Making a run for Local Government can mean as little as publicly declaring your candidacy through to a full-blown election campaign. It will depend on your budget, time, personal style, networks and support and commitment. Candidates seeking election to their local council usually consider using a combination of strategies depending on their circumstances. These may include:
- developing a campaign strategy or plan
- producing promotional material (letters, posters, brochures, advertisements, car stickers)
- utilising the media
- word of mouth, telephone networking and email distribution lists.
In some instances, it can include:
- assembling a campaign team and/or director
- identifying a high profile public figure to publicly endorse you
- seeking endorsement from political parties or interest groups
- engaging professionals (graphic designers, freelance journalists)
- producing radio and television advertisements and websites.
Most Local Government candidates hope to run effective campaigns using limited funds and the support of family, friends and like-minded individuals.
Your campaign strategy
An effective campaign is one that doesn’t overstretch you or your family but has the essential elements that will:
- build public awareness of you as a candidate
- effectively communicate your election ‘platform’
- position you as the preferred candidate in your Local Government area.
Develop a campaign strategy and stick to it, despite the bumps and knocks you might take along the way. Think about the core community issues you wish to represent and build your campaign around them. Try to be topical and timely, positive in your approach and constructive in your ideas. Choose your issues carefully and don’t buy into public debates unless they are consistent with your campaign strategy.
The components you choose to include in your campaign will depend on your circumstances and the people you can call on to support you. Local council candidates, who already know their community well, have strong community networks and a public profile are off to a good start. If you are relatively ‘unknown’ in your community, the earlier you start building your public profile, the better.
It is essential that you are familiar with, and abide by, electoral requirements (ie spending limits, authorisation, etc.). These are set out in the Tasmanian Electoral Commission’s, Information for Candidates booklet, downloadable from the Commission's website.
Some well-tried tips
- When asked why you are running, focus on the voters, not yourself. People want to hear about what you will do, more than who you are and what you have done.
- Be targeted. Think about your audience and what your message is. Target your time, your money and your communications. Tailor your message to the individuals, groups and organisations you’re talking to and think about their needs and concerns.
- Make ‘to do’ lists and put people and timelines alongside them.
- Differentiate yourself from your opponents – in the style of your campaign, the tone of your communications and the issues you raise.
- Use strong headings and sub-headings in all your communications – letters, posters, brochures etc. Voters often ‘look at’ rather than read election material.
- Do small print runs with targeted messages on your digital printer. A campaign that is too general in its message and target audience is generally forgotten.
- Start your campaign early but condense your communication efforts to maximise impact. ‘Wearing out the shoe leather’ doorknocking; personal contact and word of mouth can be the most effective form of communication. Leave a calling card and invite people to contact you for a chat.
- Leave paid advertising and even letterboxing to the last week or so of the campaign when voters are making up their mind if they will vote, and for whom.
- Encourage women in your community to vote.
This webpage was prepared by the Communities, Sport and Recreation Division and the Department of Premier and Cabinet's Local Government Division.