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Opinions of Thursday, 29 March 2007

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

We Need Politically, Prototype born-again People for Campaign 2008

Here are the Campaign Strategy

Freebies for Dummies…

Do you think selling is something the insurance agents and the used- car sales people do? Think again. In this turbulent political world it’s said, “The only people who aren’t in the selling business are the blood donors. The rest of us are selling services, ideas, products, image, vision or something” .So for a would-be politician the ability to sell ‘yourself’ to the electorate is imperative, now than ever. -------

IN POLITICS, public perception is vital to a candidate’s survival, such as location is to retail business. In retail business, the key is: location, location, location. And, in politics the key is one’s ability to sell oneself, ideas or visions to the electorates and the public. There is no doubt in my mind that the image, the cloth and accessories you wear, the pen you write with, the car you drive around, all combine to communicate a message to the voters and others ,that can help you or hurt you, on the election day. To deny it, to resist it, or to ignore it, is self-destructive to your political career. It’s said,”what others say about you is at least 1, 000 times more convincing than what you say, even if you’re 2,000 times more eloquent”.

Unfortunately, in today’s politics, one’s ability to be elected is by and large determined by one’s money and name recognition .But, those of us who don’t have money or a recognizable name, the ability to sell yourselves, image and ideas can give you enough votes beyond your own imagination. It should go without saying that no politician can long survive unless he has a ‘household name’ or money. Well, the next general election is about a year away but, I’m ahead of the game. I have put off my other important duties and I have put together a Personal Packaging Strategy on pro bono, for the would –be candidates. So if you have money and concert-quality name recognition, this article is not for you—skips to other articles, you lucky you!

So if you want to run and win;

As a political candidate, your main agenda should be the changing of the socio-economic geography of your district or constituency—I hope. But, the first thing on your list should be:

All your assets must be declared honestly, in the national newspapers. Yes, you should, if you want to be a different breed politician. To serve as a prototype for the entire breed of a new kind of politicians you should stop trying to look and think like everyone else. Unfortunately, ‘status’ which is a form of recognition an individual’s peers award him for above-average contributions to the society—has however, been equated automatically to financial success in our society. Therefore, it seems the achievement of financial success has become the sole motivation and the only worthwhile goal for our modern day politicians.

I find it disheartening that so many bright politicians today conform blindly and rigidly to patterns they believe some majority has decreed are prerequisites for approval by society for success.

2: The number one reason for campaign failure is a person with an inflated ego or with very fragile self-esteem. When voters are mad and calling you names or throwing things at you, remember that it really has nothing to do with you. Maybe, they’re mad at the party you represent or they’re mad at another politician and his lousy job .So don’t take it personally. Again, understand that nothing personal, when the voters question your integrity and they’re skeptical and suspicious. Maybe, you chose to represent a party that “had done them wrong”. So you have to have a strong immunity to criticisms.

3: You should spend ‘quality time’ with the residents of your district, and see how life has short-changed some of them. By spending time, I mean eating with them and if possible spending a night at their homes. You will be amazed by their tenacity and willingness to fight against all the odds in their lives...

4: Articulate your vision (a mission) statement for a common person in the land to understand. A vision statement is a plan for your candidacy, to be accomplished if elected. It will shape your candidacy’s identity, codify a set of principles to act by, and supply a foundation on which to build a future. It also communicates to the electorates the kind of person you are. Your mission statement can be based on your visions, goals, or ethics. It can also be objectives; philosophy or policy.

5: Talk about bread- and- butter issues that affect the average voter and what you can do, instead of the short-comings of the other candidates. Or the other party's shortcomings.

6: Attend to the town meetings, on regular basis. They’re the best Public Relations (PR) tool for any person who wants to sell himself, with limited finances.

7: Your campaign should be able to provide insight into your candidacy and where you want to take the voters. So be honest with your presentations.

8: Have a plan for the moral and ethical positions you stand for and start to live by example. . 9: Unfortunately, candidates are known for notoriously telling the electorate what they want to hear all the time. And, doing otherwise once in office. However, to be a different kind of candidate, you have to spell out how you’re going to get to your objectives when you’re elected. It means you have to tell the voters what they don’t want to hear, sometimes. Trust me, it might not earn you many votes, but it will surely earn you some few friends, respect and good reputation—which are worth more that gold.

10: Learn to listen to people. Realize that just about everybody has a great emotional need to be listened to. If you listen you gain their trust and establish your credibility. You stimulate their interests and they can confide in you. As you listen try to jot down notes. That will tell the other person how much you’re interested in his/her issues. Nothing is more flattering and compelling to a person than having someone else clearly, totally, unwaveringly focused on and intently listening to him or her. Incidentally, should you ever seek to seduce someone, this is the secret: learn to listen and pay attention. And, when you listen try to listen for the following:

a) What keep him/her up at night, unable to sleep and what builds up the anger and resentment. (Examples: armed robbers, lack of hope for his kids, poor health, etc.)

b) What does one fear the most—is it crime or drugs epidemic?

c) what overriding value is most important to him/her, as demonstrated by his/her behavior and prioritized actions— Is it one’s family, marriage, career achievement, wealth security or what?

d) Read one’s body language and try to be observant without encroaching on someone’s personal space.

e) Find ways to build the other person’s self-esteem, whilst you’re listening to the person and let the person have the spot light by subverting your ego.

11: To sell yourself try to give an Award. Let’s say during an occasion, you have opened an envelope, and announced the winner of your Scholarship Foundation Award, for a poor student in your district to have a three-year paid tuition in a secondary school. The news will get around in the local and national papers. The FM stations might pick on it and you might even end up on the national T.V. Better yet, If scholarship is too much for you, what about an award to present a plaque, a unique gift, or a certificate to tireless members of your community who unselfishly contributed their time and effort? What about someone who has shown bravery above and beyond the call of duty to his community?

Another way to sell yourself is to initiate something like an essay contest for senior secondary –bound students in your district and provide reading books for a year to the winners.

Organize a spelling Bee contest for the Secondary school-bound students in your community, and take the winners to visit one of our universities’ campuses to raise aspirations.

You want your name to shine? Ask the community members to choose their best teacher, driver, trader, carpenter, or mason or Police officer and present a small award to the winners—in a form of a tool, T-shirts, books or pay for a trip to the hairstylist’s salon, or to pay for a well-tended nails and a well-applied facial grooming?.

If I were running for an office ,I would Sponsor a contest in my community, to look for the couples who have spent the most marriage years together .I would add more points for those who are willing to counsel newly-wed couples in the community. The winners would be taken to a field trip to any city of their choice, in Ghana. These contests will create goodwill, not to mention name recognition and keep your name on the media’s radar, all year around.

12: Organize tree planting contest or a clean-up campaign in your community and give the winners a small award in a form of gardening seeds or gardening tool.

13: And, if you have special skills, offer your services free to other towns in your district.

14: If you’re an internet savvy, begin to flash your e-mail address like a Swiss Bank account, anywhere you go. And, find time to reply to any e-mail you get from the electorates.

Also, use Fax-on-demand (FOD) for those who are not on line. It’s a system that employs both phone and facsimile technology, to help candidates to be more responsive, professional and in tune with what‘s going on politically. It’s an ideal solution and cost –effective way to answer voters’ questions and receive information. Not only does this give you an opportunity to share your visions and ideas with the public and the media, but it’s the most economical way to sell yourself. No mailing cost, no printing and no tying up your time until necessary.

If you can, try to record your campaign presentations on video disks and give them out. Your credibility right in front of the voters’ eyes will go a long way.

You can also write a column or feature articles in the local and national newspapers. Being a columnist on any topic will open opportunities for you and unlock rewarding avenues, such as speaking engagements in schools and colleges, good visibility and name recognition, all in one effort.

15: Guarantee your political stewardship. This holds as true in politics just as it does in business and any other aspect of human activity. Nothing builds confidence and volume faster or better than a reputation for standing behind one’s work or products. Guarantees should always be honored. A politician that is known to be completely reliable will have little difficulty attracting and retaining voters’ trust and confidence.

16: If you want to win big in any election you need to create a positive ‘Cause’— you believe in and willing to die for. A cause is any life fulfillment endeavor which has some enduring value well beyond the limits of one’ own personal interests. A real cause gives life contentment and genuine sense of accomplishment. And, I must add that one’s involvement in a cause he believes in has little to do with one’s financial or political status in the society.

In the past and present, there are countless examples of individuals—with little money or power—who had priceless contributions to civilization, but they realized little or no monetary reward from what they did. Most of these people died poverty-stricken. So it’s a shame that our modern day politicians don’t seem to have any defined cause they believe in, or they can build other than their bank accounts . Apparently, they have convinced themselves that the amassing of money and the material things it can buy alone signifies ‘success’ and ‘’status’. Get this: we don’t gain social respect only by out- earning, out-enjoying and out-buying those around us. We should remind ourselves time and time that there’s a need to develop an interest in a cause that is lasting, which can out live us. With that is mind, what are you waiting for when the ordinary people—with little money and no special powers— are making a big difference around the world, every day? Do you remember ‘Citizen Bono’? (Who is Bono?)

Well, Bono’s a songsmith and a lead singer of the popular rock group called, U2.He’s also a politically –charged and socially-conscious person who organized the live Aid concert to help poor nations .He has also met everyone from the late Pope John Paul 11 to President George Bush and other world’s leaders, in an effort to achieve debt relief and address poverty and AIDS in underdeveloped world. Very impressive, right? Well, he has a cause to end poverty, in the underdeveloped world. He might not achieve his goals, but he has put his life and energy into it and nothing can stop him. Now, you don’t have to be Oprah or Bill Gates to make your mark( Nelson Mandela did from the prison walls) So why can’t you find your own cause in your own small world and work towards that, in your own way? Don’t wait for an election year. Just do it!

This is a reminder: No matter how an individual is elected or appointed, he must always consider his political position as a means for improving living conditions everywhere, in his district and country. He must remember that he has responsibilities toward his village, town, nation and all those who make him who he is.

So if you have no successful examples to follow in whatever endeavor you choose, you may simply look at what everyone else around you is doing and do the opposite— because the majority is always wrong.

Freebies from a “dreamer”? See you at the Polling Station, in 2008.

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi
*The Writer’s a social –commentator, a founder of the Adu-Gyamfi Youth Empowerment, Educational and Apprenticeship foundation, for the Youths of Asuom, in the Kwaebibirew district, E/R.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.