Soon-to-be Judge Lisa Rice and Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel.

Soon-to-be Judge Lisa Rice and Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel.

I’m not a professional football player – in fact I’m a PR pro who recently helped a client with her first-ever political campaign. However, I can tell you that “Monday morning quarterbacks” are alive and well!

After Lisa Rice won decisively in her Northeast Tennessee primary bid for Criminal Court Judge Part 1 May 6 I have been amazed at the number of people who flippantly say, “Oh, Lisa was a shoo-in.”  Really? Has anyone seen what happened in Virginia to that “shoo-in” former house majority leader Eric Cantor?

Let me share with you three things I learned along the campaign trail that can also be applied to business success. Use these and you too can be a “shoo-in.”

1. Work harder than you’ve ever worked in your whole life: Then work some more. Lisa was up at the crack of dawn every day, including weekends. She attended Saturday morning pancake breakfasts and Saturday evening spaghetti suppers. She walked neighborhoods and helped out at benefits. She met hundreds and hundreds of people. In addition she practiced law. To succeed in business or politics you have to want it and you have to work at it.

2. Never, never, ever underestimate your opponent:  One of our local races was decided by 12 votes. That is not a typo! 12 votes! Another race was decided by just 68 votes. Never look past or over the opponent you are facing. Take each race and each battle one at a time. If you’re in business always be aware of your competition.

3. Run like you’re 20 points behind: I was told that Tennessee Senator Bob Corker uses that as his campaign mantra. It works for U.S. Senators and it works for small businesses and giant corporations. Run like you’ve lost 20 stock points or that you’ve just dropped 20% market share. Run like someone is nipping at your heels. But RUN and don’t stop until after the polls close on election day.

Bonus: It pays to be nice

This bonus comes from my dear friend Nancy Williams who watched the campaign as an objective observer. As I shared my ideas for this blog post with her over lunch, Nancy commended Lisa on her “clean race.”

“No matter what if you go about it with integrity you will always be a winner in the long run,” Nancy said.

Good advice for both business and politics.



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Election night with Lori and Al Fatherree

MarketingMel on election night with Lori and Al Fatherree

I learned many things from Dan Eldridge as I watched the now Washington County-Mayor elect over the past nine months.  His first rule was, “always surround yourself with good people.” I held my breath each time he would say that knowing that I was part of the campaign team. Creating the PR,  social media, web site, and special event planning for the Eldridge campaign was perhaps the most arduous task I have undertaken in my career.   Every time our committee assembled , I would look around the table  and realize the strength of a good team. It took a hard-working group of people with strong roots in the county, the city, and a knowledge of East Tennessee politics to pull off the win. (When we started this campaign many naysayers told us they wouldn’t give us a snowball’s chance in a very hot place of winning!)

Nothing in life is really won alone. A huge thanks to the folks who were on my team from the start. Tim McLeod who designed the web site, Theresa Bellamy who created Dan’s logo, Beth Barrett who helped me with the administration of the campaign, and Kyle Long who helped with video shooting and editing.  Kudos to Tina Wilson for her fine photography of Dan and his family.

Dan first came to me last August because he “needed a press release.” In addition to letting him know he was going to need a lot more than just a press release (I shared with him the importance of Facebook, twitter and an online social media presence during our first meeting) I urged him to team with someone with political know-how.  That’s when Dan came back with news that my former co-anchor and one time business partner Tony Treadway would be just the right person for the job. Indeed he was. Just as we did years ago anchoring the WJHL-TV 6 and 11 pm news,  Tony and I once again collaborated and always had each others’ back. Clarence Mabe and Al and Lori Fatherree were instrumental in their knowledge as treasurers and Kelly Wolfe provided outstanding political insight.

So many people have told me I should write about the campaign that I plan to turn my experiences into a book. I am working on the outline now while it’s still fresh on my mind. Teamwork seems like a good place to start.

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