Top Tips for Running in your Students' Union Elections
Running in your union elections is one of the best, more rewarding things you can do, but boy is it hard work! I ran for VP of my union and I got it (yay!), but I’m by no means an expert, these are just a few things I’ve picked up along the way! I’ve compiled my top tips, for running the best election campaign - of course it's super important to be aware of your own union's rules whilst the reading this! These were just things that worked for me, there's no guarantee, but they are some things I wish I'd known when I ran. Self care. Before I get into the tactical stuff, let's address this. Making sure you're eating well, getting enough sleep and looking after yourself is THE most important thing you can do when campaigning. Taking an hour out of campaigning for a well-deserved nap will serve you better than burning out.
Find a good team. You’ll be surprised at how many people will be willing to help you! Whether they’re someone who will spend every waking moment speaking to strangers about how amazing you are, or someone who will just share every status you put up, make sure they know how much you appreciate them!
Know your strengths! If you’re a wiz kid on design - great! If not, just find a friend who is! If you don’t know anyone on sports teams, try asking a sporty friend to put in a good word for you. Arty friends can help with banners, dancers could do a flash mob. Call in favours, use whatever you have in your toolbox - you’ll be surprised at the many talents and skills you have in your team when you sit down and think about it!
Don’t annoy people. The amount of times I’ve heard people say ‘I’m not voting for him/her/them, they’re so annoying!’. Whether this is adding people to groups without their permission, or interrupting people whilst they’re trying to eat/study, think about how it would feel to be in their shoes with everything you do.
Be direct. One thing my team did when speaking to people, was ask ‘would you be interested in casting your vote now?’. If the answer was ‘yes’, they would hand over an iPad and make a point to move away, to ensure that the student didn’t feel pressured into voting for a certain person. This worked really well because often people intend to vote, but just don’t get around to it, this way they get the opportunity to vote on the spot.
Be visual. Try to have a running theme through all your campaign material so people automatically connect it to you. Try to be around on campus as much as possible but be wary of the fact that you will pretty much always be being watched. This is not a great time to get super drunk and make a fool of yourself in the SU bar!
Be nice. It sounds stupid but trust me. Ensure that in everything you do as part of your campaign, you are unfailingly nice and fair. No one is going to dislike you for running an honest campaign and being consistently pleasant, and whether you win or lose, you can be safe in the knowledge that you ran a good campaign, with no dirty tricks.
Most of all, enjoy it! It can be stressful and difficult but it’s an experience you’ll never forget. You’ll realise who your friends are, and how capable you really are. You’ll learn so much about yourself and about running a campaign, so no matter which way it goes, you should be incredibly proud of yourself!