How to Run for Office: Building Your Message Calendar - National Democratic Training Committee

Most people don’t schedule their week’s worth of social media content ahead of time — but then again, candidates aren’t most people. While it might sound a bit tedious, planning out what content you’re going to post, what platform you’re going to post it on, and what time of day that content will go live is a great way to stay on top of your communications strategy. This is especially helpful down the road when the campaign starts to get really hectic.

So, how do you stay organized with all this content? Enter: your message calendar.

A message calendar, also referred to as a communications calendar, is a tool you will build and use to organize your communications strategy in conjunction with significant dates or events over the course of the campaign trail.

Your message calendar is a great way to plan your media posts and communications ahead of time so that you can stay one step ahead instead of posting things in reaction to events or other candidates’ commentary.

This tool also helps you plan ahead on what form of communication you’re going to send out: a social media post, a blog, an email, or any other kinds of communications you’re using to engage your voters. Maybe it’s a post that you should make on your campaign website (don’t forget to check out our blog on campaign website basics!). You’d be surprised by how easy it is to fall behind on your communications plan if you’re not thinking at least one step ahead.

You’re going to want to build your communications calendar very early on in your campaign. Here’s a breakdown of what dates you should include:

  • Election dates (primary & general): including these helps you plan your communications that urge people to the polls in support of your campaign.
  • Filing dates
  • Campaign event dates: include fundraisers, meet & greets, rallies, etc. — anything that your campaign is hosting that you want to boost turnout for.
  • Holidays (national & local): you can capitalize on a lot of these holidays by making posts pertinent to these holidays; there also days you should be aware of where it’s respectful to have a ‘silent’ day where you don’t post anything at all.
  • Significant local events: you should be aware of events like concerts, sporting events, and other local dates — it might be a good time to show up at these events and snap a couple of pictures there so you can post them to your campaign’s Facebook account.
  • Events you’re attending as a candidate: these can include conferences you’re attending, dinners hosted by issue organizations, or other candidates’ events — it’s a good way to show engagement in the community outside of your campaign.
  • Local and state government legislation voting dates: this is especially one of those cases where it’s best to be one step ahead; you’ll want to be aware of voting dates so that you can be informed of new legislation and have your opinion ready in case you’re asked about it

This sounds like a ton of content, but don’t worry: you don’t need to post or send out content every single day.

Respect the inbox, respect the newsfeed, respect yourself.

You don’t want to spam your supporters’ social media or email inboxes — not only does it annoy them, but it tarnishes your reputation. If you feel that a particular social media post isn’t necessary, then go with your gut and don’t publish it. You don’t want to create content that folks don’t want.

Use your message calendar to build a schedule that’s full of content that people both want and need.

One last thing about your communications calendar: make it digital. The essential staffers on your campaign will need to be able to access it anywhere. Check out this tutorial on how to build a calendar in Google Docs.

Stay organized. Stay ahead. Stay on top of your communications. You’ll thank yourself in the end.

Tomorrow we’ll talk quality content.

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