Several weeks ago, Jon Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” did a segment on how much time members of congress spend fundraising over the phone. It was said that even long standing Senators or House reps are still spending 3-4 hours a day cold calling contributors to request additional donations. Apparently, each party even has a designated person who’s job it is to make sure every member of the party is keeping up on their call stats.
Having previously managed a call center myself, I never imagined that the same work was being done by our elected officials.
A couple weeks later, while meeting with a local candidate we represent, I broached the subject. He laughed at me and said, “You want to see the script?”
That afternoon, I found myself seated in the conference room of his PA firm, watching as one of the reps went through the most recent call list, and the current status of each contact. My friend and client was drilled on the “Next Steps” for each call, then handed a script and asked to relinquish his electronics for the next four hours while he dialed.
Why? Because it’s tried and true. On the campaign trail, hours a day are spent calling seeking luncheons and dinners with “whales” expected to contribute $1,000-$5,000+ to the campaign, followed by hours more drinking too many coffees and having more meals than one should in a day. The same goes for promoting fundraisers. Then, as election nears, the calls shift focus from donations to confirming commitment to vote.
Oddly, even off the campaign trail, elected officials are still spending hours a day on the phone following scripts.
And it makes sense because it works. Besides, political campaigns are usually such a mad rush to the finish line that they don’t have any time to test anything other than the “Tried and True”.
But now we are seeing this change.
Slowly, we are seeing more political candidates and even elected officials leverage digital to maximize their message impact and win time back in their day.
The same things that can be used for more traditional methods can be used to power targeted digital campaigns. Got emails? Create a custom audience on Facebook. Got Employers? Leverage Display to saturate every screen in an office, or reach employees by job title as they browse their phones on the ride home. Want to deliver a message directly to a Lobbyist group, or attendees at a local event, or even the capitol building on the day of a vote? Digital.
Pounding the phones, knocking on doors and “pressing flesh” certainly work, but it takes very little to get the entire digital landscape working for you while you’re out and about. If you do the work, you can only do more work if you have more hours in a day.
To evolve, candidates must leverage the thousands of cumulative hours a day spent by their constituents staring at their various screens.
It’s no longer about mass communication, it’s about high density impact and resonance.