What Do Political Consulting Firms Do?

Person holding a poll sheet: what do political consulting firms do?

As explained by the Harvard Business Review, consulting is “far more than just giving advice.” So, if consulting offers more, then what exactly do political consulting firms do? Read on to learn more.

At Aristotle, our teams have provided the foundation for campaigns, political action committees (PACs), and advocacy groups for nearly four decades. It is our passion to share this knowledge and help campaigns succeed! After learning more about how a political consulting firm can benefit you, remember to explore another great resource, our data tool, MatchIT. This helpful tool increases the value of your data by harnessing the combined power of your database and ours!

A Brief History of Political Consulting in the United States

Political consulting has evolved over the past century in the United States. Mark Hanna—a political advisor to President William McKinnley in the late 1800s—has sometimes been described as the nation’s first true political consultant. Mr. Hanna developed and implemented a complex strategy to help ensure that the former Governor of Ohio became the Republican nominee in 1896.

A political consulting firm in the more modern sense was first established in the 1930s. Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter were a husband-and-wife team that formed a company called  Campaigns, Inc. They worked for Republican campaigns, especially in California—helping Frank Merriam defeat insurgent candidate Upton Sinclair for governor of the state in 1934.

Of course, political consulting in the 21st century has become far more sophisticated. It is now a billion-dollar industry that is driven by well-honed techniques and political data. Political consulting is by no means limited to U.S. politics. Top political consulting firms work with campaigns and advocacy groups in democracies and republics all around the world.

9 Things a Political Consulting Firm Can Do for its Clients

Political consulting firms offer strategic guidance to election campaigns, political action committees (PACs), and grassroots advocacy organizations. You may be wondering: What does that mean in practice? In 2022, political consultants and strategic consultants can provide a wide array of services to clients.

The list below is just a small subset of the different things that political consultants can do for clients. As the needs of every client in the political realm are unique, your campaign, PAC, or advocacy group must connect with a consulting firm that has the skills, knowledge, and specific experience to serve your best interests. With that said, here are some of the most common things political consulting firms do.

1.      Campaign Management

Campaign management is more complicated than it has ever been. It is crucial that all candidates—and the people that work for them—have the right campaign management infrastructure in place. A political consultant can help.

2.      Strategic Review of Practices

Your campaign or political organization undoubtedly already has policies and practices in place. In some cases, a fresh pair of expert eyes can provide a better view. Many political consults help clients by strategically reviewing their practices and strategies.

3.      Communications Consulting

A key part of modern politics is effective communication. While this has always been true, the communication landscape has changed. People are now more directly connected to candidates and political groups.

4.      Media Training

Knowing how to deal with the media—from traditional media to social media—is an important part of the political process. A strategic political consultant can help campaigns and advocacy groups with media training and other related matters.

5.      Political Data and Data Analysis

Political campaigns and political organizations that are not data-driven are going to fall behind. Knowing how to obtain, manage, and use political data is essential. A political consulting firm can help with data issues.

6.      Political Research

Strategic political consultants often offer research-related services to their clients. Both qualitative data and quantitative data can be used and analyzed to help develop and implement more effective strategies.

7.      Fundraising and Donor Outreach

Fundraising—including donor identification, donor outreach, and donor management—is crucial in modern politics. Campaigns and political groups that cannot reach their fundraising goals will fall behind. A political consulting firm can help with a wide range of fundraising and donor-related matters.

8.      FEC Compliance

There are strict Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules in place for campaigns, PACs, and other groups. There are also some state-based regulations in place. Political consulting firms can offer support with federal and state compliance issues.

9.      Crisis Management

No campaign or political organization wants to think about things going wrong. However, the reality is that not everything is always smooth in a contested political environment. Mistakes happen and unexpected situations arise. A political consulting firm can assist with crisis management, including preparations and rapid response. 

Effective Political Consulting Requires Personalized Attention

One of the core principles of effective political consulting is that it must be narrowly tailored to meet the unique needs and goals of each client. Indeed, the first job of a strategic political consultant is to understand the position and objectives of a PAC or advocacy group. Only with clear and comprehensive knowledge of the situation will a political consultant be able to provide effective guidance and support.

The political consultants at Aristotle put a strong emphasis on personalized advice. We put in the time, resources, and attention to the small details to ensure that we are in the best position to help political clients achieve big goals. For example, our strategic consultants help clients use our MatchIT Database to help them improve their targeting. We take your existing data and combine it with our data to produce an enhanced, actionable dataset that gets results.

Aristotle Is a Leader in Campaign Management and Political Consulting

At Aristotle, we provide reliable, solutions-driven campaign management for candidates, PACs, and political advocacy groups. Our team is proud to be leaders in strategic political consulting. If you have any specific questions or concerns about political consulting and the available services, we are here to help. Contact us today to find out more about how our campaign management team can help.

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