Grassroots advocacy has taken on a new life in the recent months. Advocacy organisations are encouraging their supporters to connect with their representatives through email, direct mail, social media, telephone and in person. People are primarily encouraged to call their senators and representatives to voice their opinion on a congressional matter, because, unlike sending emails or message on social media, a real conversation with your representative has been consistently stated as the best way to get congress to hear you.
Activists of every political persuasion have stressed the importance of being personal in your outreach. Emily Ellsworth, a writer and editor from Salt Lake City is one of the popular proponents of calling your representatives. In her series of tweets that went viral last year, Ms.Ellsworth recounts from her experience working for Utah Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart about how hearing the voices of constituents through phone calls felt more personal than email or letter.
What are Patch Through Calls And Why Are They Important To Grassroots Advocacy
Since the political pundits have concluded that calling is the way to go, you’d think people across the country would be picking up their phone to talk to their representatives. Grassroots organisations have made it extremely simple for people to connect with their representatives through click-to-call campaigns and call to actions through SMS and e-mail. But people are still hesitant to pick up their phones and make calls. It’s not surprising since we’re all familiar with the anxiety that goes with calling a stranger. There is the fear of saying the wrong thing, not knowing what to say; just that general feeling of being out of your comfort zone that people would rather not endure.
This is where patch-through calling can truly work wonders. By placing volunteers as a liaison between citizens and their representatives, the platform eliminates people’s innate dread of making calls. These volunteers then tutor the supporters about concerned issues and take them through exactly how to carry out a conversation with their representative.
So how exactly does patch-through calling work?
Organizations and campaigns use patch-through calling when they need to drive hundreds or even thousands of calls to elected officials. Volunteers upload contact information to the calling software and reach out to them using an outbound dialer. When the call connects the volunteer carries out a live conversation with the contact and patches the call through to the concerned representative. The volunteer then either moves on to the next caller or patches the call through to the next representative.
How to Make Effective Patch-through Calls
Run a distributed campaign
Running a distributed effort where each constituency is clubbed under a different campaign increases the effectiveness of your message. Assign volunteers to regions based on their fluency with the issues concerning that particular constituency. This effectively increases response rates and allows agents to focus on issues pertaining to their calling area.
Call the right representative
Connecting your callers with a big list of senators and representatives and tying up their phone lines is not the way to run your campaign. It’s a waste of time, money and hinders offices from communicating with their constituents. So, make sure that supporters are connected only to representatives of their state.
Handle full mailboxes or answering machines
With the volume of calls being made, it’s no wonder that most representatives voice mails are full. Don’t let the opportunity pass. Ask the supporter to leave a message anyway. You can record this message and use it later in your campaigns. Send it over to the representative by email or post too. Make sure that every voice is heard.
Tutor supporters about the specifics
These supporters you’re putting through to their representatives may not be well versed in the etiquette or specifics of conversing with their representative. It’s up to volunteers to make sure that supporters get their message across in the best possible way. Here’s what you need to tutor supporters about carrying out the conversation:
It’s important that the staffer knows that the caller is from their district. Make sure callers state their name and town clearly or provide a zip code. If they are uncomfortable in giving their name, offering their town and zip code is a good start.
Being polite and respectful
Callers may disagree with their representative on certain issues, but it is not helpful to yell or use profane language. Keeping an even tone and using clean language is the best way to get your representative to listen to you.
Callers need to be specific about how a certain piece of legislation affects them. If they are unaware of the specifics, take time to understand their concerns and then tutor them about it such as, the related bill number, what the government is doing about it, the specific action they should be taking, verifiable facts about the issue and it’s importance to the constituency.
How to get started
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