In states around the country, annual Fourth of July celebrations are being canceled to prevent the spread of COVID-19 cases.
For political campaigns, these cancellations represent the loss of an essential grassroots organizing opportunity, and it is emblematic of the challenges candidates face during this pandemic.
Independence Day parades represent more than just a celebration of our Nation – they also represent opportunities to show how your campaign is bigger, stronger, and more organized than your rivals. Having a large, enthusiastic contingent of volunteers marching alongside your candidate wearing fresh campaign shirts sends a powerful message to people in attendance about your candidate’s appeal.
And the effort itself enables the campaign to expand its volunteer base as participants bring friends and family to join the effort.
Though the rewards from this organizing activity are lost this year, agile campaigns can still take steps this summer to organize volunteers and engage voters. Here are a few quick ideas to consider:
1) Engage people in a non-political fundraising effort for a local cause or charity.
I love this one because I have seen it work well, and candidates are able to authentically advocate for causes in which they are passionate. Candidates looking to make an impact in their local community can do so effectively by aligning themselves with a popular local cause or charity.
A few years ago, VOTEGTR worked with a candidate participating in the annual Polar Plunge event hosted by the Special Olympics – an event in which the candidate had previously participated numerous times. We helped that client create fundraising appeals using Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter that expertly steered donations, not to his campaign, but the Special Olympics. As a result, the candidate expanded his online reach on terms that transcended politics and conveyed a warm personality.
2) Run an online survey soliciting voters’ opinions on important issues.
At VOTEGTR, we like to remind campaigns to think of their websites as a destination for voters to interact and exchange information with your candidate. One of the very best ways to do that is through surveys.
Think of a campaign survey not as a scientific poll, but as a landing page on your website that enables people to provide insight into where they stand on issues and their contact information.
- Want to know whether your supporters support President Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus response? Ask them!
- Want to know whether renaming schools named after Confederate leaders is a good idea? Ask them!
- Want to see whether they support another round of federal economic stimulus? Ask them!
Once your landing page survey is complete, your campaign can take to social media to encourage people to “Express Their First Amendment Rights” to “Be Heard” on “Important Issues Facing Our Community” via Facebook ads and email outreach. Expand your reach by encouraging your immediate supporters to share the survey link with their friends and family, and your reach will extend even more.
Your campaign will have expanded its email list and have some insights on issues that can be queued for contact follow up as opportunity allows.
3) Ask supporters to submit selfie-style videos of themselves talking about what Independence Day means to them and their family.
Even in a COVID-19 world, human interaction is paramount for any effective campaign, and video is the way to do it these days.
In the days and weeks ahead of the June Primaries, VOTEGTR was able to edit footage shot on iPhones into high-quality campaign content featuring motion text, charts, backing music, branding, and voice-overs. With VOTEGTR’s help, candidates can have access to compelling campaign videos without organizing a film crew or travel.
As more local events get canceled, and people tire of Zoom calls, these videos are a great way to present your campaign while staying on message.
4) Organize a vehicle only parade around town.
A lot of campaigns I know purchase campaign placards for use at rallies. Now that rallies as we know them are canceled for the foreseeable future, campaigns can put those placards in a campaign organized parade of vehicles!
Imagine 25 cars and trucks with your campaign materials tapped to the windows driven by volunteers parading around town. The immediate exposure is not only crucial for the candidate, but the footage your campaign can generate along the way will serve as relevant creative for use on Social Media.
If your campaign is struggling to engage voters this summer, contact the pros at VOTEGTR. We can help.
Sean Murphy is the CEO and Founder of VOTEGTR, a digital media service that provides websites and digital advertising to political candidates, political action committees, and ballot initiatives in the United States.