5 Tips To Run For Office by Kelly Dietrich

By at September 4, 2015 | 3:33 pm | Print

5 Tips To Run For Office by Kelly Dietrich

Kelly Dietrich Enlarged

(Editor’s note: A version of this post was originally published on GetElected.com.)

When you run for office, you get a lot of advice. After all, everyone believes they know how to run a campaign. All you need is to shake a few hands, kiss a few babies, and presto!  You win.

If it were only that easy.

Once you’ve decided to put your name on the ballot, you quickly realize campaigning is a skill like everything else. And, given how high and how public the stakes are, you also quickly realize it is not something you want to leave to chance. You need to do it right.

There are four tips we give to every candidate who decides to run for office. In fact, we reinforce these four points throughout every GetElected lesson we produce.


Campaigns should be run like a business, focused on one goal and one goal only: winning. Everything else, within the confines of ethical and legal boundaries, is irrelevant.

Businesses have plans to meet their goals, so should you. Campaign plans are critical to your success. Take the time to build them.

People will tell you to spend money on all sorts of things. They will recommend the latest high-end technology, a big name consultant, a huge poll every week, or worse. Spend your time, money and people executing your plan to meet your goals to win, not on making other people happy. Every time you deviate, you lessen your chances of victory.


Since you have such limited time, money and people, you should measure everything you do. If you decide to make fundraising calls, how many did you make? How many people did you reach? If you knocked on doors, how many did you hit? How many people answered and how many agreed to vote for you?

Once you have some baseline stats, you can begin to make smarter and wiser decisions about the best use of your time and adjust your campaign plans as needed.

Try to rely less on your gut and more on actual data whenever you can.


On every political campaign we’ve ever worked, someone has said they will raise us a ridiculous amount of money or will deliver a certain neighborhood or group of voters for us. Wonderful. Have at it. However, they should never be the entirety of our plan to run for office.

From your campaign plans, you need to know what your goals are and how you plan to meet them. The success of your campaign should never hinge on someone else who promised you the world.


I know. We just said that when you run for office, be self reliant. But, campaigns are also all about relationships. Relationships with the voters, donors, volunteers, media and anyone else you meet matter.

Which ones you take the time to develop and grow and which you choose to ignore or let wither, affects your ability to meet your goals and ultimately win.

Every person with whom you interact, whether it is in person, online, over the phone, through a letter or even in an advertisement, is building some type of impression and relationship with you. It is your job to get what you need most from each of them.


In all the advice you receive (except ours of course!) and all the decisions you make, keep in mind there is no one right way to win an election.

Yes, there are plenty sure fire ways to lose, but each victory is different. Every campaign makes mistakes and every campaign is a train wreck of organizational chaos at some point. Usually, the most organized and most focused train wreck wins.


Kelly Dietrich runs GetElected.com, an online campaign school for candidates of every level to learn how to start, run and win their own campaign. GetElected’s trainings are designed to be affordable, interactive and immediately applicable. If you read this far, you should definitely check them out.

If you really want to know more about Kelly, he politely suggests you may want to consider finding a new hobby as he’s pretty dull. He’s spent eighteen years in politics, which makes him old in the world of campaigns, a fact with which he is slowly coming to terms. In addition to running GetElected, he teaches a political science class at DePaul University in Chicago, IL where he lives. He loves playing poker, Kansas Jayhawk basketball and spending time with his daughter, who he believes may be the smartest, prettiest person on the planet (in his humble opinion.)

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