Political campaign consultants can be great assets that can help you through every step of a campaign and election. If you are a first-time candidate new to campaigning, a consultant can help you organize every step and provide valuable advice. However, some candidates are unclear or unrealistic about the consultant's role, and this can hurt an otherwise viable bid for office. Here are some common mistakes to avoid so you can get the most out of the consultant you hire.
Don't rely on them for everything. Unless you have specifically hired a fundraising consultant, don't expect your campaign consultant to help you raise money. You should already have significant financial support, and the consultant's fee should just be one of your expenses. If your campaign is struggling to raise money on its own, a campaign consultant isn't likely to be able to help you. Likewise, unless your contract with a consultant specifically includes speechwriting, public relations or maintaining your website, don't expect them to carry the load. Their role is to advise you and to help you plan. Let your campaign manager delegate these tasks.
Don't expect them to have a following. Even if consultants have worked on highly visible, winning campaigns, most voters don't know who they are. Name dropping won't help and just having a consultant is not enough. Consultants work in the background and their role is to help you bring voters to your side. It's up to you and your campaign staff to interact with voters, raise money and develop your social media presence. The consultant can advise you on how to do this effectively, but you have to reach your voters personally.
Don't dismiss their advice. If you truly feel you are not a good fit, then it's OK to end the relationship. However, if a consultant gives you solid advice, even when it's something you don't want to hear, it's probably worth following. If the consultant you hired has worked on a number of winning campaigns, they've learned a lot and are passing the lessons on to you. If running as a "renegade" is your hook, let the consultant advise you on how to turn your stance on the issues or your plan for execution into a winner. Remember that voters care about looks, mannerisms, your personal life, your mistakes and anything the media can turn into an issue. Don't try to be a renegade with an experienced, successful consultant, especially one who knows how to get you elected.
The point of hiring a campaign consultant is to have someone who points out the mistakes you are making and the things you need to do better. If your image, media presence or campaign staff needs improvement, remember that that's what you are paying them to tell you. Have realistic expectations and heed the consultant's advice – you'll get more for your money and will be that much closer to winning.