Parks Bennett is a Co-founder and CEO of Campaign Inbox, an email marketing and technology company helping political campaigns, non-profit organizations, and issue advocacy groups deliver their movement. Campaign Inbox clients win the fight for the inbox by ensuring they are actually reaching their subscriber’s inboxes and building a stronger, one-to-one relationship with their donors and activists. Prior to starting Campaign Inbox Parks served as the Director of Digital Fundraising for the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. Before joining the RNC Parks ran all email, direct mail, and telemarketing fundraising for the Scott Walker for President campaign. Before jumping into presidential politics Parks ran the NRCC’s direct mail and telemarketing fundraising operations for two cycles.
Parks is also an adjunct lecturer at the University of Flordia currently teaching a course titled The Fundamentals of Political Engagement.
AAPC: What does being a 2019 AAPC 40 Under 40 Award winner mean to you?
Parks: Being recognized by my peers for exceptional work in the grassroots fundraising space is an honor. As a grassroots fundraiser, our job is to work behind the scenes to amplify candidates messaging and supply much-needed resources to the campaign managers and political strategists who win races. We don’t expect praise but it’s rewarding to know our work is getting noticed.
AAPC: What’s next for you this year?
Parks: 2018 was Campaign Inbox’s inaugural cycle and my plan for 2019 is to continue building on the successes we saw last year. We saw success not only with help our great candidates raise more money and win their races but also hiring digital professionals. The leadership team at Campaign Inbox strives to create an environment where our employees learn from experts in not only fundraising but email technology, data targeting and analytics, and email deliverability. I will also continue teaching at the University of Flordia to train a new crop of political operatives.
AAPC: Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
Parks: An Account Manager for my account when I was just getting started in direct response, Seth Colton. We have worked together on various projects for nearly 10 years now and his opinions, guidance, and support have helped me shape successful programs for many campaigns. Now we don’t work together but still communicate on how to make direct mail and email fundraising a large part of campaigns.
AAPC: Tell us about something you’re most proud of accomplishing in your professional career.
Parks: I have two accomplishments which I’m equally proud of in my professional career. The first is co-founding Campaign Inbox, an email technology and marketing agency. We started with a dream of developing a product to help Republicans deliver their message to their supporters and it’s blossomed into a company of 10 employees and growing. The second is being asked to be an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Florida. I was more nervous about accepting this position than I was to go out and start a company from scratch. Developing a syllabus, writing lesson plans, lecturing, and teaching students are all things I had never done before. Having just completed my first semester I was thrilled by the reviews from the students who all noticed the time, effort and resources I put into developing a curriculum which will give them a leg up as they enter this very competitive field.
AAPC: To what do you credit your success at such a young age?
Parks: I attribute my success to having a great mentor and working with top-notch professionals at great agencies while I was on the client side. I have been fortunate to work for large national committees and national races and have to learn while drinking from a firehose. Without a support system along the way I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I am today.
AAPC: What advice would you give to a young professional who has their eye on being a future 40 Under 40 Award winner?
Parks: You can’t do it alone. Soak up as much knowledge and information, from as many people as you’re able as you grow in the space. Some of the best ideas have come out of conversations with folks who don’t work direct response.