Monday, February 16, 2015

So You Want to Run for CSM...

This year's plethora of candidates makes me wonder what has changed to encourage so many people to step up and put their hat in the ring? The new rule allowing people to run without exposing their real name? Excitement in the game? Fear of the null sec changes on the horizon?

Regardless, I'm going to give some general advice on how to run a campaign to get elected to the Council of Stellar Management.

1) Start Campaigning a Year Ahead of When the Election Starts.

I'm not kidding. If you want to be elected you need to start laying the foundation of a good campaign long before the general public is even thinking about the next election, preferably right after an election finishes. There is so much to be done and it can't be rushed at the last minute.

2) Establish an Electoral Base

You need a lot of support in order to get elected so you need to find a community to represent. If you are in an alliance/coalition bloc, you need to convince them that you should be one of their main sponsored candidates. If you decide to try and represent a community like Low Sec or Multi Boxers or Incursion runners, you have to work to become known in that community and make sure you understand the current issues that trouble the residents of that community. This is where the year long lead in to an election comes in: it gives you time to become know in your chosen community and make inroads into becoming their preferred candidate.

3) Become a Public Figure

Very much related to point 2, you need to expose yourself to your desired voter base by posting in forums, chatting on voice comms, speaking up in chat channels, and generally getting name recognition. Part of this publicity drive is establishing your intelligence, trustworthiness, and personality with people that don't know you and you want to vote for you. Ideally you should be intelligent, trustworthy, and have a decent personality but its not strictly necessary as long as you connect with the voter base in a way that makes them want to vote for you.

If you are a coalition candidate and are number one or two on their ticket for the next election, you can stop there. Otherwise you need to get into the general EVE public vernacular as being associated with your chosen community and being thought of as a good candidate. This means interviews on blogs, newsites, and podcasts long before election time to speak and listen about subject directly and indirectly related to your community. Any positive word of mouth that comes from these appearances helps push undecided voters your direction, and encourages voters outside your community to put you on their ticket even if its later down the list. Every possible vote helps in the long run.

4) Create a Platform

Finally, after months of virtual handshaking and debating the topics, you need to come up with a platform that survives scrutiny and appeals to your base. The media pundits will see through a hastily put together platform of platitudes, and will eviscerate you if you present a platform that is obviously unworkable in the known CSM context, so you need to put some serious thought and time into forming your platform so that you have something that has a direction and reasonable goals. Running on a platform of disbanding Concord  will get you labeled as a crank candidate, for example, as everyone knows CCP will never even consider such a proposal. Also, you don't want to be too specific or have goals too firm because you can't possibly know what you can actually accomplish in the context of CCP's desires and constraints. Basically develop a modest platform that benefits your community and has desirous benefits for other communities.

5) Practice Selling Your Platform

Take your platform and sell it to your closest friends, then you corporation, your community, and then the EVE public at large. Find its weaknesses and have responses for them. Identify what people criticize of it and try to have answers for them too. If your platform needs modification, don't be afraid to do so. Inflexibility is not a sign of a good CSM member. Go on the podcast circuit, give interviews, sell your platform to anyone who will listen. Sell, don't preach; you want people who won't necessarily vote for you to think and speak positively of you to bolster your position in your community and as a secondary vote in other communities. If this sounds a lot like number 3, it is. The first part of your early campaign is making a name for yourself so you can sell your vision as you prepare for the actual campaign.

6) Be Prepared to Lose

Unless you have a coalition sized bloc behind you, winning your first time out takes a lot of charisma, name recognition, and a solid platform. Often first time runners without all these factors will fall short of a seat. This setback can work to your advantage if you lose with grace and run again next year. People like preservation in a CSM member and will think more highly of you if you run again. Spend the year between losing and the next election fine tuning your base, platform, and your pubic persona. It will pay off in a second run as people will think of you as more experienced and worth voting for.

7) Be Prepared to Win

Make no mistake, a winning CSM member is expected to invest a lot of time and effort working for the CSM. If you go through the effort of running in the election and manage to win, make sure you follow up by being a superb member. This involves participating in the discussions, reading the NDA'd forums, communicating with the playbase, researching topics you are not familiar with, and generally having no time to actually play.  Also, you are going to be a target for people who are antagonistic to the CSM process, or are just general trolls, so you will need a thick skin, patience, and more thick skin. Not to mention you are on the council with 13 other strongly opinionated people, some with purposes that are opposed to yours, yet you need to work with them in some capacity for a year. Compromise and diplomacy will be required constantly.

If you're lucky, you will finish your term with your sanity and desire to fly internet spaceships intact. Good luck.

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