Here’s an interesting thought I’ve been mulling around for a couple of months now, and wanted to put it out for anyone to spitball and contribute.
Here at PPAU we’ve got some great policies, great members and great ideals. Naturally they don’t cover every part of Australia at the moment. If you were standing for election in a seat as a PPAU candidate, what would you be doing in the local community in the lead up (even 1, 2 years out) to give yourself a local profile for people to know you?
Remember people don’t always focus on policy. A lot of communities want to focus on the people they are electing and what they do and will do for the local community.
To start with, I’m thinking of starting to help out with charity events in the greater local area, whether its a soup kitchen, outreach service or similar to add to my portfolio. Then becoming involved in community organisations, involving with local business groups to increase my profile.
TL; DR What else could you do to put yourself out there personally into your community so if you run for parliament people would recognise you as being from their community?
I certainly do not wish to put a dampener on anything, but speaking entirely for myself, my perception of PPau is that it is the party to appeal to nerds and technologists (and I do not accept there is anything derogatory implied in the former appellation.)
However, what is required in a political front-person is a mind-set almost (but naturally I hope not entirely!) precluded by the very attributes which attract an individual to this party. What is required is a thinking, trustworthy, quick-thinking and committed salesperson type. I don’t know just how many internal contradictions I have just delineated, but suspect it is rather a lot…
Perhaps a compromise is to find the “right” personality and to surround them with a support group of less limelight-seeking members. (I know, worded badly; please substitute softer language as appropriate.)
Having experienced representing the Pirate Party on the ground through two election campaigns (Federal 2013, Qld By-election), I can say that, fortunately, we have broad appeal when it comes to communicating with voters.
You get the initial “lolol Pirate what”, but then they approach you, look at the how to vote card, see the policies, and then you get this different smile of “what just happened this is amazing do I vote for you now?”
We can have both: appeal to technologists and the general public. It’s all about communication.
Yeah, I’ve had similar experiences most recently when handing out flyers at the March Australia thing a couple of weeks ago in Hobart - “Oh, evidence based policy you say? What an incredible idea! Why is nobody else doing this?”
This is the sort of conversation I was hoping to spark!
There’s nothing wrong with appealing to nerds and technologists but obviously there are only so many of them who care about us. Policies are great too; as Brendan said, we have great policies that make even die hard Labor and Liberal supports take another look. But it’s all about communication, and this is what I’d like to think further into and see what we (as members) think about the best way to approach this. Rather than throwing an ‘unknown’ onto the ballot sheet, thinking ahead and planning a move into politics.
If you’re planning a future candidacy yes I’d say definitely getting involved in local community organisations, etc is helpful. Perhaps think of it as network-building rather than profile-raising. Of course get involved in community groups in order to support them - they’ll resent it if they feel you just want to be involved to promote your future candidacy.
Don’t forget there’s different levels of support you want to cultivate. Networks you connect with through community groups might in fact be most helpful in finding people who are going to support your campaign as volunteers or donors, so you don’t necessarily need to gain a high public profile from it, the supporter network building may be very useful anyway. Building a high public profile is harder and may require some patience, but if you get the opportunity to become a spokesperson for a group or campaign you’ve been helping run, that can be very effective.
I considered running in the local government elections (as an independent) which are about to take place in all councils in Tasmania. I decided not to in the end, but I have been thinking about what I could do for next time around.
Involvement in community groups is important. At the moment I’m involved in a number of organisations (you can check my profile page URL if you want to know the details) but if you have a local community association or school P&F association (if you have kids at school that is!) they could also be appropriate.
Frequent comments on local news websites and letters to the editor on relevant topics can also help to get your name out there.
A friend was successful on his first attempt at a local council. Six candidates for 2 or 3 seats, if I remember correctly. He was born and raised in the area, had worked overseas, and then returned. Worked in IT and this was his focus - he was the spokesperson for a local consumer digital advocacy group and so was in the media frequently. He also had been a volunteer with the SES for some time which I think indicates trustworthiness. He has been involved with Lions Club for a while (since he was quite young), while I don’t know much about them, I understand it helps so far as networking goes.
Of course there is online activity (social media) but I figure a lot of us have that covered!
I’d focus on community service work, but also getting information out there about the Pirate Party. I think there is a level of mentality amongst some people that we wear pirate hats and say arrrgghhh alot. I’d organising fundraising events for local charities and sports teams including getting a venue, dinner and entertainment or a music festival. But also just standing on a soapbox and doing a pirate party report to people in the community to get the information out there.
I found that talking with people about how we stand for things (as opposed to just against things) seemed to go down really well - It’s probably refreshing for some to have a conversation about the Australia we’d like to see, rather than the one we’re afraid of it becoming. I think we Pirates can forget how pervasive the negatively-geared decisions, discussion and policy often is with other groups.
Local gov is, I think, a completely different kettle iof fish. It’s hyper-local. We’re talking bins and footpaths. It’s grubby as frack because a lot of members are also “business people” and are either doing a Cliev Parma or a Jakee Lambee
But we all know this, right? So here’s where the Pirate philosophy comes in. Open governance, consultative, democratic, evidence based etc etc. Basically - everything local gov isn’t. Residents hate local gov culture, and I’d bet that’s true nation-wide.
There’s a contest in my local gov area in a year-and-a-bit and I’m thinking on it quite hard too.
I’d think our positive, progressive and welcoming message would fit well working with progressive, community based organisations and the like. I look at it more like embedding with the community than networking with people or groups.
I think serious community work which follows the Pirate way is what positively increases our profile. Plus, actively trying to recruit everyone you meet also helps
Someone suggested to me that I run for local government largely as an exercise in getting our name and message out there. The Tassie local government elections are interesting because it’s a postal ballot, and the ballot comes with a sheet listing all the candidates names, photos and a brief statement from each, so ignoring any advertising candidates might do, you still end up in front of a lot of people (also they cap the amount of money you’re allowed to spend on your campaign, the amount of airtime you get, etc., which seems to me to be quite good for leveling, or somewhat leveling, the playing field).
Personally I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to run for local council just to promote the party. If I ran for local council I’d want to be doing it to unfuck local things, and right now that’s not something I’m able to dedicate myself to sufficiently to be a decent candidate. I do agree with @Joe though that local government could do with some serious Pirate philosophy input If you’re in for the right reasons and this results in getting the message out about the party, win-win, right?
…and, not that this is specifically about raising any individual’s profile, but we’re trying to get some public talks/events going each month in Hobart, in the evening after the regular local pirate meeting. The first of these will be next Thursday:
In terms of party-building I think holding public events like that is a great idea and should help establish local member/supporter bases.
Also regular stalls at community events are good, especially if you maintain that regular presence throughout the election cycle rather than just in the lead-up to an election. It may also be worth considering any trade/industry events or other kinds of events that have a niche audience that may be particularly attracted to PPAU to try and have a presence at. Stalls at events will usually cost $$$ of course, but sometimes you can collect enough donations from the stall to at least recoup the cost. If you’re running stalls though it’s really useful to have something for people to do that gives them a reason to stop at your stall. A petition on a topical issue that people can sign I’ve found can be very good, but it can be hard to predict what issue people will respond to, I’m sure we have some people with more creative/unique ideas for stalls. Unfortunately if you’re running a regular stall the biggest challenge can often be to find the vollies to run it. I knew local Greens branches with 100+ members who couldn’t get vollies to maintain a regular market stall.
Given our member base and its age bracket, “networking”.
If you’ve got 2 years, use it to build a following on a small selection of big social media.
Be personable, be rational, be fun, be a bit radical, but be constructive and responsive.
Do not do negative. Consistently look like the solution.
Treat it like a 2 year AMA, but do stuff and post about that too.
Cross-link and cross-promote your 2 year AMA with other future PPAU candidates doing the same.
BTW I don’t think this is so much of an issue for PPAU candidates given we’re starting from a lower base, but certainly for the larger parties the impact of social media is still easily over-estimated. It is still most effective for engaging supporters rather than the wider voter base.
I’m told that the WA Greens did some exit polling after the Senate re-election which found that despite all of Scott Ludlam’s online presence, when voters were asked where they had heard of Scott Ludlam, most said through mainstream media and only a smaller number through social media.
Having said that I totally agree with Andrew’s suggestions. Please don’t copy my style of social media use - I’m not interested in being a candidate!