Political Campaigns: Digital Strategies & Platforms

by Azlina Adnan
Political Campaigns: Digital Strategies & Platforms
© Kaleidico on Unsplash 

Azlina Adnan share her experience on attending International Academy For Leadership (IAF) seminars with topic Campaigning: Strategy and Tools. Let’s follow her story below:

As a political party-affiliated facilitator, being a participant in an online seminar gave me the much-needed experience and ideas should I attempt to use the same platform in the near future. It was also very enriching to know and to work with other committed and talented participants from across the globe.

The seminars categorized into 3 structure:

  1. Global:  for all participants to attend together. In total there were 8 global sessions. The local time started at 9 pm and lasted about 2 hours.
  2. Regional: participants had the choice to attend the Eastern/ Western session. The topic conducted was the same for both sessions.
  3. Topic: there were 2 different topics conducted on the same day but in different time slots. Participants were required to attend at least one of them. I chose to attend both as I feel there were both on topics that interest me.

The topics presented were extensive and the challenges given related to the actual groundwork a political campaigner has to do. The first two sessions were on culture and cultural analysis. When I first looked at the topic, I thought it was rather trivial. Was I wrong! Probably after such a long period of time spent on political work/activities, we overlooked the culture of our own organization and just accepted it. This session made me realized that I could make the effort to build a more positive organizational culture within my own capacity.

Another topic that sparked a lot of interest was on using the metrics to measure progress in our campaign. Of course, there is no one-method-fix-all solution as every campaign is unique and every country’s political situation is different.

The unconference or open space is a concept which I have heard of but have never experienced it myself. I enjoyed this session immensely as it gave me the chance to interact further with the rest of the participants. We might not necessarily found the answers to all our burning questions, but this exercise gave us the chance to listen to our fellow seminar mates on how things are in their own country. It was amazing how similar certain things or situations are albeit the difference in our culture and practice.

The group tasks/challenges were pretty intense, to say the least. It was crafted towards running a presidential election. The majority of the participants were from countries with a presidential-parliamentary system of government. Only Malaysia, Denmark, and Jordan are constitutional monarchy-based countries and therefore have prime ministers as head of the government.

Although the system differs, the core is the same. Some of the campaign work produced was amazing and can be used as a reference in crafting campaign work here in Malaysia.

Holding your fort in any seminar is not an easy task. Much more challenging when it is over the digital platforms. Participants can just mute their microphones and turn off their video. The facilitator could just be talking into ‘space’.

The facilitators - Marike Groenewald, Clinton du Preez, and Warwick Chapman were ever helpful and mindful of the technical glitches we might have encountered. They put in a lot of effort to make the sessions lively.

During the unconference session, Warwick took up the topic Campaign Technology Showcase where among others he spoke about plotting voters to the criteria befitting them. This is also what we have been doing/trying to do when our party went digital in voters management starting 2016.

It was a bit surreal bidding farewell to the people you have not actually met. It was surreal being in the virtual room feeling as though it was an actual one. When Clinton mentioned that he felt as though the only thing separating us was just that screen in front of him, I shared his sentiment exactly.

It is a bitter-sweet moment when we felt as though we have made new friends but we couldn’t even give each other a hug. It was quite an experience. One which I would cherish.

Thank you IAF for giving me this chance. If it was not because of the pandemic, we would perhaps, keep on taking the human connection for granted. We are thankful for the technology we have, which provided us the different platforms with which we could interact, but we are also reminded that nothing can ever replace the physical connection between human beings.

Political Campaigns: Digital Strategies & Platforms