According to Elmer, Langlois and McKelvey, “contemporary political campaigning is typified by its non-stop character.” This chimes with the tactics used in most major elections of the past few years, and is one of the reasons why permanent campaigning has become so popular.
In this article, we’ll be explaining permanent campaigning and examining different ways that it can be used to strengthen your support network. Read on to find out more!
What is Permanent Campaigning?
Permanent campaigning refers to the act of continuing to build support for your candidacy and strengthening your public reputation even after the election has passed. The practice involves using tactics typically seen in the campaign setting during the periods in between elections. This includes growing your supporter database, fundraising, and continuing to reach out to different voter demographics. While this technique is not often seen in the European political context, it has long been a feature of the American political landscape, particularly throughout most American presidential elections of the past 40 years.
Why is Permanent Campaigning so Beneficial?
Permanent campaigning is beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it allows you to stay connected to your voters, donors and followers even after election day has passed. By continuing to host fundraising events and meetings for your supporters, you can maintain and even strengthen the strong relationships you built with those who helped you throughout your time campaigning. This will boost your chances of having support for any initiatives you may want to introduce in these periods in between elections.
Secondly, permanent campaigning will help to build a strong foundation of support ahead of future elections. Whether you won or lost the last election, it won’t be long before there’s a new one around the corner. Why not take the time in between to increase your chances of succeeding? By continuing to connect with those who voted for you, and making new efforts to convince those who didn’t, you’ll stay fresh in the minds of your community members. This will increase your chances of succeeding in future elections to come.
The benefits of permanent campaigning have made it a key staple of the modern campaigner’s election strategy. So how exactly can it be done? We’ve compiled a list of some of the key methods below:
The Key Ways to Campaign Permanently
- Continue to Reach Out to Existing Supporters: even after the election results have been announced, your supporters need to know you’re still present to them. By maintaining contact through hosting regular meetings, fundraising events and information sessions between election periods, you can ensure that your followers will support you in the next election. Investing in a Citizen Relationship Manager (CRM) is an excellent way to maintain contact with your supporters. A CRM is a digital space in which you can manage your relationship with each contact and tailor communication levels according to the nature of this relationship. Maintaining this contact will increase the chances of your supporters spreading your message to their own networks of contacts too. This will further improve your chances of future election success!
- Maintain Strong Social Media Accounts: increasingly, social media is becoming a vital tool throughout the campaigning process. Within the permanent campaign context, it’s even more essential. Traditional forms of media such as television and print are unlikely to cover your efforts during non-election periods- that's why it’s important to maintain a channel of communication that allows your community to see the work you're doing in these less politically active periods. Social media is perfect for doing just that, while also connecting you with a wider audience of people that you may not normally have access to.
- Build a Strong Online Personal Brand: build a strong online presence through posting regular blog and website updates reflecting on the work you’ve done in recent months. This ensures that a consistent stream of content is available to your community. In this way, you're guaranteed to stay fresh in the public consciousness while also making your locality aware of the recent work you’ve contributed to the area.
- Continue Canvassing for New Supporters: members of your community (particularly those who didn't have the opportunity to vote in the last election) will still want to learn more about your efforts. Engage with them directly by knocking on doors or picking up the phone and starting a conversation with your constituents. Phone-banking and canvassing actions are some of the most effective ways of amassing new followers for both elected officials and those hoping to win in future.
Election results are not the product of a few weeks’ worth of canvassing; they are the product of months, even years, of interactions, fundraising events and organized actions that you have engaged in ahead of election day. The connections you make with your community, and the effort you put into maintaining these, determines who turns out to vote on D Day. That’s why permanent campaigning is so important. Ensuring that your community knows you are there for them both before, throughout and after campaigning periods is a surefire way to guarantee their continued support. It'll also help to spread your message even further. So before you call it a day on campaigning without an election in sight, think about the effects permanent campaigning could have on your long term appeal and reputation. It could serve you well in a future election!