Chris Rey unseated a 10-year mayoral incumbent and swept the election with a whopping 76% of the vote in Spring Lake, N.C., last fall. The U.S. Virgin Islands native returned to his childhood home after serving as a U.S. Army captain with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, interning with Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, graduating in 2010 from law school at the College of William and Mary, and running his own consulting business, C2Vizion LLC. How did he do it? Follow in his footsteps to craft your own campaign.
Although I officially kicked off my campaign in February 2011, I was laying down the foundation six months before that. I was up against a longtime incumbent, so I needed to show voters I was serious about this position. By the time we officially announced the campaign, I had name recognition. Starting early gives you an advantage on filing day.
When I consult for entrepreneurs, I always ask them to think about what their brand is. It’s the same process when building a campaign. Campaigning is a lot like building a company, and you’re the product. Ask yourself: What’s your message? Why are you running?
CREATE A STRONG WEB PRESENCE.
Your campaign website and social media presence speak volumes about who you are. A bad website makes me wonder, what kind of person is this? A professionally constructed website that is functional and appealing means people see me as a professional—and also helps secure donations.
MAKE SPECIFIC PLANS THAT RESONATE.
Public safety is a big issue for my community, and there is a lot of generational poverty. People are looking for resources that will improve their circumstances. I didn’t want to go in talking about sewers and streets or speaking in generalities. Two of my key issues are public safety and providing educational opportunities. For example, we are running a summer enrichment program that will get kids off the streets. That translates to less crime and more positive outlets for children. Don’t simply run a campaign; inspire individuals to better their conditions.
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