The discourse around consultants hasn’t changed since the 30’s, they are shadowy svengalis that pull the strings and get stuff done. They are the master manipulators, the leaks to the press, the fundraisers, the sometimes sneaky but always victorious people behind the curtain.
Why do we look to political consultants? Simple, they know more than us. Does this make people skeptical? Of course! We fear the unknown, and putting your fate in the hands of someone who usually goes to the highest bidder is a risk. Political consultants are usually ex-politicians or people who are so immersed in the sector that they have built a solid reputation as a person ‘in the know’ over the years.
Consulting is a very lucrative business with many political aficionados working on numerous campaigns at a time and with the turnover being so frequent there is always another campaign looking for new directions. So what is there to gain from the murky waters of political consulting:
They are expensive but….
There is no substitute for experience and if you are referring to yourself as a political consultant, we assume you have loads! Political consultants bring an outside edge to your campaign team. They have no personal attachment or affiliation with the candidate and this is always a good thing. Being able to view things from an outside point of view is crucial when it comes to campaigning, they can see what's working and what isn’t without feeling bad about it.
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A shake-up of the campaign team is often needed if things have come to a standstill. People can get bogged down in routine and political consultants more often than not come and tear up the rule book. You can get consultants which operate in specific areas too to strengthen that side of your
You are paying this person for their opinion, not to be your friend. Most first time candidates employ a close friend as a campaign manager so it is imperative that an outside voice can come in and give the harsh truths. Maybe your look needs to change or your mandate needs to be stronger. Take advice from someone who has seen what has worked and what hasn’t.
Political consultants often get first try at the latest gadgets and campaign toys on the market. Some consultants will trial numerous campaign software and use this as a selling point. Any aspect that will give a candidate an edge on the opposition should be considered be that new canvassing techniques, acquiring better endorsements or even enticing an influential running mate are things which may help you gain votes.
Consultants are often a great addition to your campaign team, but they are not magicians. If your campaign is running against the tide in your district, a consultant may help, but they can’t change your political environment. If your candidate refuses to raise money by making calls and one-on-one asks, hiring a fundraising consultant won’t solve your problem, unless that consultant’s job is to train your candidate to raise money, then to go and work on other fundraising projects. Consultants can be a big help, but only rarely will they be able to solve systemic problems in your campaign.
They are far from perfect but they can do a job for you in close races.
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