MFBF Campaign School offers advice on running a winning campaign
February 20, 2014
The Montana Farm Bureau Campaign School held Feb. 17-18 in Helena, provided a comprehensive outlook on how to run a winning campaign. The topics ranged from handling a media interview and developing the most effective direct mail piece to hiring a campaign manager and getting votes.
Cody Lyon, director of grassroots/political advocacy for American Farm Bureau, conducted the workshop. "The two statements that should become a mantra of candidates is 'Get your message out' and 'Be in the right place at the right time," Lyons explained. He indicated that 14 percent of the voting population has their minds made up and you will never change them; 86 percent are undecided. It's the candidate's responsibility to convince that 86 percent to vote for him or her.
"Have a good message. Practice 40 or 50 sound bites and have them memorized so they come easily to you when you're talking," the instructor said. "Keep the message simple, be honest and don't answer hypothetical questions."
Lyon covered organizing your campaign office and team, and how to get contributions. "You will have communications expenses, organizational expenses and office expenses, so look for ways to offset some of the costs with volunteers."
He provided the pros and cons of different communication pieces from direct mail (effective, but pricey) to billboards (great for name recognition but after awhile motorists block it out) to television (expensive, but can be worth it.). He indicated that a well-run campaign is a winning campaign.
Lyon's final advice. "No matter what you do, nothing surpasses hard work to win. Know your strategy, then go out there and work hard."
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The 14 attendees all had positive comments about the event. Joanne Blyton, who has served two terms as House District 59 Representative from Joliet said she thought the MFBF Campaign School "was the most informational, progressive campaign school I've attended. It makes you think outside of the box. For my campaign for the Senate District 29, I'm definitely going to pay more attention to figures and analyze numbers."
This was the first campaign school—and the first run for public office—for Seth Berglee, also from Joliet, who is running for House District 58. "It gave you the framework of running a campaign and broke it down into smaller parts so you weren't overwhelmed," the young rancher said. "It gives you a better idea of responsibility in the campaign."
Roger Hagan from Great Falls, who is running for re-election in House District 19 said the school provided a building block sequence. "It really taught you how to add to what you've already learned and how to formulate a plan for everything from addressing issues to assessing your financial needs."
Carl Mattson from Chester and his wife, Janice, came to the campaign school to learn more and determine if Carl wants to run for office this year. "It certainly provided a look at what makes a successful campaign and how you need to pace that campaign," Mattson said.
Doug Kary who plans to run for Senate District 22, said the school was "better organized than any school I've seen before. It's spot-on for getting everything in line, and shows how that last 30 days of chasing down the votes are critical to winning a race." F
–Montana Farm Bureau
–Mont. Farm Burea