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Contingency Planning for Campaign Season

By: Leah Soffer and Danielle Winterhalter

As the seasons change and the most consequential election of our lives is just 36 days away, the harsh reality of the ongoing global pandemic is hitting campaigns in new ways, every single day. 

Like many, we at SpeakEasy are driven by caffeine-fueled nights, with the camaraderie of our teammates working together to move us forward towards the  finish line.

It’s this team that powers our tech, supports our clients, and keeps the trains moving on time. And if anything were to happen to one of us, it’s our top priority that we are able to take care of ourselves or our loved ones without concern for professional consequences – whether it be our own jobs or one of our clients’ campaigns. 

That’s why we’ve developed a couple contingency plans: one for managing our business growth with little lead time and another for continuing to operate seamlessly, should someone need to take some time out of the office. 

With the ever-impending threat of COVID-19 all around us, we thought we might share some strategies we’ve used to help us maximize coverage while protecting our people. 

Contingency planning for coverage amidst election season
To get ahead of the stresses of campaign season, we at SpeakEasy built a plan to designate which roles we would hire mid-season, if we found ourselves needing more teammates on board. We built out this plan in early August, and have already used it to strategically expand our team to manage the exciting work ahead of us this cycle. Here’s how we thought about building out tasks for new teammates:

  • Segmented tasks that are critical but not part of a larger system. What are aspects of each team member’s job that are easily peeled away and learned by new team members? For example, training someone in drafting social media copy might be easier than training someone on the nuances of digital ad buys.
  • Areas of the business that will be busiest. Which verticals will be in most demand when business is pouring in? For example, who can fix the site if it is glitching? Who can support customer inquiries? Build out a plan for scaling each of these verticals separately. Work with teammates in those roles right now to see what their biggest needs are and how easy it would be to train a new team member.
  • Automate!! Are you sending weekly marketing emails? Are you hosting webinars to onboard campaigns onto your platform? Automate those communication systems so it is one less thing to worry about mid-week.

Contingency planning for COVID-19
Of course, we are doing everything we can to ensure that our team members stay safe throughout this pandemic. That being said, no one is immune and we felt it was irresponsible to not discuss what would happen if any one of us were to catch COVID-19. Ultimately, it is critical to us that should any member of our team get sick, they have the time and space to rest and recover. We don’t want anyone answering emails from a hospital bed. This virus is serious and health always comes first.

Here’s how we approached it:

1. Lay out your team. We quite literally created a spreadsheet with a column for each team member and answered the following questions:

  • What do they do?
  • What projects do they own?
  • What systems do they know?
  • What relationships do they have?

2. Lay out your systems. Again, we created a column for each system or process in our company and then listed all of the people who know how the system works. This view allowed us to see which systems have a lot of backups and which systems are siloed in the world of a single teammate.

3. Determine training and documentation opportunities. Do you have a critical system that is fully owned by one person? Train someone else! Is there a teammate who has a particular strength you lean heavily on? Take this as an opportunity for them to share their expertise through a lunch-and-learn. Is there a process that is easy to learn? Have the team member owning it document every step. That way, if they were to be out for a week, someone could step in and take it over immediately. 

4. Make a plan to get ahead. We mentioned this before but we’ll say it again because we feel it is critical this cycle. Any task that can be done now, should be done now. Maybe that’s drafting emails, maybe that’s automating manual processes. While they may not be mission critical tasks at the moment, you’ll be better off spending the extra hour doing them now than doing a lot of quick manual tasks mid-October.

As we’ve learned this year – more than ever – we’re all living in an ever changing world, and adaptability is critical. But so is taking care of one another – from clients, to teammates, to our families.

We hope these strategies can be helpful to the growth and success of our colleagues throughout the industry. 

36 days. Let’s go.