This article gives an overview of how to think about the actions - online or offline - that your campaign will take to achieve its strategic objectives to win.
A campaign tactic is any action your campaign takes towards the goal of winning - like getting more votes, recruiting more volunteers, raising awareness about your campaign, gaining more followers, etc. You should think about which combination of tactics will make for the most optimised campaign.
These are the things you do to achieve your laid out objectives as part of your larger strategy. These can be online or offline efforts and can be done by your campaign staff, volunteers or the political candidate themselves.
It’s good to consider your campaign tactics as a package. What is the combination of things that will take your efforts forward? You want to budget your time and money strategically. Since you only have a limited amount of both, spend them wisely!
Before you decide which tactics to use, consider your audience carefully. Always think about how each event can further your goals, your other tactics and the campaign at large. Promote the consecutive tactic at the previous one, make it easy to sign up and volunteer, donate, and take part in other ways. As much as you can, track available data. If something performs really well, consider trying to squeeze another one into your campaign calendar.
Remember that not every tactic can easily demonstrate how it contributes to your goal, but may be important for motivating your volunteers or bringing in new energy, like a campaign rally. Balance out the amount and kinds of tactics you use, and plot them all onto a calendar, leaving room for spontaneous moments to come up as well. Always take into account that making connections through conversation is the best way to sway voters. The more your candidate does this, the better.
Examples of election campaign tactics:
Every campaign will make use of a few tried-and-tested tactics that are known to achieve your goals (perhaps a sustained calling and canvassing push, a few rallies, some sign-waving and attending events), but good campaigns will always try to innovate and try out new tactics (like some creative stunts, props, a hot air balloon, new digital tactics like texting or different mediums), so get creative and experiment! New tactics are also more likely to get traditional media or social media attention which is always a good thing.
A campaign tactic can also describe something more granular like using a QR code on a campaign flyer with a link to your campaign video and sign up sheet.
Be sure to always clearly communicate to anyone you’re asking to take part in a tactic why they’re doing it and what it achieves. Everyone should be able to answer the i. Problem ii. Solution iii. Theory of Change and iv. Urgency. (Explained more in Campaign narrative).
As much as you can, every campaign tactic should feature your established campaign narratives front and centre: written materials, volunteer scripts, ads, speeches, etc. (Explained more in Campaign narrative).
As much as you can, promote every campaign tactic in every way you can - with press releases, through social media, by using your email list, calling supporters, through ads, in event pages of news outlets, with posters and flyers, etc. And if a tactic performed well, promote that as well in as many ways as you can as indicative of progress.
For issue-specific campaigns - those not tied to elections - a campaign tactic would be anything you do to bring the attention of potential supporters and of decision-makers to the demands of your campaign. For example: having supporters call the office of their Member of Parliament (MP) or attending a march. It can be helpful to think about this when developing your campaign’s suite of tactics to deploy, in order not to get stuck in the same routine. You are hoping to bring your campaign to the attention of as many voters as possible.
What’s crucial when it comes to campaign tactics is to keep track of their results as best you can, using qualitative (feedback, surveys) and quantitative (number of respondents, sign-ups) data, in order to evaluate and improve them for your own and others’ campaigns. Try to make time directly after (while memories are fresh) to jot down your own and/or others’ feedback or have an evaluation discussion if you can make time, but certainly go through every campaign tactic in a big evaluation meeting at the end. This will allow you to determine which tactics worked best, which should be scrapped, which should be re-used and which can be improved upon.
Examples of (good and bad) political stunts:
Campaign tactics are the specific online or offline actions taken by your campaign to achieve your strategic goals. Your combination of tactics will be the recipe for the success or failure of your campaign, and you should try to balance out certain factors, particularly with the knowledge that having personal conversations is your most potent tool to sway votes and change minds. Use a combination of tried-and-tested plus new and creative tactics for the best results. Don’t forget to promote each one, optimise each to serve your other goals, track your results (tell everyone if they’re good!) and evaluate them afterwards.
Last updated: June 2022