Empower your volunteers’ skill sets

Empower your volunteers’ skill set

You are currently reading Step 2 in a five part series, click here for the intro and ToC

The benefits of this approach is covered a bit in the first section, but empowering volunteers goes beyond a shared work space.

In most campaigns, there are basic asks of supporters: donate money, knock on doors, phone bank, and host meet and greets. These roles are still critical and serve as the foundation for any candidate campaign. However, focusing exclusively on these roles limits potential for a far more robust volunteer army.

At fundraisers for this last campaign, I drank beer and bullshitted with attendees. Instead of hounding them for money or signing them up for door knocking, I would get to know them and gain an understanding of their passions and professional skills. Through this process, our campaign gained a stable of volunteers willing to assist in a wide range of ways; from painting a mural on the side of another supporter’s shop, to event planners willing to help the fundraising team on major gatherings.

In fact, most of our digital assets were made for free by volunteers. We had four different videographers, two film editors, a sound mixer/editor, a composer, and over 10 graphic designers. Here are a couple examples of what a volunteer made ad can look like. In both cases, the content and messaging was produced by the core campaign team and volunteers were used for execution. Same for different social media cards.

Most people don’t have the expendable income needed to make contributions. These folks also may not feel comfortable knocking on doors or making phone calls. However, they want to help the campaign and are willing to pitch in to help get their candidate into office. Empower them to help in their own unique way.

You got to get yourself a social media brigade

These folks are normally “Johnny on the Spot” in terms of social media defense. This team is also generally fantastic in research. For example, the core team hears a rumor about the opponent, so, they tell the rumor to the brigade and ask for folks to look into the rumor and see if there are any hard facts. You should also have those folks to do your internal opposition research. I’ve found that new parents who can’t sleep are great at going to dark places on the internet — maybe they’re seeking vengeance for their lack of sleep? Anyway, I wish we had our supporters dig internally earlier on in the race.

Build a rapid response FB group

These folks are a bit different from the social media brigade because it is often comprised of an older group of people with deep knowledge of the candidate and/or district. The brigade can be comprised of new supporters and they tend to be a bit younger. Obviously, there’s a great deal of crossover.

As with most of these suggestions, careful screening on people needs to be done at the outset. Individuals don’t need to live in the district, they just need to be strong supporters of the campaign — and trustworthy human beings.

This private group of supporters can offer insight to the campaign in terms of opponent movements, rumors spreading in the neighborhoods, and news items that could be beneficial to the campaign. They also serve as a massive megaphone tasked with drowning out misinformation about the campaign/candidate.

They are also the first group to share all FB Live videos and new campaign content. Our RR page had around 70 members from around the world (we had doctoral researchers for more policy based needs), and these people were pretty good at live sharing content from the campaign.

Let volunteers have fun and take ownership

We had a debate planned for May 4th, so, on their own, our supporters built a debate flyer that looked like a Star Wars poster, and several others made photoshopped memes of the candidate as Obi-Wan or Han for social sharing. Sadly, the candidate imploded before we could launch.

The main purpose for having volunteers support the campaign through their passions and skills is that it increases overall engagement with the campaign. You can build a network of ambassadors that are members of radically different communities. Seth Godin is over hyped, but this philosophy is worth consideration when looking at our segmented electorate.

Increase and equip your Trackers

Republicans are talking circles around themselves right now. Backing Trump means supporting one position one day and abandoning it in following news cycle. Stalking all social media accounts surrounding the opponent is a new form of campaign tracking. Videos need to be downloaded immediately if the other candidate slips up, and it takes someone with enough political savvy to catch these moments. Each campaign should have a mini Daily Show team ready to cut together these contradictory comments with a fairly tight turnaround time.

The same can be said for all planned public engagements. Get a proper team set up to gather quality video and sound. Debates even on the school board level must be geared to an audience far beyond the auditorium. Film the opponent pandering one way to one group and the opposite way to another group. Edit the comments together and you have several digital ads and multiple press releases.

Trackers get barred at the door all the time — “Sorry, this is a private event and the owner has asked you to stay on public property.” But hey, almost everyone in the audience records speeches now, so pull those videos with a tool like GetThemAll.

Step 3: Targeted neighborhood testimonials