How to win your next student election campaign

Running as the student council president is no easy feat. You have to convince other students what you stand for, what your manifesto is, and how you can help them by standing for the common interests of all the students.

A student council is perhaps one of the most important organizations for students at a university. It’s an organized platform built and run by students that represents their opinions and demands as a whole. If you’re someone who’s contesting in the next student elections on your campus, read on to find out what you need to do to win. While there’s no fixed, universal formula to win a student election, here are some things you need to consider.

Prepare a great manifesto

Having a clear manifesto is the backbone of your election campaign. Without it, you can’t convince anyone to vote for you. The question then is, what does a good manifesto entail? A good manifesto makes you look suitable as the head of the student council. It contains:

  • A problem that all or most students face in a university. This could be a particular university policy pertaining to enrollment or any other thing.
  • A proposed solution to that problem. You have to come up with a concrete roadmap to solving that problem.
  • Identify steps of milestones to the proposed solution. This helps break down your solution into clear and measurable steps.

Once you have prepared your manifesto, it’s time to make it presentable in a way that your audience can digest it. The easiest way to do this is to use an online graphic design tool like PosterMyWall, which contains dozens of campaign poster templates, to present your manifesto in an easy-to-understand way.

Presenting the manifesto

While it may be easy to prepare a manifesto, the tricky bit is to mold it into a presentable form so that your audience relates to it. As mentioned earlier, using student council posters is the best way to put yourself forward. 

A poster lets you convey your message to your audience in a simple easy-to-understand way. I highly recommend using visuals and images because they’re great attention catchers. Also, a poster won’t give you much real estate to go into a lot of technicalities, so what’s the best way to catch other students’ attention? By invoking some pain points.

Is enrollment stressful because the university website goes down when the entire campus is fighting to get the most popular courses? Has the hostel canteen’s food quality declined recently? Mention these issues at the top and bold them. These are the pain points that will gather your audience’s attention.

Word of mouth can take you a long way

Putting up your campaign posters around your campus’s high-traffic areas isn’t enough — you need to mobilize your supporters to advertise for you. Use your network to advertise your campaign. Not only should your supporters just advertise but convince other students how having you as the student council president can help the entire student body at the university.

It’s an excellent idea to host an open house just a couple of days before election day. This will give all the students the opportunity to listen to first-hand what you have to offer. Encourage the audience to ask questions — that will help you get goodwill and get you in a strong and confident position against your competitors.

Harness the power of social media

Now, there’s no need to run paid ads on social media because you aren’t selling a product to the general audience. Instead, you should focus on marketing on your university’s social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and more. How? Post the flyers you put up on campus on social media, accompanied by a catchy caption.

Apart from that, you could consistently make posts about the problems students face all year long. But do that the entire year, not just before elections otherwise, it would seem obvious that you’re just doing it to win the elections. Engaging with your audience is a year-long effort because it gives you time to build a rapport with them and gain their trust.

A final piece of advice

The only way you can win the upcoming student elections is by convincing every student on campus that there’s no better candidate than you. And for that, you need a clear roadmap of how you can solve the students’ problems. 

Marketing yourself is another matter altogether and can be approached in various ways but the bottom line is you have to build trust and a rapport. That means you should be engaged with the student body throughout the last year and preferably more. When you have a good pre-existing relationship with most students on the campus, your campaigning won’t be perceived as something you seek but rather something that would benefit everyone.