Claims, assertions, accusations, facts and lies will be flying fast in 2020. There’s a divisive presidential election, and legislatures will hold sessions in 44 states. Is your organization ready to respond—and do so effectively—on the issues that matter most?
You will be if you start planning now. We still have months before the primary season starts in earnest and state lawmakers begin to pass legislation. That’s plenty of time to tune up your rapid response capability.
It’s time well spent. The ability to mobilize grassroots supporters on command is a formidable weapon. An army of passionate constituents who are willing to engage public officials with calls, emails and social posts is far more powerful than a single organization drafting letters and releases. But it takes work to build an effective system.
Tuning Up Rapid Response
There is much that goes into a well-tuned rapid-response grassroots operation, but it can be boiled down to a handful of essential factors, not all of which are obvious. Here are some things to consider:
- Priorities. Effective rapid response requires discipline. Your organization cannot respond to everything, and your efforts would fall short if you did. An audience will only tolerate so many calls to action and you want to make these requests count. Summon your team and discuss in advance what your most important issues will be next year. Which of these issues will demand a response? Narrow the list to maybe three or four issues.
At a recent Phone2Action webinar on preparing for state legislatures, all three panelists endorsed this idea. In order to be ready for the legislative sessions, they gather information, hold discussions and set their priorities in advance. Smart organizations will follow their lead.
- Messaging. When priorities are set, put time into developing messaging that resonates with your audience—and do it early. In order to respond quickly, you need to have your core messaging ready to go. If you have to shape language and develop content from scratch for every response, it’s going to slow you down. If that language is set and you can tap it quickly to launch your campaign, it will speed things up dramatically. Developing messaging is something you can do in advance. Give your organization that advantage.
- Audience. Blasting your entire list is sometimes the way to go. Other times, that tactic is just an untargeted “spray and pray.” The ability to segment your audience is important in order to get the right message to the right advocates, the ones who will care about what’s happening and act. For example, an organization that works to eradicate poverty may have some supporters who care about the minimum wage and others who care about housing. If you launch a campaign on the minimum wage, you want it to go to those who care about that issue. Segmentation, whether by geography, by issue or other factors, is another strategy that can be worked out in advance. When it is time to respond, targeting the right audience will be much easier.
- Education. Advocates will respond much better if they understand your issue. Once you know your priorities, you can begin to educate your audience with information that frames the topic, explains your position and drives home why they should care. A supporter who has been receiving posts, graphics and video on an issue for several months is far more likely to entertain a call to action than someone contacted cold. When you think about messaging, think about education, too.
Technology is Important
The technology that you use to conduct your communications is also a vital component of rapid response. The right advocacy platform can expedite your efforts. If you are using an older system or free tools that are heavy on manual processes and light on analytics, now is a good time to reevaluate.
Professional advocacy software makes it easy to create and launch campaigns quickly, with intuitive features that are all in one place. They do not waste your time with configuration and manual work, and they provide the analytics you need to optimize and adjust your campaigns quickly.
These systems will also have modern tools that can greatly enhance rapid response. Text messaging, for example, allows your organization to communicate in a way that generates far higher conversion rates. Processes like list segmentation and stakeholder management are built in. They also have features like the ability to use social media lead ads to reliably grow your audience. If your technology is rusty, now is a good time to reevaluate.
Overall, rapid response comes down to readiness. When priorities are set, messaging is in place, the audience is well defined and you have solid tools at work, your chances of successful grassroots action dramatically increase. The result is more effective advocacy.
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