There are always more digital job opportunities than qualified individuals available in Republican politics. I’ve always got a running list of campaigns, committees, and organizations who are looking to fill a digital position.
I’m often asked what the skills are that a digital professional needs, and the assumption is usually that there is some set of concrete knowledge that an individual needs to possess. But I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, I usually tell them I’d rather take someone who understands politics and has the right mindset, then train them in digital skills
So here’s my take on a job description for your campaign’s next digital director – or a roadmap if you’re looking to get into digital politics.
You’re Digital First
Technically, everyone of a certain age is a “digital native,” but in this sense, I’m referring to the mindset that your first solution to any challenge involves technology or digital marketing. Every campaign needs someone who wakes up everyday thinking about how you’ll win online.
You Know “The Matrix”
No, not that Matrix. I’m referring to the matrix that covers the four things every campaign needs to do:
|Win Votes||Earn Attention|
|Raise Money||Upset Your Opponent|
If what you’re doing in digital doesn’t obviously fit into one of these squares, you shouldn’t be doing it.
You Get the Joke on Social Media
Digital has unfortunately for many people become a shorthand for social media, but that’s a little like saying a mechanic only changes your car’s oil. It’s important, sure, but that’s not the only thing you’re doing
In fact, I think the amount of time spent worrying about social media is disproportionate to the benefit it gives your campaign.
You’re Not Afraid of “Code”
Again, I’m often asked if there’s some sort of alphabet soup of languages like HTML, CSS, SQL, etc that a digital person needs to know. The answer is no. What you really need is a willingness to look under the hood and not be fearful that you’re going to mess something up. Every line of HTML or CSS or SQL I know, I learned by Googling until I found the right snippet to do what I wanted to do.
You Understand Resources Are Limited
Campaigns are tough. The amount of money you can raise is limited and you’re never going to have enough to do everything you want, but even worse, your most limited asset is time. I can’t tell you how many good ideas or intentions I’ve had that fell by the wayside during a campaign
As Mike Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Being on a campaign is like being on the receiving end of a speed bag workout for months. You’ve got to do the best you can with what you’ve got while you’ve got it. Sometimes you’ve just got to get an email out the door, hit send on the Tweet, or publish the video. If you’re waiting for perfect, you might as well go to your opponent’s victory celebration.
If you’ve got these key skills already – combined with a willingness to learn – you’ll excel as a digital director on a campaign.