Do you know the key figures driving a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate’s (PPC’s) election campaign?
Are you sure you know how best to land your messages and interact with PPCs?
To help shed light on this Portland brings you a first-hand perspective. As a candidate in the 2015 General Election, Victoria Fowler knows what’s in store for PPCs. Now an Account Manager in Portland’s Health Team, Victoria gives a glimpse in a series of short blogs into life as a PPC, the key actors in the campaign, milestones, and what to do and avoid.
What does a typical constituency/association team look like and who are the key players?
Firstly, you need to know the core campaign team, which is the Candidate, the agent and the campaign manager/s:
The Candidate – known as the ‘PPC’, until the official nomination forms are submitted (and accepted), at which point they become a Parliamentary Candidate for their Party.
The Agent – Every candidate will have one: they are responsible for the management of the local campaign and its finances. Although the Agent will often be, primarily, the legal hand on a campaign, don’t overlook them as they are often a party stalwart who knows their responsibilities thoroughly. In some cases the Agent is also the campaign manager (see below).
The Campaign Manager/s: The Campaign Manager/s will set the tone for the campaign and how best the activists’ and candidate’s time will be spent.
This person, or sometimes team is responsible for developing a campaign strategy with the PPC and what the key messages are at each speech, hustings, literature drop and canvassing session. Additionally, they often have responsibility for the campaign’s social media channels.
They will also set targets for how many doors will be knocked on, people spoken to, pieces of literature printed and more
Who else inputs into the campaign?
Regional Officer/s: Works closely with the core campaign team on driving and delivering targets across all areas of the campaign, but particularly with literature and targeted canvassing.
Mobilisation Officer/s: As the name suggests, the key driver in mobilising volunteers.
Regional team, including Regional Press Officer and Regional Director: key points of contact for the Candidate and the Agent when clarifying media top lines, arranging details for visits or signing-off official paper work.
Constituency/Association Party Officers/Executive: Local party members with greater responsibilities within the party, E.G. secretary or chair of the local party/association, will often support the core campaign team in their roles during the General Election period.
They also play a key liaising role between local government committee/s and the general election team, as well as being the point of contact with constituency members and supporters. They have a good overview of what the different teams of party activists and representatives are doing as well as having financial control over local party/association funds.
Party Members: Often the most dedicated activists of the party in terms of helping to raise funds, canvassing and leafleting.
Party Supporters: A supporter may have paid less or nothing at all to identify as a supporter of their political party. They are increasingly important in the structure, influence and reach of political parties as activists move away from being full members.
Is it all driven locally, or is there influence from ‘above’?
In short, yes and no. While the core campaign team sets the direction and narrative of the campaign, as with all party politics there is both influence and input from above. The key influencers are:
National Seat Manager: The name varies between elections and political parties, but, in short, they are the key person in the national office for the core campaign team to reach out to or take direction from. New media messages, campaign strategies or content, parliamentary or policy briefings and targets will be shared with candidates through this person.
Parliamentary Party: Primarily MPs, but also sometimes MEPs and Members of the House of Lords. This team decides on party policy and the tone and direction of the election campaign. Constituency campaign teams rely on networks within the Parliamentary Party to act as speakers at fundraising dinners, in providing a focus or new angle for the media when they visit the constituency or for mobilising volunteers.
Ministerial/Shadow teams: MPs with expertise in a particular area often highlight campaign messages through targeted visits during campaigns, e.g. the Minister for Health might talk to the local councillor and parliamentary candidate about Health policy whilst on a visit to a hospital.
Next week’s ‘PPC view’, will explore key milestones for a PPC throughout a campaign and delve into how Core Campaign Teams devise top lines and manifesto pledges.
Measurement and evaluation