Campaigning for public office is more than shaking hands and kissing babies. Your political biography sets the tone for who you are as a candidate and reveals who you are as an individual. It establishes an image that conveys your values, qualifications and passion for the position. Don’t hold back as you write a story that compels voters to choose you in the next election. Consider a political biography an opportunity to establish an image that leaves a lasting impression.
Begin by taking inventory of your personal and professional experiences. Write down key information such as your age, family, education, job titles, community service activities, civic engagement, awards and the public service offices you’ve held. Write a separate list of qualities that separate you from the other candidates running for office.
Collect photographs, memorabilia and videos that can serve as supporting documentation for your skills and experiences. If possible, take some new pictures that reinforce your commitment to the district you wish to serve. Remember that potential voters are drawn to candidates who are charismatic and accessible. Photographs and videos can fortify the words used to describe you.
Write your Story
Use the information you’ve collected to write your story. Be clear and concise with your words and remember that most voters will not know who you are. The tone of your biography should fit the candidate you espouse to be. Begin with background information that defines who you are as a person. Next, describe your skills and experiences that make a case for why you're best suited for the position. Finish with a statement of purpose or rationale for running. For print materials, intermingle photos that back up your biography. For a website, intermix photographs and video to bring your words to life. Be sure to have several people read and review your political biography, prior to publishing it.
Ask a campaign volunteer to write a version of your political biography and compare it to the one you wrote. Reading a biography written by someone who knows you and the campaign field will offer you a different perspective. You will likely need a shorter version that is a paragraph or less, to be used in leaflets or brochures. A longer version that is a one page or more can be used for a website. Write your political biography in the third person, as if someone else is speaking about you. Finally, address any negative personal issues in your biography so that you can be in control of the message at the beginning of the campaign.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.