The 2024 elections cycle is almost here, and that means presidential, gubernatorial, state, and local office nominees are poised to start pressing those buttons — if they haven’t already — on the telephone.
Importance of Political Dialing Campaigns
While most constituents enjoy the opportunity to chat one-on-one with future potential leaders, these phone calls often catch them off-guard. They haven’t prepared the questions they want to ask and, more than likely, the phone rings just as they’re getting home from work or sitting down to eat a meal with the family.
Politicians never want to risk alienating voters, but the campaign trail could end in ashes for the candidate if an illegal political phone call is made or text message sent.
How do you ensure every call and text message is legal and effective? And could deep canvassing be the answer?
First, let’s look at the laws pertaining to political campaign calls.
Rules for Political Dialing
Political campaigns are not allowed to make certain types of calls or use certain dialing practices. For instance, political campaigns cannot initiate the following types of communication to pagers, mobile phones, or other devices unless the called party has provided explicit consent:
- Autodial or make prerecorded calls as live phone calls
- Autodial text messages
- Pre-recorded voicemails
Emergency numbers, such as 911, local law enforcement, and hospitals, also cannot receive this type of communication. Non-emergency landline phones can receive political calls, regardless of consent, but any pre-recorded message must contain:
- The name of the business, entity, or person initiating the call
- The organization’s name at the start of the message
- A phone number where the caller can be reached, but the placement is inconsequential
What about robotexts?
Political text messages sent using an automated system — known as robotexts — fall under campaign telephone calling rules. Because text messages are typically received on mobile devices, the caller must have the explicit permission of the called party to send these messages. Senders manually sending a text message without an autodialing system do not require permission.
The FCC provides consumers with recourse if they believe they’ve been the target of autodialing or otherwise unwelcomed messaging. Consumers are encouraged to file informal complaints for any text messaging they receive for which they didn’t give consent. Callers who receive an opt-out request must honor it.
Using Deep Canvassing Methods
Every major political campaign requires hundreds, even thousands, of people working toward the same goal. These canvassers call people, walk through neighborhoods knocking on doors, and even host town hall meetings so community members can ask questions directly in person.
A more recent type of canvassing has emerged called deep canvassing. Applying this canvassing technique can prove worthwhile in several situations.
What is Deep Canvassing?
Deep canvassing requires your agents to carry on detailed and sometimes deeply personal conversations with constituents.
Deep canvassing has two fundamental qualities:
- The agent takes an entirely non-judgmental stance and shares their own feelings and conflicts on various important issues.
- By doing so, and asking genuinely curious questions of the called party, your agents can discern what is most important to your community members.
Deep canvassing constituents is all about digging deeper — working together toward a mutual understanding of community interests and concerns based on a foundation of shared, lived experiences rather than the day’s hottest debated topics.
You’ve heard the phrase, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink“. Deep canvassing is like leading your constituents to water and having them respond by drinking freely: deep canvassing leads people away from their learned prejudices and fears to a place of openness and empathy, where they’re willing to look at others’ viewpoints and consider solutions that stigma and prejudice may have blinded them to.
Steps to Achieve Deep Canvassing Over the Phone
The typical political phone script calls for agents to introduce themselves, explain why they’re calling, and to immediately recite the candidate’s positions and plans if elected. Deep canvassing requires a more personalized script to reach constituents. Although this may be more difficult over the phone, it can be achieved.
The following canvassing tips can help your deep canvassing campaign:
Train Your Agents
It’s likely your volunteers have never phone banked before. Even the most experienced phone bank callers have no experience with deep canvassing, so training should take center stage. You need to train your callers to initiate and build a conversation, and how to take it deeper to get at the root of how called parties actually feel about hot button issues.
Employ the Right Scripts
Deep canvassing is about listening more than speaking, but having a loose script is invaluable. It helps begin the conversation and keeps it focused and directed. For instance, having a good opening gets the ball rolling, and encouraging volunteers or agents to pull from their own experiences will keep the conversation genuine.
Use Branching Scripts
Throughout the day, your agents will likely hear many of the same questions, such as how does the candidate feel about X? Or what is their stance on Y? Having your volunteers memorize your campaign platform helps them have answers in the moment. Branching scripts are perfect for this. A branching script takes cues from the called party and lets the conversation be open-ended — the goal is to earn the vote, of course, but the vote isn’t the goal in the call.
Some tips to remember for branching scripts include:
- Don’t use questions with a yes or no answer. This doesn’t allow the conversation to continue and doesn’t pull more information from the voter.
- Use convincing arguments. Some, not all, of your canvassers’ answers should directly tie back into the heart of the candidate’s platform.
- Ditch the script when appropriate. You never know what a called party is going to bring up in conversation. Let your agents know that if the script doesn’t fit the conversation, they can ditch it.
During the call, the goal is to listen and share as genuinely as possible, which in turn helps earn the vote.
Omnichannel Canvasing Solutions
Using omnichannel canvassing solutions, such as door-to-door, phone banking, and text messaging, can help you improve your reach, quickly answer questions, personalize conversations with each called party, get insight into how constituents feel, and increase your votes on Election Day.
Predictive Dialers for Political Dialing
Using the right tools can help your campaign excel. A predictive dialer could be essential in providing your agents the right tool to achieve deep canvassing success.
Predictive dialing solutions:
- Are cloud-based
- Integrate with your CRM or voter information database management platform
- Reduce the amount of work agents have after each call