Mark Textor 9 June 2012 Sydney Morning Herald
One of the consequences of an increasingly expansive financial and political media field is the need for content to fill it. Some content is important. Most is borderline trivial, certainly irrelevant. But that has never discouraged the commentators. This search for content to feed the hungry commentariat has led to the rise and rise of the ”process story”. The ”process story” is about campaign mechanics, whether it be a political campaign or a big market offer, not about the issues of the campaign. It’s often no more than bundled-up gossip: who is important, who is not, the leaks, the expenditure, the personalities, the buzz and the fizz of the functioning of campaigns. These stories are almost always written by people who have never actually resided in a campaign headquarters of any worth.
After 25 years of sitting in more campaign HQs than I can count, I can assure you they are far from Hollywood in nature. They are more like a frontline base camp. Something to be survived, and savoured much later, rather than enjoyed.
To give you a true sense of the inner circle’s mindset here are a few survival tips.
One: Look after your feet. Campaign headquarters staff spend inordinate amounts of time in their shoes. If you go into any campaign HQ in its hectic last weeks, you will find staffers walking around in their socks because footrot has set in.
Two: Avoid the booze. The big decisions are made at 5am. It’s hard to make a sound decision when you are hungover before daybreak.
Three: Keep your lips sealed. The smallest piece of campaign gossip will inevitably become a story if it gets out.
Four: The biggest mistake you can make is to not tell someone you have made a mistake. Campaigns are planning machines. There is a process and a meeting for everything, including dealing with crises. But there is no machinery for the crises you don’t know about and the worst thing in politics is the surprise that bites you in the arse on a Tuesday morning.
Five: Ignore media commentators and stick to your part of the plan. Especially ignore their strategy, marketing poll interpretations. There are almost no former journalists who have been successful campaign managers. This is because they are tactically focused on Monday morning’s headlines and not the long-term strategy required to get a consistent and, critically, a salient message to the public.
Six: Look after your soul. The corruption of the soul happens in small steps, not big leaps. If you have a family, keep a picture of them in your wallet or on your screen. When you have a spare minute, call a loved one or mate. When you have a spare day, spend it with loved ones, not feeding your own need for career recognition by being a stayer in campaign headquarters just to be seen. They are the ones who are most likely to get your mindset out of the campaign bubble, to help you understand what’s happening in the real world. You are not more important than your family, friends or the community you serve. Nor is any campaign.
Seven: As they say in the Tour de France, pace yourself and wait for the mountains. Energy is finite. Save it for the times of greatest pressure. Waste no energy on that which does not matter. If nothing is happening, get some sun.
Eight: Be frank. You are not there to be popular. Only useful. If you are aching to say things are wrong, tell your colleagues, not outsiders.
Nine: Eat well. You don’t win a race on McDonald’s. Nor do you win a campaign on it. A colleague was once even diagnosed with scurvy during a campaign.
Ten: If you gamble on a campaign you are fired. Gambling in politics is a corruption of the democratic process.
Regardless, soak up that responsibility. Unlike the spectators, your actions have consequences on those relying on you. While this responsibility must be taken seriously, it is satisfying. Don’t enjoy being on the campaign, enjoy the satisfaction of the successful execution of your responsibilities.
Unshowered staffers, bad coffee, crap hours, crowded offices, rubbish food, people wandering around in their socks as well as lonely fathers, partners and any semblance of a normal life temporarily trashed. It ain’t the West Wing but it is an experience to remember fondly, especially if you win.
Original article here
CT Group link here