How To Become A Political Strategist In 8 Steps (With Skills)

Updated 28 August 2023

As the largest democracy in the world with thousands of registered parties and millions of voters, there is a demand for savvy strategists in the political arena in India. Political strategists build credibility for their candidates with precise and targeted campaigns and help political parties nurture a positive public image. If you are interested in a fast-paced political career, you can consider becoming a political strategist. In this article, we explain how to become a political strategist and discuss the role's duties, responsibilities and skills so that you can decide whether to pursue this influential career.

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What Is A Political Strategist?

Also known as political advisors or consultants, political strategists work with politicians and political parties to help them run successful election campaigns. They support their candidates in delivering powerful messages to the public, responding to negative press, building their public persona and securing funds for their campaigns. They collaborate with public relations managers, volunteers, campaign staff, donors and other political executives to improve the candidate's chances of winning an upcoming election. Political strategists specialise in various competencies such as:

  • Polling: They design and run opinion polls to analyse the perceptions of their target audience and create political strategies based on polling results.

  • Opposition research: Some political strategists specialise in revealing the weaknesses of opposition candidates by identifying ideological inconsistencies and personal transgressions.

  • Data analysis: Political strategists use various data analysis tools and technologies to gather voter insights and improve campaign outcomes.

  • Fundraising: A few strategists specialise in raising money for the campaign by connecting with potential donors and businesses.

Related: What Is A Political Scientist? (With Skills And Job Options)

How To Become A Political Strategist?

While there is no defined path, knowing how to become a political strategist can help start your career in the political arena:

1. Understand the duties and responsibilities of a political strategist

Being aware of the role's responsibilities can help you get a clear idea of the job duties and decide whether you are interested in pursuing a career in this challenging and dynamic field. Here are a few day-to-day activities that you are likely to do once you become a political strategist:

  • Develop strategic plans for political campaigns based on research about the opposition and voters

  • Conduct in-depth research about your candidates and develop effective campaign strategies based on their strengths

  • Prepare speeches and other campaign materials such as television debate responses, brochures and pamphlets

  • Discuss the campaign strategy with clients and offer them advice about campaign tactics and messaging

  • Train candidates on how to deliver speeches effectively and handle difficult questions from the media

  • Recruit and monitor volunteers and other junior campaign managers to support your candidates during elections

  • Plan various public relations (PR) events such as organising rallies, fundraisers and interviews

  • Provide real-time feedback and advice to candidates to optimise their public speeches

  • Develop marketing and advertising campaigns to promote your candidates and their causes in print and digital media

  • Conduct opinion polls and optimise your candidate's campaigns based on the collected data

Related: Popular Career Options In Political Science (With Skills And Duties)

2. Earn a bachelor's degree

While there are no specific educational requirements to become a political strategist, completing a bachelor's degree in relevant fields like public relations, political science or international relations can help you gain a robust theoretical understanding of the field. A bachelor's degree equips you with the skills to develop successful political campaigns. Also, it introduces the various research methodologies and data analysis techniques that can help you monitor and optimise the performance of your campaigns and strategies. It also prepares you for any challenges you might encounter in the field and teaches you techniques to overcome them.

Related: What Are The Benefits Of Getting A Political Science Degree?

3. Complete a master's degree

A master's in political science or political economy provides you with in-depth knowledge to prepare for a political consulting career. It also teaches you the techniques to analyse elections, legislature, public policies, executive governments, development and international politics. Completing a master's in a relevant stream is an added advantage while applying for jobs or pitching to clients, as it demonstrates that you have formal training and education in the field.

4. Gain internship experience

Besides completing formal education, any practical experience you gain by volunteering at political parties, organisations or election campaigns is a bonus addition to your resume. If possible, you can apply for an internship with a senior political strategist or political consulting company during your college years. It allows you to observe political strategists performing various campaign-related duties, allowing you to learn more about the job before you begin a full-time position.

Related: 10 Benefits Of An Internship (Including A Definition)

5. Enrol in a public relations diploma course

Public relations help politicians and political parties represent themselves positively and deliver important messages. PR aids political candidates, parties, campaigns and governmental organisations in leveraging their images to achieve strategic political goals such as winning elections. Completing a one-year diploma course in public relations can help you gain the knowledge and skills to build and establish positive public personas for your clients or candidates. Some of the critical topics covered in a PR course include:

  • Public affairs

  • Media relations

  • Online and social media communications

  • Offline community relations

Related: How To Get Public Relations Jobs (With Duties And Job List)

6. Grow your network

Politics is a highly inter-connected industry and the broader your professional network, the more opportunities to find jobs through recommendations from colleagues, mentors and other acquaintances you have made in the field. Another benefit of having an expansive political network is that it helps you build credibility. As a political strategist, a strong positive reputation can help secure more prominent campaigns. For example, if a previous client or political party you worked with vouches for your competence and efficiency, it makes it easier to connect with prospective candidates.

Here are a few ways to build your professional network:

  • Leverage social media and other online communities. Build digital connections with vendors, volunteers, consultants and supporters you worked with on previous campaigns. This helps you leverage your existing connections when you require introductions or references for future campaigns.

  • Build your personal narrative. Identify your key strengths and the insights you have gained from previous campaigns and build your brand around them. This helps you differentiate yourself from other candidates and can be a starting point for conversations with clients, candidates and political parties.

  • Connect with consultants and vendors. Build a personal connection with consultants, vendors and other political executives you have worked with in previous campaigns. Explain your skills and let them know you are looking for other opportunities in the field.

  • Build a cordial relationship with your counterparts. After a hard-fought campaign, exchange pleasantries with your peers and acknowledge their efforts. This helps you build positive relationships with people across parties, which could be helpful later in your career.

  • Attend political events. Participating in workshops and conferences related to political strategy can help you meet and connect with others with similar interests and goals.

Related: How To Introduce Yourself Professionally

7. Develop your knowledge of current political events

Aspiring political strategists require a strong understanding of current local, national and international events and trends. Read vernacular and English-language newspapers and subscribe to political magazines and other relevant publications. Furthermore, contributing to online political discussions can help build credibility and develop your digital authority. Staying up-to-date on critical political issues enables you to create strategies that address voters' local and global concerns.

8. Build your portfolio

As you gain practical skills via internship and volunteering experiences, gather and collect your achievements in an online portfolio, which you can share with prospective employers. The portfolio can be a website or a professional social media page that displays your past wins, political beliefs, goals and other aspirations. A detailed portfolio of your political experience helps demonstrate your strengths and skills to potential employers and can help you secure the right roles in the field.

Related: 10 Political Researcher Skills (With Job Outlook And Salary)

Political Strategist Skills

Here are some of the skills that can help you build a successful career in the fast-paced field of politics:

  • Communication: Strong communication skills help political strategists write impactful speeches that help their candidates perform better in elections. Furthermore, oral communication and active listening skills can help you collaborate smoothly with other campaign team members.

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills: Dynamic problem-solving skills can help you overcome challenges that arise during campaigns. The ability to think critically can help you re-examine campaign strategies and update your methods based on changing public opinion.

  • Political knowledge: A strong understanding of local and national politics helps you make decisions that benefit your candidates. Studying and analysing past and current political movements, elections and campaigns helps enhance your campaign strategies and connect with voters.

  • Observational skills: Sharp observation can help you notice minute changes in public opinion and create optimised PR and marketing materials to improve the public perception of your candidates.

  • Research skills: Being good at research and data analysis can help you understand the political landscape and create enhanced strategies that deliver favourable election results.

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