Due to the potentially volatile nature of elections, campaign organizers pull out all the stops to ensure victory for their candidate. In addition to tireless grassroots initiatives, political phone banking and robocalls are commonly used as a method to connect with voters and spread awareness.
Does Political Phone Banking Work? Are Political Robocalls Effective?
Political phone banking and robocalls have been used with great success by many campaigns for decades. The most effective political robocalls are candidate messages addressed directly to voters, recorded in the candidate’s own voice. Other effective political robocall tactics include get-out-the-vote reminders, a major endorsement, and polling.
Over the past decade, the public’s perception of robocalls has changed: what once was thought of as an effective means of garnering votes has morphed into a mixed bag of half-truths, scare tactics, and, honestly, genuine campaign efforts. Today, despite the love-hate relationship that many voters have with them, robocalls continue to be a reliable resource throughout many campaigns. Generally speaking, the answer is yes, political phone banking does work when used properly. By bombarding voters with too many calls, however, the tactic can backfire and ultimately turn away votes instead of gain them.
Political Phone Bank Volunteers: How to Recruit
As wonderful as it would be to have volunteers line up to help with phone bank calls, gathering volunteers is one of the biggest challenges of running a campaign. Fortunately, these tips can help you recruit a team of volunteers who are ready and willing to put in the work your candidate needs to earn votes:
- Reconnect with people who have been known to volunteer in the past. Chances are high that these individuals will be willing to contribute again and will likely have connections to others who will do the same.
- Get creative when drawing out supporters for volunteer efforts. From asking super-voters from the last primary election to pitch in to having your volunteers slip in the question “would you like to volunteer?” there are virtually no bad ideas when it comes to recruiting support.
- Scheduling, encouragement, and appreciation are all key when it comes to working with your current volunteer base. Never let a volunteer leave before scheduling another phone bank shift and highly encourage them (or even offer incentives like free coffee from the local coffee shop) to bring a friend or family member. And ALWAYS remember to show your gratitude and appreciation for the time and effort they put forth. Everyone likes to feel valued, especially if it’s for a cause they believe in.
Volunteers can make or break your political phone bank. While computer-generated robocalls act as a viable alternative, there’s nothing as effective as speaking with a real person on the phone who can answer questions, engage in conversation, and excitedly encourage participation.
The Best Tools and Resources to Use for Political Phone Banking
In addition to the help and support from volunteers, there are several high-tech tools and resources you can use to boost your political phone banking efforts. Voicent, for example, is predictive-dialer software with productivity-boosting features like automated dialing, skipping busy, no-answer, and disconnected lines, and optionally leaving an encouraging voice message on answering machines. With advanced auto-dialer features, you can send a single pre-recorded message to thousands of phone numbers at once. Multi-level phone surveys make it easy for voters to participate in your survey, and easy for you to analyze results. Finally, 2-way text messaging and text broadcasting allows you to interact with people in a way that many younger voters will appreciate.
More importantly, resources like Voicent help capitalize the time and effort of volunteers by never involving their participation until a live person answers the phone. With Voicent, your volunteers can even work from home. All they need is an internet connection and a computer. And volunteer managers can take advantage of tools to monitor calls, provide whisper coaching, and specify call scripts. With tools like this, not only can you effectively reach and expand your target audience, but you can ensure that all of your volunteers’ time is being used as efficiently and effectively as possible.
How to Train Phone Bank Volunteers
Politics can be brutal and unforgiving. However, if you properly train your volunteers and provide them with the information and resources needed to be successful, being involved in politics can also be rewarding and gratifying. There are several things to consider when training your volunteers for working the phone bank, including:
By maintaining a professional environment, you can empower and encourage your volunteers to approach each call with respect, consideration, and professionalism.
Work with each volunteer to set goals that fit the individual and how much time/effort they are able to put forth. With reachable, realistic goals, volunteers are more apt to put forth their best effort.
Implement rewards for volunteers who meet or exceed their goals.
Always offer free food and beverages to your volunteers. Whether they are still in training or already making calls, a full and happy volunteer is a hard-working, successful volunteer. It also shows that you care about them and the effort they’re dedicating to the campaign.
Provide each volunteer with a clear, concise, and well-thought-out script that includes a call to action such as “can we count on your vote?” “will you visit our website?” or “would you be willing to donate?”
While technology like Voicent helps to prevent unanswered calls and voicemail pick-ups, there are times when your volunteers will be faced with the task of leaving a voicemail. Ensure they have a specifically scripted response for these scenarios.
Train volunteers to kindly handle and respond to any and all situations, especially those with potentially abrasive voters.
Remind volunteers to always clearly mark the voters who request to be removed from the call list.
Clearly define all phone banking objectives so that callers can remain focused and direct at all times.
If a volunteer isn’t meeting the wants and needs of your phone banking efforts, do not turn them away. Instead, find a position in which they can better contribute and still feel valued.
Consider recruiting one or two individuals who can babysit the young children of parent volunteers.
Encourage volunteers to openly listen to and speak with voters directly. Engaging in meaningful conversation is one of the biggest draws for undecided voters.
Ensure you have a follow-up procedure in place for voters who show interest in your candidate and your campaign efforts.
Training is key. Volunteers to feel confident and supported during their time at the phone bank are much more likely to recruit voters than those who don’t.
How to Assign Volunteers
While having volunteers to make the actual calls is imperative, it’s also important to remember that volunteer efforts can be incredibly resourceful and effective in other areas of the phone bank campaign as well. In addition to cold-callers, you can also use the help of volunteers when it comes to filling positions like:
Writing up the script callers will use while on the phone with potential voters
Researching and creating voter profiles with personal information and voting history
Recruiting additional volunteers to contribute to all aspect of the campaign and grow the campaign size
Supporting those making the calls by providing meals, water, snacks, and other beverages
Organizing appreciation events to thank the volunteers for all they’ve contributed to the campaign
When it comes to volunteers, the more the merrier. Even if you have enough people making calls, there are always positions that can be created and filled to further boost the impact of your campaign.
What Call Center Volunteers Should Be Aware Of
Unfortunately, phone bank volunteers who make calls to potential voters are often faced with the ugly side of politics. From dealing with people who are insulting and verbally-abusive to being accused of engaging in illegal political activity, the possibilities of things people can say during political phone calls are endless. However, by going over all of the possible scenarios in detail and providing your volunteers with responses and resources for each one, not only can you reinforce their confidence and education, but you can also ensure that each call will be handled with the respect and grace needed to uphold the integrity of your candidate.
How to Set a Calling Schedule
In order to effectively build a call schedule for your volunteers, you’ll first need to review the number of people on your call list. Though you’ll want to start your phone bank initiatives as early as it will take to complete a proper call to each individual on the list, you must also be sure not to start so early that the first-called voters forget your message. Keep in mind that the number one goal of a political phone bank is to recruit people to the polls, and the closer to Election Day you’re able to do that, the better your candidate’s chances of winning are.
As a general rule, however, you’ll want to begin your call schedule no earlier than the Wednesday prior to the election, with all calls ending on the night of Monday, November 5th. It’s also critical that you keep time zones in mind and not call voters too early or too late in the day. Late afternoons and early evenings are best. Voicent software has automated time zone control so that if calls are set to be started or finished at a certain hour, it can check the target phone number’s timezone and automatically delay the if it’s too early or too late.
Lastly, remind your volunteers to always record their calls and that even if a machine answers and they leave a message, the call should be marked as “completed.” Monitoring calls this way will ensure that each person is contacted and prevent voters from being bombarded by the campaign.
Appreciation Is Key
Individuals heading the campaign must keep gratitude for volunteers at the top of their priorities. There’s never a bad time to thank a volunteer for his or her contribution and it’s a good idea to host a party or volunteer appreciation night once the campaign wraps, regardless of the candidate’s success. Not only do repeated acts of appreciation make volunteers feel like their time was well spent, but it also increases the chances that they’ll volunteer again in the future. By arming your volunteers with the knowledge and support they need, they can be an incredibly powerful, beneficial resource for your campaign.