How to Make a Successful Bid for Public Office
If you’ve decided to run for office and you happen to be a differently-abled individual, your personal story and journey could be an inspiring and compelling part of your campaign. There are still the typical everyday needs of running a political campaign to keep in mind, as well as any special accommodations that need to be made when you’re traveling, delivering speeches, and interacting with constituents. Communication will be essential throughout your campaign, which can be buoyed with regular blogging and social media updates to keep people apprised of your campaign stops. Expert services can be assets in this area.
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Before making a bid for public office, personally vet yourself. According to Purdue Online, there are smart ways to go about scouring your online presence, including social media accounts, past interviews, media statements, and articles you’ve written or been quoted in. Do you hold membership in any controversial organizations? Do you have close friends or relatives who have been in trouble with the law? Do you yourself have any legal troubles in your past that could come back to haunt you? You’re wise to find out what’s out there that has the potential to be embarrassing or damaging, then take proactive measures to clean it ups or prepare to address it.
Develop Your Platform
While your disability might be an element of your political platform, your overall agenda and messaging should be tailored to appeal to a wide and varied demographic. A knowledgeable and seasoned campaign advisor and campaign manager can be invaluable when it comes to helping you tailor your message, develop key strategies and approaches, and help position you within key demographics. You’ll also want to evaluate the platforms of your opponents, both to differentiate yourself and to strategize how best to support and advocate for your viewpoints.
Ensure Your Access
Candidates for office often appear at a wide variety of places, from event stages to coffee shops in rural communities. If you have limitations that require special accommodations, have a member of your advance team ensure you’re set up accordingly at different event stops. If you have an auditory or visual disability, also consider having events recorded to ensure you can review them in whatever way is most beneficial for you. If mobility is a problem, plan for events that curtail a lot of moving around, and if necessary, place firm limits on the amount of physical campaigning you do in a single setting. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, you have the right to have a service support animal with you as well, but you’ll need to have accommodations for the animal before, during, and after your campaign stops.
Proactively Talk About Yourself
Unfortunately, there may be people along the campaign trail who question your ability to serve based on your disability. While you are certainly under no obligation to divulge personal information, if you want to discredit these types of challenges, consider developing a standard response related to your condition and your abilities. If you can use your disability for advocacy purposes, that can be a positive tact, but give careful consideration to how — if at all — you use your disability on the campaign trail.
Surround Yourself With Experts
All candidates, regardless of their abilities, are well-served by hiring professionals with campaign experience in key areas including speechwriting, press writing and coverage, polling, and event planning. You can find qualified individuals on job boards. Freelance writers typically charge between $15-$40 per hour, but the cost of content can vary based on experience and expertise. You might also want to hire people with logistics planning experience, as well as website development and social media campaign knowledge. A researcher and a fundraiser can also be assets.
Running for office can be a daunting undertaking that’s mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging. However, if you’re committed to doing the public good by becoming a public servant, preplanning and hiring the right people for your team can make your vision a reality.
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