Political Calling: Get-Out-the-Vote Best Practices for Robocalls Detailed by Monarch

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Automated political calling, also known as robocalls, can be an effective way to broadcast messages to voters, but it is a two edged sword and candidates need to be very careful in utilizing this powerful technology to their advantage, rather than detriment.

Political calling can deliver messages to voters quickly and inexpensively.

Political calling can be very effective, however, if not used properly, it can be an intrusive technology that can cost you votes. That's why you need to follow some simple best practices to help you win.

Using the best known practices for political calls, or automated robocalls, should be on the top of every campaign’s agenda, says the Laurie Patterson, director of phone broadcasting for Monarch Broadcast Messaging, one of the nation's leading political robocall providers.

"If misused, political robocalls can cost a candidate votes. A candidate and his or her campaign needs to understand that these calls are a two-edged sword but, if designed properly, a robocall campaign can be effective, rather than intrusive -- inspiring rather than upsetting," said Patterson. “The issue isn’t necessarily about one candidate using robocalls as part of a campaign. The problem is when many candidates bombard the voters repeatedly with their messages at the same time. After the second or third call, the voters simply turn-off and aren’t listening anymore. That’s why it’s critical to make sure your timing is focused and deliberate.”

For the upcoming season’s campaigns, the following are Monarch’s current “best practices” for using robocall technology:

1) The best time to send your robocall message is well in advance of the election, rather than the day before. At least, that’s when it will have the greatest impact. Having your message bunched up with 2 or 3, or even more, messages from other candidates during the last day of the campaign is counter-productive and ineffective. With rare exceptions, the only time a last minute robocall is advised is when you are responding to direct attacks that need to be addressed immediately.

2) Send your messages during the day because you want to leave as many messages on voicemail or answering machines as possible. Approximately 70% of the American population is not at home during the day and that is the ideal time to have your complete message delivered. Voters can listen to your message at their convenience and you will not be interrupting household routines. And yes, robocall technology can differentiate between a live person and an answering machine. If it detects an answering machine, it will simply wait for the beep to begin delivering your message.

3) Try to keep messages between 30 and 45 seconds. The briefer the better. Be upbeat, positive and don’t forget to thank the voters for their support.

4) Use a real Caller ID number associated with your campaign. Caller ID numbers that look shady or fake won’t be taken seriously. Some candidates use 000-000-0000 or even block their ID, which won’t get you any votes. Be prepared to get a lot of calls from curious voters who have missed the call, or those who simply want to be taken off your phone list. It’s best to direct your incoming calls to voicemail and sort them out later.

5) Plan early! The vast majority of the campaigns mistakenly put off discussing, planning and executing their robo calls until the last minute. Scripts and phone lists are thrown together with little thought or strategy. “You’ll see in the final rush that campaigns sometimes approach robocalls as a ‘what else can we throw at this thing - maybe something will stick’ approach,” says Patterson. “That’s the last thing you want to do with such a target-able technology. You should be identifying who you want to target and what specific message you want to deliver. And then, get your best tech savvy person to begin organizing your phone lists in the proper spreadsheet format.” Patterson advises that an ideal robo call planning cycle is about 7 to 10 days, so that your message is well thought out.

Once everything is in place, automated dialers can deliver thousands of robo calls in minutes. However, most dialers need to be throttled back because the surge of incoming calls can overwhelm the local phone circuits, which can actually stop calls from getting through. “That’s why we strongly recommend a ‘call pace’ that is steady, predictable and compliant with local capacity,” Patterson says.

In some states, such as California, direct robocalls are illegal. However, it is legal to have a live agent call a household and ask permission to play a recorded message. Monarch also provides a service that enables campaigns to adopt that approach without the need to purchase expensive equipment or software.

With campaign season approaching, candidates and their staffs are advised to plan ahead and utilize the latest best practices to maximize the effectiveness of political calling. Monarch Broadcasting Messaging has the professional experience to offer clients advice in strategy and tactics that will help win elections.


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Laurie Patterson
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