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Wednesday, March 20, 2019
HomePolitics and PolicyCampaigning: Start strong, finish strong

Campaigning: Start strong, finish strong

Extend your team with software

There’s a reason why presidents put in place 100-day plans for their presidencies: They know that those first few days can define your entire term, will set the tone and establish the pace.

Candidates for office can tear a page from that playbook as it pertains to the next 70 days –  that’s how many are left on the calendar before the Aug. 16 primary. Write your plan today, if you haven’t done so already. And get to executing it.sheila finkenbinder

Sheila Finkenbinder of Sitka is an example of someone who knows the value of starting strong. She filed for House District 35 on June 1, and immediately got a newspaper article and a radio story about her candidacy, set up a bank account, is putting her team together, and is able to accept contributions at Sheila for State House, 415 DeArmond Street, Sitka, AK 99835.

When we spoke with her this week, she was busy launching her campaign web site and heading to one of the many public gatherings she regularly attends.

Someone like Sheila Finkenbinder, who has never run for office but who has worked in the Capitol as an aide to former Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell, can extend her campaign by using modern tools.

If you’re just jumping in, as she is, you want to hold yourself and your team accountable so you can get a fast start. You’ll need to set daily and weekly goals and you need a shared system for tracking them. If you have no other software with which you’re comfortable, an easy project management tracking system like Basecamp will do for now — simple to set up and easy to learn. With Basecamp, you get the first 30 days free, and after that it’s still cheap.

An alternative to Basecamp is IMeetCentral, which is the next generation  of a program the Obama campaign pioneered usage of in 2008. Both have shared calendars, task lists, dashboards, and information you can either share with your entire team or segments of it. Whichever you choose, keep it simple.

Why use a task or project management software? For one thing, most House races in Alaska do not have full-time or even part-time campaign managers, so candidates find they have to do more than just knock on doors and speak at senior centers.

And if you’ve ever sat in on a political campaign meeting, you probably left with the feeling that not enough tasks were assigned and the path forward still seems murky and unaccountable. A task manager that the entire group uses can change all that.

More ways to be effective:

  • Involve your campaign team in developing the plan. What they help create, they’ll be more committed to achieving.
  • The goals need to be in your face all the time. And in theirs.
  • Everyone needs to be comfortable with the software and ready to use it.
  • Daily tasks are essential. Check them off early in the day. Establish a culture of task completion.
  • Regular meetings with your team will keep them hitting their goals. The task management software alone is not enough.


This is part of a continuing series called “Campaigning.” Check back soon for more tips.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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