Live Telephone Calls vs. Robo Calls on a Political Campaign

Even in the age of the Internet, email, and Facebook, telephone calls remain a highly effective way to contact voters. In almost every campaign I run telephone calls are an essential part along with direct mail and precinct walking. But should your campaign be making live calls or blasting out robo calls?

I won’t lie.

I personally don’t like robo calls and most of the time rely on live telephone calls on a campaign. That said, you should not discount robo calls entirely. They can be an effective way to reach voters.

Here’s what you need to know about both live calls and robo calls when it comes to the phone game of your campaign.

Live Telephone Calls

The Positives

  • Live calls allow you to speak to the specific voter you are trying to reach. 

This allows you to talk to a voter you are targeting, not whoever answers the phone, who may not even be a registered voter.

  • Live calls allow you to engage with the voters.

You or your callers can tell the voters your winning story, find out what’s really important to them, learn why they might be hesitant to vote for you, and even ask supporters if they’d like one of your beautiful signs in their yard.

  • You can call mobile devices/cell phones with live calls. 

The FCC prohibits auto dialing mobile phones, but you can dial them and call with a live person.

With the proper script, you can find out how your targeted voters are leaning.  You can then decide to advocate for support, hang up, or press on for an endorsement.

  • Live calls can stand out when there are several election contests in an overlapping area and the other campaigns are only making robo calls.

The Negatives

  • Live calls are not cheap.

They may cost as much as a piece of mail. If you have a long script they may cost more.

  • It takes time to set up live calls.

If you’re doing them with volunteers, you need to find a place for them to make calls and schedule that time.

If you’re using a professional call center , (this is an affiliate link) you will need to provide a script and voters data. That will take a day or two for your calls to start being placed.

Robo Calls

The Positives

  • Robo Calls are inexpensive.

You can get robo calls sent out for mere pennies. Live calls will often cost ten times as much as robo calls.

The voter will then receive the call a prominent supporter with your campaign’s message.  This adds to your third party credibility as a candidate. With live calls, it’s either you, a volunteer, or a paid caller talking to the voters.

  • Robo calls allow you to rapidly respond to an attack or accusation.

If you’re attacked in the mail that day, you can get a call recorded and sent out to the voters to counter your opponent and blunt the claims being leveled against you.

  • Robo Calls stand out when there are not many other elections taking place.

In such circumstances like a Special Election or an Off-Year Election when not a lot of calls are being, robo calls can be an excellent way to introduce yourself or have prominent supporters introduce you to the voters.

The Negatives

  • You can’t call mobile devices/cell phones with robo calls.

As stated above, the FCC prohibits auto dialing cell phones. That means you’ll not be communicating with sometimes half of the voters you want to call because the voter data only contains a cell number, not their landline.

Don’t even think about skirting this rule or any other law or regulation that covers your campaign activities. The FCC is serious about enforcing this prohibition and the penalties are quite steep.

  • Robo calls can annoy people.

That’s the main reason I’m against them. I get annoyed by them – especially during a crowded election season.

If you’ve ever received 8 to 15 robo calls on a Saturday on your home phone you understand how I feel.

Candidate Take-Aways

Phone calls should be a part of your winning campaign strategy.

Whether you make live telephone calls, robo calls, or both is completely up to you.

You need to make sure that calls fit whatever your campaign budget may be.

And once you determine that, then you need to determine which type of calls will effectively help you tell your winning story to the voters and be victorious on Election Day.