drop-in Q&A - where you invite voters to come to an arranged location and ask you whatever they like! This need not require a physical presence and you can ask other people to help you campaign. You could host a live Q&A on Facebook Live, or record a short video of you talking about what you’d change if elected on Youtube. If people are seeing you talk, they’re more likely to remember what you stood for when they come to vote!
Play to your strengths: Campaigning can require a little thought outside the box. If you can make use of your hobbies or existing skills as part of your campaign then go for it! For example, if you have a knack for drawing - set aside time to draw some illustrations to fit your campaign theme. If you’re a musician, you could write a campaign song. A blogger? Write a campaign diary and chronicle your campaign trail for people to read. Everyone has a knack for something: campaigning is a real opportunity to make the most of the skills both you and your friends have!
Use social media: Previous election winners of recent years have made excellent use of social media to promote themselves. Whilst making a Facebook group might win you fans amongst your immediate circle: posting content across Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat (and even less well-known platforms) will allow you to reach out to students who may not know you as well. As such, it represents a brilliant opportunity to demonstrate what you’re all about to a far wider audience.
Create a campaign team: Even if it’s just a couple of close friends, a campaign team can help your campaign be more active than if you were to go it alone. This can prevent any issues where you need to be in two places at once, and will help to prevent burnout and exhaustion with your campaigning. A team of friends may also be willing to lend you skills you may not have, helping you to create an inclusive and well-rounded campaign.
Look after yourself: Campaigning can be a draining thing to do, particularly when you're in the midst of studying. It’s important to take some time out from time to time to have a break. Not only will this prevent you from becoming exhausted - it gives you the chance to walk away from your campaign plan and then re-evaluate certain aspects with fresh eyes at a later date.
Come up with a catchy slogan: Something short and snappy that includes your name and summarises your position. There have been some great examples of these down the years, incorporating puns on names or role titles which range from the inspiring to the amusing. A slogan provides a bitesize summary of your campaign - so it’s worth having a good think to come up with the best one possible.
Finally, it’s important to remember that elections are not the be-all and end-all. Make campaigning a fun and rewarding activity, and try not to overstretch yourself.
Good luck and happy campaigning!
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