Once you know what to say, you need to figure out how best to say it. A strategic approach will maximise your impact so rather than trying to run through your entire manifesto with every person you meet, think about which messages and manifesto points will resonate with particular groups of students.
You could also build a narrative by focusing on different elements of your manifesto throughout the campaign, using short videos or social media graphics to highlight specific policies.
a. Creating campaign materials
Most candidates will create some kind of campaign materials, generally posters and flyers. These can help get the message out there about your campaign while also providing key information like how to vote and when voting opens.
As a candidate, you’ll have a budget (£90 if you’re a Sabbatical Officer candidate, or £30 if you’re running for another elected rep position) and you can’t spend more than this, so think carefully about how much campaigning you can realistically manage. You can also spend your campaigning budget on more unusual items like campaign t-shirts and badges.
You can order printing directly through the election website and your campaign materials will be printed by the University who will email you when they’re ready to collect.
You can also order printing online or through local print shops, but if you do that you’ll need to keep any receipts or invoices to claim back your expenses, and keep a track of your spending so you don’t exceed the limit for your role.
There are specific locations around the University that you can use to display your posters - check out the election regulations for more detailed information: X.
Some University buildings may allow you to display posters but this is at the discretion of staff, so check with them first to avoid your posters being taken down.
If you’re putting posters up inside, pins or Blu Tac are great, but if they’re going up outside and you want them to last the week pop your poster onto a cardboard backing using glue or wallpaper paste, and attach them to lampposts and railings using cable ties.
Some of the best poster locations will be hotly contested when campaigning starts, so consider turning up early to save yourself a good spot.
b. Making a campaign video
Making a campaign video can be a fun and accessible way of sharing your manifesto and introducing yourself to voters.
You can create great quality videos on most phones, but if you want something a little more professional you can borrow recording equipment from the Library: www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/computing/audio-visual-multi-media/audio-visual-loans.
Whether you want something sincere and to the point, or a bit more light-hearted, our top tips for a great campaign video are to plan what you’re saying to cut down on rambling and use text to highlight key points.
c. Using social media
Most of us use at least one social media platform, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, and they’re a great way to get your campaign out there. Whether you set up a Facebook page to share your manifesto or are more about documenting your campaign journey on Instagram stories, the key is to produce the kind of content you would naturally share.
“Tag yourself” memes, behind-the-scenes GIFs, and inspirational videos are more likely to get engagement than sharing your PDF manifesto every day, and they can have a genuine message too.
d. In-person campaigning
Face-to-face campaigning can be tiring, but it’s the most effective way of campaigning, as people are more likely to vote if they feel like you have a genuine connection.
There are lots of ways to campaign in-person from lecture shout-out and knocking on doors in halls, to chatting to people in your tutorials, outside the Library, and on the bus to KB. The key is to be focused: perfect your elevator pitch but don’t let it become robotic, ask students about their own experiences and what they’d like to change.
Your friends can also help but consider giving them a script to stick to so they don’t get lost half way through the conversation. You can also make sure you’re on hand in case students have more in-depth questions about you as a candidate or your campaign.
Talking to lots of strangers in one go can be draining, particularly if you’re not a natural extrovert, so consider doing face-to-face campaigning in short bursts and switching to a more low-energy form of campaigning when you feel your enthusiasm dipping.
e. Using your networks
Your existing networks of friends, classmates and society members are your biggest assets so don’t forget to use them. Self-promotion is cringe-y, but if you genuinely believe you’re the best person for the role there’s no shame in asking people you know to share a Facebook post or message their friends.
You could even ask for five minutes at the start of a society event or club practice to do a shout-out about your campaign, and if they like you they could official endorse you which might be a big boost to your campaign (for guidance on society and club endorsements, check out the election regulations: X).
Just make sure you thank everyone who helps you, whatever the result.