How To Win An HBCU Student Election: Analyzing The Jeydah Jenkins “The Voice Of The Students” Miss CAU Campaign

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Heading into the Spring 2021 Student Election Season, I had determined to myself that I did not want to do election consulting anymore. Sure, I’d had a lot of success in such a short time. At that time, I helped in leading 16 student leaders to building successful student election campaigns and becoming top SGA and Royal Court leaders at their institutions. We even were able to navigate through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that completely altered everything we knew about our lives. I wasn’t fulfilled though. I didn’t find joy in the process.

I’m big on building genuine relationships. I didn’t get into campaign consulting for the money or the clout of it all. I wanted to build a genuine bond with student leaders around the nation. I had goals of working with my clients, now in their SGA and Royal Court positions, on national projects and campaigns through our HBCU Pulse & A Queen’s Series brands. However, for a lot of my clients, that didn’t happen. I’ve not spoken to many of them since the win. I couldn’t tell you why but it wore on me. So, when I picked up my first post-grad job as an Account Executive at iHeartMedia in Macon, GA, I decided that it was time to move on and pursue my dream of one day being on the radio. 

However, one client was always there for me. Mya Schofield, who was my SGA President client and then came back to work with me on her successful Miss Benedict campaign, urged me to not retire from consulting. She let me know that she was running to be her campus queen and she wanted to replicate the success that she had in her SGA race. I agreed to come back to help her but vowed that she’d be the only person that I’d assist in the Spring. That is, until Jeydah Jenkins reached out to me. 

The email was unexpected. Here I was, playing NBA 2K11 (yes, NBA 2K11. IYKYK) getting ready to head to bed so I could be on time for work in the morning when I saw an email from Jeydah letting me know that she had read my article “Why Jakhia Gray’s “Golden Ticket” Campaign Is The Best In HBCU History (An Analysis)”. She wanted to see if we were still doing free election consultations to possibly pick up new clients. I looked at her social media and saw potential. She had the look of a campus queen as well as the passion for her HBCU and the love for service. So, we spoke that next day. After a great three-hour conversation where we exchanged ideas and I learned more about her, we decided to work together to pursue her goal of becoming Miss Clark Atlanta University. 

This article is a summation of our efforts. I found it fitting to speak about this since it’s been two years since I wrote the article about the success of Jakhia Gray’s “Golden Ticket” campaign. Jakhia inspired me to want to work in election consulting with student leaders to give them a quality campaign. I studied her campaign, and other standout HBCU campaign moments like the Miss FAMU campaigns and Darby Smith’s Rickey Smiley Morning Show shoutout moment, and strived to create that for a new generation of student leaders. What I learned from previous viral election success is that it’s always a formula to greatness. In my article about Jakhia’s “Golden Ticket” campaign, I spotlighted these keys to how she achieved her success. 

  • She Had Social Media Popping Popping
  • She Campaigned Fiercely
  • Every Event Mattered

We’re going to go a bit deeper in the hopes of giving leaders planning their campaigns or are thinking about running a campaign a starting point to their success. If you want to dive deeper, or just don’t want to read the article, here is my interview with Jeydah Jenkins on YouTube and via iHeartRadio as well as my Randall’s Thoughts commentary about how to win a successful election campaign. Don’t forget to subscribe to Pulse Radio on Apple Podcast, Spotify, YouTube, iHeartRadio & Google Play!

Effectively Tell The Story

What I see a lot from the HBCU community is that we want to put on a show when we do our election campaigns. I get it. You want everyone to drop heart eyes on your pictures and have people say “if he/she don’t win ‘imma be mad!” That’s great. But, this isn’t Halloween. I’ve seen countless student leaders with great campaign concepts and a gang of endorsements (more on that later) that didn’t get the win at the end of the election period. I think that it’s because people are trying to put on a show and not tell the story of why they’re a good leader for their campus.

Ask yourself this as you go into your campaign: what story are you trying to tell? What’s your reasoning for running for this position? What change do you want to make on your campus? How will you make your impact. From there, you build out a platform that supports that story and a theme that makes your peers stop and look at what you’re talking about. This is where many student leaders fail. If you have no motive for why you want to run or no plans for what you’ll do if you win you don’t need to run. 

When Jeydah started working with me she had a huge passion for service and using the Miss Clark Atlanta University position to advocate for students and be a bridge between the administration, alumni and students. She came up with her platform title “I Got You: A Promise That Won’t Be Broken”. That gave me a lot to work with. I then started working on platform points based on issues that she saw in the school and what she could to make change through the platform of the campus queen position. This is what I came up with. 

Showcasing Leadership

Encouraging School Pride

Helping Students In Need

Bringing Life Back To The Yard Post COVID-19

Once I figured out what we wanted to achieve via the platform points I came up with the campaign them “The Voice Of The Students”. Now, here’s where you have to be at the right place at the right time. We had “The Voice Of The Students” for months but when Victor Solomon popped out on NBC’s “The Voice” in March, I had conversations with my designers on if it was possible to make the logo similar to the NBC “The Voice” logo.

 

They were able to make it work perfectly and gave Jeydah a campaign that was fit for a new talk show rollout. This campaign theme helped in setting the tone for everything that we did. We were able to structure her preliminary pageant performance, events and even social media captions around this theme. And it’s all because we looked to tell the story. 

Plan All The Way To The End

This isn’t really an original rule. I’m borrowing this from Robert Greene’s classic book 48 Laws Of Power. Law 29 of 48 Laws Of Power reads as follows: 

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“The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others. By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead.”

The only thing many student leaders think about is the popular vote race and going viral for their idea. But, are you so caught in what things could be that you’re not planning out your whole race? Who are your competitors? What organizations are they apart of? What do they bring to the table? Will you have a preliminary pageant or SGA runoff? What are some issues that we could run into that could deter us from this goal? You have to ask yourself these questions and analyze the landscape. 

Jeydah and I planned literally to the very end. We started working together mid December 2020. I was done with her platform, campaign theme and proposed events by the end of our first week working together. We were able to enjoy our Christmas break with our families and bond in general after that. The heavy work was already done. The next step was getting graphic designers to create the campaign deliverables and prepare her for the preliminary pageant that we knew was coming. 

That level of planning determines everything that you do with a potential election campaign. Don’t think because you’re Greek, been in leadership positions before or everyone comes up to hug you (pre-COVID) that you have this in the bag. If you think that and go in like you’re the front-runner, you leave yourself open to a pop-off-the-page, viral campaign like Jakhia’s “Golden Ticket” campaign or a strategic campaign that has planned to the end. 

It gets this serious. Don’t get beat by this generation’s Kamala Harris. You’re thinking about the next year, he or she is thinking about their future political career. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

Campaigning Starts The Moment You Step Foot On Campus

I’m not gonna spend a lot of time here because this is common sense. However, people have the game messed up. Don’t think you’re gonna treat people wrong and walk around like you’re better than everyone then think you’re gonna be their campus queen or SGA Presidents. Fellas, just because you’re Greek doesn’t mean you’re going to stroll into an easy win. It doesn’t work like that. Those last two statements are vice versa by the way. We allow for positions and titles to define us. Who are you as a person? How can we display how great of a person you are to your student body? Often, people don’t vote for the campaign or even for the ideas. They vote for who that person is, how they carry themselves and what they’ve known of them since they step foot on campus.

Jeydah is an amazing person that carries herself well as is well regarded on CAU’s campus. But, I’m not even gonna go for her as an example for this point. Let’s look at real life. Donald Trump was our president for four years. Why? Hillary Clinton wasn’t likeable to a large sector of American voters. Many voters sat out because they weren’t enthusiastic for the 2016 election and her and fmr. President Bill Clinton’s actions left them open to disinformation and fake news that further hurt their chances. 

 Why is Joe Biden our president? He’s likeable! Sure, it was hard for him to navigate around his endorsement of the 1994 Crime Bill and the viral “You Ain’t Black” interview with Charlamagne Tha God but, at the end of the day, he’s likeable. We would’ve voted for anyone to get Trump out of there but it helped that Joe Biden seems to be a good person that could lead us these next few years. I’m going to let that sit with you and move on to the next point. 

Endorsements Are Cute, But They Don’t Work

This might be the point of the article that people don’t like but I’m here to tell you the truth. Endorsement videos DON’T WORK! It’s nice to have other student leaders that say how great you are or even a celebrity that you can add for pop out effect. However, people stake their WHOLE ENTIRE ELECTIONS on endorsement videos. It’s so infuriating when I see this. How can Drake or your favorite celebrity vouch for if you’re gonna be a good SGA President or King & Queen? Are you bringing them to campus for the homecoming concert? They might’ve did that endorsement off love but booking a celebrity in rotation on the radio costs a couple hundred thousand. 

And this part of the article is specifically for the student leadership community as NASAP comes up and we’re getting back to the regular HBCU football season in the Fall. It’s amazing to have friends at other schools but I promise you that getting an endorsement from an SGA or Royal Court member from another school holds no weight on the yard of your school. I’m not saying don’t get endorsements but it’s literally not needed. It’s Ketchup on Checkers Fries (or Zaxby’s on a good day, best fries in the world). 

Let me give you this perspective as well. Jakhia’s “Golden Ticket” campaign still inspires many student leaders around the nation two years later. But, do you realize that Jakhia had no endorsements? She campaigned off of creativity and how she could tell her story. Jeydah’s Miss CAU campaign had no endorsements. We built a campaign based around the students. We gotta turn around the culture of where things are going. Build your campaign around who you are and what you want to do on your campus and not who you can get to cosign you. Campaigns based around an endorsement strategy will always lose. Please plan accordingly. 

A Platform Isn’t Just For Show, It’s A Plan Of Action For Your Reign Or Tenure

This last point has to be drilled home and it’s related to the first point that we brought up. A lot of student leaders like to play dress-up like it’s Halloween during campaign season. But, when they win, they do absolutely nothing within their positions. Why is this? It’s a lot of reasons honestly. But, it’s largely because they didn’t create a plan of action with their platform. As we move into the rest of this new decade we have to have plans and goals for what we want to achieve when we get these positions. We have to take these positions seriously. This isn’t prom king or queen at your high school. Everything you say and do has meaning. You’re the representation of the students on your campus. We have to stop mailing it in when it comes to planning.

A queen or king with a plan is powerful. An SGA President with a plan can uplift the community that an HBCU resides in. Do this work early in your campaign planning. I pointed out the platform points that I presented to Jeydah in the first point above. But, I want to spotlight a specific point that I created that I emphasized to Jeydah would be huge as we moved closer to the Spring.

Bringing Life Back To The Yard Post COVID-19

COVID-19 took away more than a year from our full college experience. Post-COVID, we must bring back what made our CAU experience special. As Miss Clark Atlanta University, I promise that I will work with our newly elected SGA leadership and administration to ensure the 2021-2022 school year is the best in CAU History.

I presented Jeydah that platform point for her campaign in December. Looking at the state of the country and the platform that Joe Biden campaigned on about COVID relief and vaccinations, I knew we’d turn the corner by April 2021. I was right. Jeydah informed me that Clark Atlanta announced that students would be able to return to campus in the Fall. So, I emplored Jeydah that we needed to go deeper on our COVID Plan. That’s when I created the “We Outside” plan to further speak about what Jeydah would bring as Miss Clark Atlanta University post-COVID.

When you stay ready you don’t have to get ready. Jeydah has a course of action for how she’s going to handle the school year and now start dialogue with her advisors and the administration on how they can work together to achieve these goals. The platform points are the most important part of the campaign. Without them, you’re not truly operating as a leader

I hope this article helps people and gives them a template to create winning campaigns. It was a blessing working with Jeydah for her Miss CAU campaign and I appreciate her for hearing me out on these strategies, even when it was hard. Although I am retired from running elections, we will be offering elections services via our A Queen’s Series brand moving forward. Follow @aqueensseries on Instagram and email [email protected] for any inquiries.

 

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