When learning how to run for local office, your goal is to build a broad and diverse coalition of supporters. The best way to articulate this coalition is with a diverse endorsement list. You’ll want to secure at least a handful of these supporters before you announce your candidacy in order to get the campaign off on the right foot from the beginning.
Build Your Target List
The first thing you should do is build a comprehensive target list of of community leaders – anyone with a title. That title can be as an elected official, appointed official, homeowner association officer, parent organization president, chamber of commerce board, community group leader, nonprofit board member, etc.
Next, meet with an initial 12-15 community leaders from the target list. Set up a short meet-n-greet over coffee or a meal where you’ll share your story, discuss your candidacy, stop and ask for their thoughts on the government agency that you are running for, and then determine if they will support your candidacy.
After the initial meetings, set up 2 to 5 meetings with community leaders from your target list per week over the course of your campaign. Do more if you can.
Confirm Endorsements In Writing
The easiest way to confirm that you can use someone’s name publicly as a supporter is with email or text. Simply send them a note – confirming their verbal agreement to allow you to use their name publicly as a supporter – and ask them to respond.
I learned this lesson the hard way. Many years ago, when I was first running for City Council, I asked a community leader if he would support my candidacy. He said yes and I immediately put his name on my website. Of course, my opposition (the incumbent at the time) was constantly looking over my endorsement list and contacting those folks to put pressure on them. As a result, the community leader who had said he would support me then called to say that he never told me I could publicly use his name.
Without having it in writing, I had no choice than to remove his name from my endorsement list. Trust me, I never did that again. Always get that endorsement in writing!
How To Property List An Endorsers Organization Affiliate
Whenever you place someone’s name on your endorsement list you should also list their affiliation (i.e. PTA President, City Mayor, Specific HOA President, etc.) and put an asterisk* next to their title.
Then, at the bottom of the page, make sure you put the following disclaimer:
*Titles are for identification purposes only.
This the industry standard mechanism for providing context to your endorsers without placing the affiliate organization in jeopardy. It is how you make it clear that the organization is not endorsing you – the person is. The title is just to provide clarity and identification of the person. Undoubtedly someone will suggest you not use the organization name because they are a nonprofit entity. If you respond with this knowledge than most of the time you won’t have to remove the affiliation.
Build A Massive Endorsement List
Once you have listed all of your endorsers and their titles, you will want to build a massive list of people who support you – even without titles. We’re talking friends, family, dentists, doctors, coaches, pastors, teachers, and pretty much everyone you know. You want people to look at your list and be blown away by the volume of endorsements. Remember, voters want to be with the winner. There is no better way to communicate your viability than a broad and diverse list of endorsements.
Make sure you put the list of endorsements on your website. You want your supporters to be pumped and your opposition to feel like they are being out worked! You should also put endorsements on your walk piece and maybe even consider doing a mailer that highlights your endorsements.
Want to know more about securing endorsements and how best to use them? Contact me anytime with your questions and to receive a complimentary 30-minute candidate telephone coaching session.