By: Paul Bentz
As I mentioned earlier this week, the end of 2011 marks the completion of my tenth year at HighGround. I thought it would be fun to share ten things that I have learned during my time. This is part two.
6. Momentum is real.
I don’t really know how else to say it, but when it comes to campaigns or any other public effort, momentum is a real thing. Partially pushed by the media, partially created by the people involved, partially caused by the environment, the public has a sense of when things are going well and when they are going badly. Just like in sports, sometimes, you can just feel it, and what you are feeling is real. There are things that can be done to help build momentum, and ensure that you don’t peak too early or too late. Momentum needs to be managed.
7. Embrace Change.
Ten years isn’t a very long time for most people, but a lot has changed in campaigns and politics during that time. I have seen the fax machine go from an important tool to downright obsolete. I have seen campaign websites go from supplementary to critical. Don’t blink for a second or you’ll miss the next thing. The first twitter account I ever opened was for the Then-Governor-in-Waiting Brewer’s transition team. I had no idea what I was doing and someone had to tell me that I was supposed to follow people back. Today, we wouldn’t launch a campaign without the full Twitter/Facebook/YouTube complement. Politics is a great incubator for communication, so we have to embrace the changes as they come or we risk being left behind.
8. Writing is critical.
Even though writing has been a major part of the discourse since our founding fathers, I have to admit that I was completely surprised by how much writing comes with the job. Speeches, mailers, strategy plans, advertisements, commercials, heck – even letters to the editor require a lot of writing. My secret love is math, so writing can sometimes be a challenge. I am amazed by the talented and thoughtful writers throughout Arizona who can paint pictures with words and move people with their ability to capture an idea.
9. It’s personal and it’s business.
Yet another old cliche: “This isn’t personal – it’s business.” The problem is that sometimes, this business is personal. When it comes to candidates, they put their lives out there on display in hopes of being elected. It is downright impossible for candidates not to take things personally. On the other hand, this is our business. Sometimes I work with consultants, but on the next effort, I’m working against them. We can disagree, but I don’t have to hate them to do so. I think that is part of what drives candidates crazy – our failure to take some things personally. I am passionate, but my goal is to remain professional. Does it always happen? No. But that’s the goal.
You have to believe in what you are doing and who you are working for. Ten years later, I am still blessed to be part of the HighGround family. Chuck, Anne, and Doug have been together more than twelve years now and Kate has been on the team for almost seven. I still look forward to coming to work every day and doing what I can to “Make it Happen.” I am blessed to work with people and on projects that I can believe in.