Consultants are a valuable resource for all but the most local campaigns. Political consulting firms should bring professional knowledge, tools, and resources to the table that campaigns can take advantage of at relatively reasonable prices.
As more and more campaigns utilize the services of political consulting firms, many more such companies have been formed, with the result that the industry is now more competitive, more affordable, and more widespread. If your campaign is thinking about hiring a consultant, be sure to read our recent article 4 Questions to Ask before Hiring a Political Consultant. If you’re ready to engage a firm (or already have), here are three ways to make sure you get the most out of the relationship:
1. Understand that YOU are in Charge
Professional consultants bring a lot to the table, but ultimately, the campaign is in the candidate’s (and the staff’s) hands. That means that when push comes to shove, it is the candidate and his or her key staff members who must make the ultimate decisions on which way is most likely to win.
If you’re new to politics, for many of your decisions you will want to take the advice of your consultants – they’ve been there and you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. However, if you just can’t reach agreement on a key point of campaign strategy, ultimately the buck stops with the candidate.
2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Because the consultant will most likely not be working out of your office or be with you on a daily basis, it is imperative that you stay in touch with your political consulting firm, and that they stay in touch with you. They should be reachable in emergencies, and deliver on promises on time and on budget.
Communicate your goals and objectives clearly to your consultant, and ask for updates and progress reports on a regular basis. Plan in-person meetings as often as reasonable, but not so much that it becomes unproductive or inefficient.
3. Make Great Decisions, then Trust Your Consultant
Take the time, early in the process, to pick a great consultant – not a good consultant, a great consultant. Engage a professional and well regarded political consulting firm or individual operative, and then work with your team to write a great comprehensive campaign plan. If you take your time on these steps, you can trust your consultant and your plan. When you disagree with your consulting firm (and you will) think about that trust, and consider their years of experience before dismissing their ideas for your campaign.