How to win with Robo calls is a hotly debated topic that has been going on for decades now.
Though many people beleive they are a complete waste of time, my experience is that robo calls can help you win if used effectively.
All things being equal, you are probably not going to win your campaign on robo calls alone, but the right use of robo calls can move a targeted universe a few points in your favor.
According to a presentation by Matt lackey of the AFL-CIO for the Analyst Institute, one study showed persuasive robo calls to move voters up to five percent in a positive direction.
Five percent may not sound like a lot but 5 percent of 8,000 votes cast come out to 400 votes. Many elections has been won or lost by less than a few hundred votes. Think Al Gore and George W. Bush.
Not to be a downer but before you get started doing robo calls make sure you are in compliance with all Federal, State, and Local laws and regulations.
Make certain you are clear on what disclaimers (for example: “this call is paid for by“) are required and remember DO NOT CALL CELL PHONES.
Federal law prohibits this and you don’t want to get in trouble with the FCC.
In all my years of doing campaigns I am constantly amazed at how ineffectively robo calls are used. What I hear often are recordings thrown together at the last minute, used the final weekend of the campaign, or on Election Day almost as an afterthought.
The recording are low quality, the messages are way too long, and way too boring.
I have heard recordings for robo calls that were done on cell phones and loaded with static. I have heard recordings that were obviously not thought out and the person speaking obviously did not rehearse before making the recording.
Politicians do them because they can. Often there seems to be a mindset that because the calls are so cheap that it makes sense to just call everyone. No effort, or very little effort, is made to target the message.
Here are a few ideas that can help you win more votes with your robo call efforts
TARGETING AND USING THE RIGHT MESSAGE CARRIERS AND THE OVERALL CAMPAIGN STRATEGY
A robo call is simply another means of communicating your established message to the voter. And it is golden if you have a known community leader, spokes person, what we call a “message carrier’, that can deliver that message on your behalf to the voters.
If you are a business owner and running on a pro business platform maybe use the president of the chamber to speak on your behalf.
If you are a public safety candidate have a credible member of law enforcement or the fire services to deliver the message.
If you are running on education – A PTA president/teacher, etc.
Environment – the president of the local Sierra Club chapter.
Think of the talking head mailer where you have testimonies from various endorsements. This is the same thing but they are actually talking.
YOU WANT TO USE ROBO CALLS TO EDUCATE VOTERS
This is where robo calls can be most effective: As your councilman she/he voted for (this piece of legislation) that saved tax payer $$$. And …as your councilman….put a stop sign at…intersection.
Or: School teachers support …she is the best choice for our children, etc..-
Robo calls are a quick and cost effective way to get your message out and information about your endorsements and your platform.
ROBO CALLS SHOULD ALWAYS BE TARGETED
Just like you would target a mail piece you can target robo calls.
Actually, with robo calls, if you have a vendor that is willing to work with you, you can target robo calls even more effectively.
Know your voters – who wants to hear about saving tax dollars?
Who wants to hear about public safety?
And who cares that you voted or will vote to support more programs for kids, the elderly or working mothers?
If you have an environmental message think about who cares most about the environment.
ROBO CALLS SHOULD BE INTEGRATED WITH OTHER CAMPAIGN ACTIVITY
Time your robo calls and dove tail them into other voter contact activities.
Use your calls complement a mail piece – maybe use them to further emphasize your position on a given issues.
The person quoted on your mail piece could also be doing a robo call.
Perhaps you and your team will be walking a precinct that weekend. You may want to announce to that precinct that you will be in the neighborhood.
Share your position on a key issue and let voters know that you will be going door to door and will be available to answer questions. This can be a great ice breaker.
If Vote by Mail ballots will be arriving soon, do a robo call reminding absentee voters to look out for their ballot, and emphasize your campaign message.
If you plan out and coordinate your robo calls they can be much more effective. Any small thing you do to move voters is a big win on Election Day.
And please do not call the same voters with multiple robo calls in the same day. Voters hate that.
ROBO CALLS SHOULD NOT BE TOO LONG
Many robo call vendors will base their price on 30 or 60 second increments. If you go into the next 30 or 60 second increment your cost essentially doubles.
And remember, the disclaimer is included in the length of the call, so when you have a recording made keep in mind the length of the call and how it affects your budget.
Really long recordings, over a minute, are just going to bore people. The reality is that voters are not going to listen to it.
You really want to make the message short and to the point. Don’t ramble on about a bunch of different issues. Just get the point.
ROBO CALLS SHOULD BE INTERESTING AND WELL DONE
Robo call should catch people’s attention so make your calls interesting. Think radio ads and how they attempt to grasp a few moments of your focus.
Where appropriate, simple sound effects can be effective, enhance your message, and be easily added.
For example, if you are doing a call about law and order you might consider having sirens in the background. Animal rights, a dog barking could emphasize this concept.
There are a lot of ways to make robo calls interesting. Use your imagination.
Just make sure you are respectful to people, follow the law, and make sure what your doing makes sense, enhances your message and isn’t just offensive or weird.
You also want to ensure your recording is well edited.
When most people make a recording there are pauses or places where they took a deep breath and there is often static on the line.
Many of these issues can be easily edited by your vendor or by using software that can be purchased online.
It really should not be too much effort to make a quality robo call message.
There are also recording studios that can do the work for you. But these are probably going to be expenseive so check first with your vendor and see if they are willing to do the work. Some vendors will charge extra, but some will not.
Always remember to target your calls, just like you do with other messaging — mail, live phone calls, and precinct walking.
Again, don’t over do it.
Do not call the same voters with multiple robo calls in the same day. People do get annoyed.
Make sure you don’t call too late or too early in the day. There are very specific laws about when you can and can not make robo calls and you should be familiar with all robo call laws and requirements before you start making your robo calls.
And always make sure you are in compliance with Federal, State, and Local laws.
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