Any winning robo call recording should be made with the same care and consideration taken with any mail piece, yard sign, television ad or radio spot made for your campaign.
A robo call is simply another tool to get your winning message, your one sentence, to the voters.
Campaigns Often Don’t Put Real Effort into Robo Calls
Over the years I have had the opportunity to listen to some really bad robo calls.
Calls made on cell phones where the quality is very bad.
Unedited calls that included long pauses, verbal stumbles and disruptions in the recording that had not been removed.
Very very long, over a minute, recordings, that droned on and on that no one likely listened to.
I even had someone that wanted me to send out a call what was over 3 in-a-half minutes long!
I have listened to calls where people try to jam in multiple messages, sometimes 5 or 6 in one recording!
Some campaigns are so proud of their endorsements and think everyone else is too, so they want to read them all, every one of them, to every voter, in one very long robo call.
Then there are these 1970’s sales guys. These are the guys that try to say everything really, really, fast.
I don’t know why they do this but they do and no one can understand what they are saying. Remember the Fed Ex fast talking guy?
In my carer, I have been given some recordings that were so bad they were embarrassing to listen to.
I would love to share them with the reader but I just can’t do that to the people that made them.
Many of these, the really bad ones, were so bad, I refused to use them.
For some reason campaigns tend to not put much effort into this form of communication.
It is amazing that someone who is trying to make a good impression to the votes would do this but I hear it all the time.
But guess what? From my experience, about 18 to 25 percent of voters targeted with robo call actually listen to part or all of the call.
An Effective Robo Call is Short and on Message
Even with robo calls you must always stay on message. Not sure of your message? Then be sure to read Brian Floyd’s article Why Winning Candidates Always Stay on Message.
And you better have that message up front, right after the name of the candidate:
Hello, this is name of candidate I am calling to tell you that I will be tough on crime and that is why I am the only candidate endorsed by the Dodge City Sheriff.
If you are using a message carrier (one of your endorsers) do something like this:
Hello, this is Agent Elliott Ness call to ask you to vote for name of candidate for Chicago mayor. Name of Candidate is the only candidate who we can trust to be tough on crime…..
Like anything your campaign does, your robo call must be short and to the point.
You must stick to that one winning message.
The best robo calls are 30 seconds or less.
A winning robo call will consist of an effective or relevant message carrier and reinforce your campaign message to a targeted audience.
Good Message Carriers Make for a Great Robo Call
Using a well known person to deliver the message is always an effective pitch.
One time we had the son and daughter of a Los Angeles Mayor, and nephew and niece of a local congresswoman, and the grandchildren of a famous political supervisor record a robo call endorsing our candidate.
The former Mayor and Congresswoman would not lend their endorsements, but the kids did and were willing to record a robo call message. Everybody knew who they were so the call had a strong effect.
A president of your local police or fire fighters association is always golden.
Teachers are great. The president of your local chamber of commerce works too.
A well known and well liked celebrity in your area can also be a great messenger.
This recording was made by basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, for a Los Angeles City Attorney’s race. It is a good example of effectively using a known person for a robo call.
Being Creative Can Make Robo Calls Great Too
Think of the robo call like a radio spot.
You can add music to the background. Don’t do something too crazy but think of a tune that will enhance your audio.
If the call is regarding public safety you could add sirens in the background or as an intro in the beginning.
We certainly could have done more with the Shaquille O’Neal recording.
Adding some background music or something would have made Shaq’s call even better.
But hey, it is Shaq. Hoops are big in Los Angeles and so is Shaq, I mean it is not like we have a football team – Yet.
Check this call out. A buddy of mine did this for a slate of candidates we were running for office in El Monte California last year. It is a good example of a great use of sound effects.
If you or someone you know has some talent in this area and is interested in helping your campaign, put them to work.
Background music and sound effects can be done on most any laptop or home computer.
You don’t need a recording studio. If you don’t have the time or knowledge, I am sure someone you know does.
There is a lot of software on the internet and plenty of music and sound that you can download at minimal cost and possibly even for free.
It is a great job to assign to an eager volunteer. Just don’t do anything too crazy and make sure anything you do complies with all relevant laws.
You also need to make sure YOU approve of the recording before it is sent out to voters in a robo call.
The Attack Robo Call
I would recommend against making negative or attack robo calls. And frankly, I won’t do them.
Calling someone on the phone is a little invasive in the first place. So if you are already being a little invasive, why be a lot invasive by being totally negative? Save that for mail and press.
Some campaigns do negative robo calls and try to hide who is doing it.
This is likely illegal in any jurisdiction in the nation and can probably be traced back to whoever did it.
And my guess is that the voters don’t buy this sort of nonsense anyway.
Stay away from attack robo calls, push polls, and any effort to bend the rules with making a robo call.
A robo call should be a positive thing, just like your campaign, informing the voter of some useful information that will help them make an intelligent decision on election day.
Important Things to Remember When Making Robo Call
- Make sure you know what your disclaimer requirements are – Please seek legal advise on this.
- When considering the length of the call don’t forget that you will need to include some sort of disclaimer.
- Don’t be too long. Anything over 50 seconds is probably too long. Anything over one minute is definitely too long.
- Don’t harass the voters. Don’t send the call out too early or too late – Please seek legal advise on this.
- Don’t call during unofficial holidays
- Don’t make too many calls. Use you own judgement on this, but I would certainly not send more than one in a day to the same voter and probably not one every day for more than a few days.
- Make sure the robo call fits into the overall strategy of your campaign.
- Target your voters with a robo call using a relevant message like you would with a direct mail piece.
Remember, the robo call is just another tool that campaigners and candidates can use to get the right message to the right voter.
If you are going to make robo calls, take it seriously and approach it with the same professionalism that you would any other method of voter contact.
And remember this. Ultimately, whatever you send out to voters is a reflection of you and your campaign.
If you’re interested in robo calls for your campaign, you can contact Paul’s company, Margin of Victory for a quote.