What do you stand for?
What do you believe in?
What do you want to get accomplished?
What’s your platform?
Over and over again throughout your campaign, regardless of what office you’re seeking, you will need to answer questions about the policies that matter to you. You’ll need to have an issues tab on your website. You’ll want to post policy positions as a part of your social media content. You’ll want to be able to answer questionnaires for a voter guide. All of this requires you to have a sense of what you believe. A quick and easy way to arrive at your platform is to write down the answers to these three questions:
What issues matter to you?
Hopefully, you’re not running for office just because you think it might be fun. Hopefully, you want to do some good in the world, to solve some problems, to see some kind of change made. While there will be a lot of issues that you may need to take a position on, what are the issues that have motivated you to get involved in this race? Write them down.
What issues matter to your voters?
What are the challenges people in your community are facing? Are they galvanized by a solution that isn’t being represented by your current elected officials? Just as you need to be a good match for the people you want to represent, so too, should the policies you advocate for match the needs of your voters. Write them down.
What are within the purview of the office you seek?
I sometimes see candidates for office take positions on issues that have nothing to do with the office they’re actually running for. If you’re running for Justice of the Peace, maybe your position on how to overhaul healthcare isn’t the most important thing. If elected, in what areas can you actually make a real difference? Write them down.
Now, once you’ve written down your answers, arrange them in a Venn diagram. Those things that end up in the middle because they matter to you, to your voters, and to the office you’re seeking, are the issues you need to campaign on. Focus on them. Hammer them home.
Writing Your Platform
People want to know that you have a credible mastery of the issues, but they don’t want an unending lecture on the issues. Candidates must be able to read the room, to discern what kind of response is most appropriate in any given situation, and to be prepared to give that answer.
A great technique that I’ve learned from a friend of mine who is a master communicator is to express what you believe about an issue in different word counts. Different venues and questions will require different responses. If you write out your positions using this technique, you’ll be ready to go, no matter what:
1000 words - Describe your position in 1000 words, several paragraphs with examples and anecdotes. This be ideal for your website.
100 words - Describe your position in 100 words, a paragraph that focuses on the facts. You can use these for social media and voter guides.
10 words - Describe your position in 10 words, a sentence. Memorize them and be ready to answer questions.
5 words - Describe your position in 5 words or less, just a phrase. Use this to build graphics and slogans for your campaign.
All of this can be a bit overwhelming for first-time candidates. That’s why I’ve put together an online course that will walk you through, step-by-step, how to run for office. It is going to launch soon. When it does, you’ll want to be the first to know.
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