Last week, we had the chance to speak with Ross Berry and BJ Perry, founders of The Operative, a political and educational podcast where they discuss ideas, tools, and strategies for political operatives and candidates.
Both Ross and BJ come from political backgrounds, working on campaigns or as vendors for campaigns. This has given them significant experience to draw from.
Ross says he comes from the party-side of politics. But instead of knocking on doors, Ross was crunching numbers. As he calls, “the data path” in politics. As Regional Data Director, he was helping campaigns and candidates with digital politics such as list building, targeting, reporting and analysis, as well as finding new methods getting in touch with voters. Nowadays, he’s more focused on the telecommunications side of campaigning, like surveys, texting, and mobile outreach.
BJ tells us he comes from the vendor side of politics, working for organizations like iHeartMedia, leveraging direct mail, and telecoms, and worked for US Senator Judd Gregg, John Sununu, and current NH Governor, Chris Sununu.
After listening to the series, it’s clear that this rich history, combined with their honest and cutting banter, The Operative is an informative and entertaining political segment. Each episode is about 30 minutes in length, and is a dense and articulate discussion focused on a specific political operative topic.
In the first episode of The Operative, BJ and Ross talk about the value that they hope to bring to political operatives and candidates.
For example, there are many tools available to candidates. Some of these include, Anecdote, AirTable, Canva, and more. A campaign that knows about these, and how to use them, may have a leg up on the opposition.
In another episode, “What’s The Point,” with Ethan Zorfas from Axiom Strategies, the group discusses advertising on television, and various methods and strategies to optimize the outreach. Ethan gives some great examples of cases where television ad buys made significant influence on the outcomes of an election. He also talks about station and placement selection, and ways to make the most out of an ad purchase.
Now, they are on their 8th episode. Since starting just over a month ago, The Operative has covered scores of crucial campaign topics such as Creating a Campaign Plan, Scouting Talent, Party Building, Fundraising, Branding & Signage, and much more.
BJ says, “The Operative is all about education. We want to help create smarter, better political operatives.”
Ross and BJ also tell us that they want to offer something a little different.
“We are not afraid to speak from experience, and we are not here to compete with Rush Limbaugh. We want to talk about stuff we know, our perspective is from an operational lens, instead of political lens.”
This is a most welcome change of pace. By focusing on strategy and utility, versus what is often covered by the daily mass media outlets, The Operative offers a refreshing palate of content. And, it can help non-political insiders understand why some political circumstances arise.
Ross says, “A [political] campaign is an organization created out of thin air that is going to die in 9 months, whereas and a business venture isn’t off the ground in 2 years.“
Taking this into consideration, it becomes clear how much hard work and energy goes into a political campaign. Whether that’s local or national, political operatives have a short window to make a big impact.
And so far, The Operative has been a real hit. Quickly gaining traction on Facebook and Anchor FM, The Operative has received great public feedback, and many interview requests from candidates and vendors, asking to be featured on future episodes.
And after listening, we can see why. The Operative is chock-full of powerful strategies, tools, and methods of running a better and smarter political campaign and career. One area that really stood out, was list building. Ross says, “The right finance list is worth its weight in gold.”
In their 8th episode, “The List,” Ross and BJ discuss ways a campaign can build, acquire, and manage a list, but possibly even more importantly, is why a campaign would do this.
The two go on to discuss some of the strategies used when reaching out for campaign funding, ways to share and monetize the list, managing it, and even securing and protecting it. They also discuss some of the legal repercussions of using the wrong list. And, some very technical but effective ways to get started on a personal list even as a newcomer to a political campaign.
When we asked how they are dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak, Ross and BJ tell us that this was one of the contributing factors to starting the podcast. The Operative allows them to work and collaborate remotely, while creating content that is beneficial for candidates, campaigns, and other operatives. This also gives vendors and operatives that join as a guest on The Operative to showcase their products and services.
We thoroughly enjoyed talking with Ross and BJ about The Operative. And found many great ideas and tips for political, but also business use in their podcast. If you are running for office, working on a campaign, or just curious about what working in politics is like, we definitely recommend you give The Operative a listen.