How do you continue to campaign amid a pandemic?

If you are reading this blog after January 2020, the world has been dealing with a new reality of not being able to be close to each other in public for fear of catching a virus. Hopefully, a cure or vaccine will come soon so we can meet each other again and have face to face conversations like we used to do. But until then, things will have to change and that change impacts political campaigns tremendously.

For example, a standard norm for a political campaign is to hold rallies, house parties, fundraisers, and canvass neighborhoods by going door to door. All of these activities bring people in close contact with each other. With the coronavirus still out there, that is something you do not want to do. The chance of catching coronavirus from having contact with individuals in close proximity is high and therefore those activities must be put on hold and other methods of connecting with the voters must be used. How do you replace house parties and fundraisers where the people go to meet and interact with the candidate? You must still connect with the voters and right now the only way to do that is through video or phone call.

If you have a phone list of potential voters or people you have already targeted, I suggest the candidate call this list of people. Remember this activity takes the place of walking the neighborhood. No one will want to touch any literature left by a stranger and no one wants strangers knocking on their door during a pandemic crisis. A phone call is the only chance to have a personal interaction with the candidate. The voter can have their questions answered directly and the candidate can make the same impression as if sitting in the voter’s kitchen having coffee.

The other important campaign activity a campaign should be doing is phone banking. You should have already had this operation set up and going thru the lists marking people as “yes, no, or maybe” and each call gets closer to your vote total needed to win. Your phone bank team should be trained and experienced enough to be able to do this from their own home since people are not congregating in an office. They should send back their results by email to the data manager who will update the master list. Any new volunteers that want to phone bank for the campaign should be trained by video on the best practices of the campaign. You can choose which video conferencing software works best for your needs.

Once you have the candidate making phone calls and volunteers making phone calls to potential voters, what do you do to replace the house parties? Some video conferencing apps and software allow for more than one person to in on the call. I would make a special invite for say 5-10 people and have a video chat with them about your policies and still make the pitch to donate to your campaign. The group is small enough to let everyone get a chance to ask a question or make a comment. Keep it to less than an hour and schedule these type of fundraising video calls throughout the week. Have a fundraising goal for each call and a goal for the end of each week. Remember, these calls replace any face-to-face fundraising that you were planning on doing. Phone calls to solicit money, mailers to ask for money and internet solicitations are in addition to the video calls. You will need to leverage all forms of raising money to keep the campaign going.

In summary, until there is a cure or vaccine and life can go back to normal, phone banking must increase to replace neighborhood canvassing, video conferencing must replace house parties and fundraisers. As far as what the internet version of a campaign rally looks like I would suggest recording a video or doing a live broadcast to speak with your supporters. Perhaps field some questions from the crowd as they submit questions by email, Facebook or twitter.

I hope this helps gives you some ideas on how to weather this storm and overcome some obstacles you may be facing. I hope you all stay safe and win your election!

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