GUEST POST: How to Connect the with Most Voters

Your Campaign’s Challenge

You have a good candidate. She performs well in debates and interviews, convinces people at the door, the more people meet her the better she will do. You have a problem though.  She will only get to so many doors, a few quotes in the local paper will only get you so far, and the people who show up at all candidates debates are not really the target voter.

How do you get your message out? How can you introduce her to voters in a more in depth fashion than a flyer or a voice broadcast or a radio ad? Maybe hold a meet and greet? So 50 people show up and half are already friends and supporters, it goes well but it’s not enough. How do you scale that up to talk to thousands of people rather than dozens?

Your Campaign’s Solution

Simple: hold a telephone town hall. Allow voters from the comfort of their own homes to spend up to an hour listening to your candidate and asking her questions. Reach out to people directly on the phone, get them where they live and get them listening.

It’s pretty simple, we have the technology to call everyone in your riding at once, and invite them to listen in and ask questions. Your candidate spends some time talking about herself, and her message, and then takes questions from the audience. She can ask questions and conduct polls within the call “Press one if you agree that taxes are too high, press two if you disagree”, and she can spend most of her time answering audience questions, while the rest of the audience gets to listen to both the question and the answer.

You’re In Control

It’s not a free for all though, it’s more like a call in radio show. Your volunteers get to talk to each questioner before they go live, so you get more good solid policy questions and fewer questions about how she was involved in faking the moon landings. Your candidate can communicate with her volunteers and my team using our web interface, which lets you know what’s going on, and allows you to take questions.

Telephone town hall technology allows your candidate to reach out to voters by the thousands, to truly let them get a sense of what she’s like and her stances on the issues. If you have a good candidate, someone who comes across well, you need to be using teleforums to reach out to your voters. If you have an elected official who wants to communicate more regularly with the people he represents, you need to be using teleforums.

For more information, to set up a free demo, or to book a teleforum, feel free to send me an email. I can usually get them set up pretty quickly, and the rates are reasonable. Our staff will make sure you are trained and ready to go before we start dialling numbers.

Jim Ross

Follow at @JimRossStrategy
jimrossstrategy@gmail.com

Back To School

While the House might be delayed in returning, it is still back to school season. The “end of summer” also means a higher percentage of people are monitoring their inboxes.

Now is the perfect time to engage them with a right track / wrong track email! So, to help you out, I have made a complete template you can copy from start to finish.

For this tutorial , I would encourage you to open up C-Vote, C-Source, Your Email Website, and your MP EDA Website.

For your additional convinience I have put some of the pieces in a single file you can download. [ilink url=”http://mphost.yourwebsitehere.ca/files/2013/09/Back-To-School-Kit.zip” style=”download”]Download the Back To School Kit[/ilink]

Show Some Initiative

The first step is to prepare your initiative in C-Vote. Because we are creating a right track wrong track email we can attach a survey to our initiative.

I won’t be providing a tutorial on how to create a survey and initiative here but you can use mine, or copy the examples to create your own.

First I created the survey, you can search for it as Survey #3853. Next step is to create your initaitive, build a run and attach the survey.

I have built a template initiative you should be able to create runs under. Search for it as #8871 or by my last name “Mulvihill” then make a copy of Run #13010.

search initiative brendan

This will provide you with a list to import into your MP Host Email Account.

Drag and Drop It

Go to your main list and click the big green button that says Add New Subscribers.

Just drag the file over and it will import it automatically.

The software will ask you if you’d like to add additional custom fields for the content you are importing.

As a general rule, don’t import data you don’t need into the software. You will never need their street address, but sorting based on City or Postal Code may come in handy.

What you definitely want to add is Constituent Number and Coupon Number. This will make it easier for importing the results into C-Vote.

If you already have the email address in C-Vote, then it will automatically add the new details it didn’t have before.

Now that your list is updated with the most recent data we are going to jump over to our website.

An Engaging Form

The next step is to create your Poll Form. This is fairly straightforward, just remember these four steps to awesome forms.

  1. Fields – Make sure you have all your fields you’d need.
  2. Confirmation – Make sure you edit and personalize the confirmation message
  3. Notification – Make sure you tell the form who to send the submissions to,
  4. Feeds – Make sure your form is talking back to the other websites (Email, PayPal, C-Vote someday) through the feeds

For this form I have already made the template but since it is relatively simple

Below is a quick reference table to the fields used. There are two basic types, visible and hidden. The hidden fields are filled in based on the values you set in the email, but we’ll come back to that in a second.

Field Visibility Parameter Query
Poll Question Yes poll poll=
First Name Yes firstname firstname=[firstname]
Last Name Yes lastname lastname=[lastname]
Email Yes email email=[email]
Postal Yes postal postal=[PostalCode]
Page Source No
URL Source No
Constituent No cv cv=[ConstituentID]
Coupon No coupon coupon=[Coupon]
Campaign No utm_campaign Your Subject Line

It took me a bit to understand these terms “parameter” and “query” and I am sure we could figure out a better way to name and explain them, but the best way to learn is by practice.

If you would like to add or make your own parameters, you can edit it under the advanced settings of individual fields.

field properties advanced fields edits

The parameters are the names of the fields you want to put information into using a custom link. Below is an example of the links as you would put them into an email for this form. Once you have set this up once, the only values you have to change is the “poll=gpoll” It will always be unique to your question.

Right Track

Right Track – http://congratulatory.mphost.ca/vote/?poll=gpoll4ccb4e042&firstname=[firstname]&lastname=[lastname]&postal=K1A0A6&email=[email]&cv=[Constituent]&coupon=[Coupon]

<a href="http://congratulatory.mphost.ca/vote/?poll=gpoll4ccb4e042&firstname=[firstname]&lastname=[lastname]&postal=K1A0A6&email=[email]&cv=[Constituent]&coupon=[Coupon]">Right Track</a>

Wrong Track

Wrong Track – http://congratulatory.mphost.ca/vote/?poll=gpoll4d341db2d&firstname=[firstname]&lastname=[lastname]&postal=K1A0A6&email=[email]&cv=[Constituent]&coupon=[Coupon]

<a href="http://congratulatory.mphost.ca/vote/?poll=gpoll4ccb4e042&firstname=[firstname]&lastname=[lastname]&postal=K1A0A6&email=[email]&cv=[Constituent]&coupon=[Coupon]">Right Track</a>

Assembling Your Email

You have your initiative set-up, a fresh list, and you have your form ready. Now you just need to assemble your email. I say assemble, because you are busy and you don’t need to duplicate work already done.

First you’ll need some text to go before the question but a long editorial will never get the reader to the bottom of the email.

I like C-Source’s new Proactive Letters to the editors section. Short and timely, they act as a great template for your email. Simply search for “HELPING STUDENTS SUCCEED” or go add this to the url when you are logged in ?p=21476

Now you need a good picture to go with it, ideally 600px wide.

Here is one I think you can safely use from the Prime Minister’s website that I have scaled down to 600px wide.

Back to School

backtoschool_chalkboard_600

After they Vote

I hope this template initiative provides you with a good overview and a head start in creating a regular schedule and system of asking for input then following up to thank them for their input.

Because that is where the real value happens.

Everybody who takes the time to respond should get a personalized follow-up and a proper thank you. It will increase the likelihood of them answering your next call to action.

[ilink url=”http://mphost.yourwebsitehere.ca/files/2013/09/Back-To-School-Kit.zip” style=”download”]Download the Back To School Kit[/ilink]

If you have any suggestions or questions, please, feel free to leave a comment below.

The Call To Action

The Call to Action Email Template keeps the clutter to a minimum so your call to take action is clear.

The Future of Political Email

To learn about the future of political email marketing, complete the form below and return to your inbox.

We will send you a copy of each of our newsletter formats plus a very special type of e-mail to boost your click rates.

[gravityform id=”11″ name=”The Future of Political Email” title=”false” description=”false” ajax=”true”]

Reason #11

The-Tory-Digital-Political-Age

I wrote a post in the fall giving my top ten reasons your MP office should switch to CRG’s website program.

Here is reason number 11 

[quote style=”boxed”]4. The Operative The niche approach is collapsing in the consulting world, and it needs to collapse on campaigns and committees too. It’s time the Republican political establishment started placing a premium on digital acumen.  The GOP doesn’t need more operatives who are defined narrowly as the “political guy” or the “internet gal.” Today’s political environment requires a new breed of operatives who can do both, hand-in-hand.[/quote]

The above is from the article about Republicans needing to make a cultural change. The first three points are interesting and to varying degrees applicable to Canada, but the fourth point on the need to breed a species of digital campaigners is essential. In order to fight the campaigns of tomorrow, we need to have campaigners who understand how to run a poll canvas, but also campaigners who know how to organize and plan it using the digital tools at hand.

That’s why I am calling this Reason #11 for joining the CRG website program. The websites run on WordPress which provide you with a very easy introduction to digital, and at the very least, give you power over one of your most important communication channels.

The Gallery Famly

You ask a lot from your supporters. Share something unique or special, and just ask them to pass it on.

New Year, New Products

I hope you are as excited for the new year as I am! While our government prepares to bring forth the 8th consecutive Conservative Budget, Conservatives across the country are preparing delegate selection meetings for the National Convention in June.

At MP Host.ca, the new year marks the launch of our new line of e-mail publishing products. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you and your staff to connect with your constituents.

We offer three Email Plans designed to match your budget and ambition:[unordered_list style=”tick”]

Also coming in 2013:

  • Our sister company, EDA Help.ca, is busy preparing two major updates to our EDA Website Program, in our continuing effort to provide better political technology for Conservatives.
  • We are planning a major expansion to FindAConservative.ca, as part of our project to connect Conservatives online.
  • And finally, in June, we will be officially launching YourWebsiteHere.ca to provide individual Conservatives with digital political services.

[/unordered_list]While the new year promises to be a great year for Conservatives, at MP Host.ca, our focus remains on one day in 2015, and the 36 days leading up to it.

Contact us today to start the New Year with a Newsletter.

Our E-Newsletter Family

Brand Ready Email Newsletter Templates

Most email providers will supply you with a basic template you can make minor tweaks to. At MP Host.ca we build email templates specifically for Conservative Members of Parliament.

Each newsletter template was designed to match the 4 most popular website designs. All of our templates feature multiple layout options and have been test on every major email provider.

Click on any of the pictures to view the full email template.

[fourcol_one]

bluevictorytemplate

Blue VicTory E-Newsletter Template

The Blue VicTory Newsletter Template is our homage to the original CRG Website Theme. Blue VicTory employs the classic tory style blue buttons.

[/fourcol_one] [fourcol_one]

congratulatorytemplate1x1

Congratulatory E-Newsletter Template

Based on the mobile friendly CRG website, CongratulaTory features a brighter blue banner and richer hued blue buttons.

[/fourcol_one] [fourcol_one]

theablbertantemplate

The Albertan E-Newsletter Template

Based on the Edmonton based website provider, the Albertan features the offset profile pic forgoes the contrasting masthead for a decorative background.

[/fourcol_one] [fourcol_one_last]

the British Columbian

The British Columbian E-Newsletter Template

Modeled on the new website theme from the B.C. based website provider, this email template features framed borders for your featured images and captions. The BC also employees the only masthead with a gradient.

[/fourcol_one_last]

Why a FindAConservative.ca

What is Find A Conservative?

Finding ConservativesBased on Google Analytics I know a few staffers have had an early opportunity to visit my special project, FindAConservative.ca.

You might be asking, why not just use Google if you are looking for a Conservative MP? And you’d be crazy not to!

The purpose of the site is to make it easy to find and follow all the Conservative MPs in one place. Of course, both Wikipedia and and parl.gc.ca do that, and provide either more biographical detail or provide more legislative details. Even the Party’s Website has all the Members.

But nobody links to the Conservative Associations, and then links them with there Conservative Members or targets their opposition members. Elections Canada’s website has a list, but good luck finding it.

And that is the real purpose of the project. Search Engine Optimization.

Over the last year, since starting to manage my first MP Website, I have been learning all that I can that is of use to political staffers in the digital age. One thing I did learn is you do not need to worry about SEO for your MP. You may want to tidy up your page descriptions, but the simple fact is your Member’s website is a bright shinning beacon on the internet.  How easy is your MP website to find on the internet? A good test is to misspell your MP’s name or just use the first name or just the last name and see how high it shows up.

If people who can’t spell your Members name can find your MP site, you don’t need to worry about SEO.

But what about your Member’s EDA website? Not surprisingly since nobody links to it, very few show up. You are barred from linking your MP website to your EDA website. So, I have set out to tell the internet that these two things are related.

And it is working. It is working better then I had even anticipated.

But it can be better.

It can do more. But, I need your help. I need help tracking down the rest of the data and adding more links. Actually, if you are reading this blog, you have access to update your MP’s Profile. I hope to add the ability to edit EDA and Campus Club information shortly, but the most important part is adding the links for MPs.

If your Member is on the CRG Web Program it was fairly easy to find your links, but if not, it took some searching, and even then, I could not ensure I found everything.

Check your Members Page or go to the edit page and add any links so see are missing. The more links the better. The big ones are obviously Facebook, Twitter, but don’t forgot about YouTube, Google+, or Flickr.

Currently there are a number of extra fields not being used, such as the RSS field, but once we have enough of those links we can begin stream more Conservative MP news to more people at the NewsDesk, currently under-construction.

Obviously adding more links and more content to the MP and EDA profiles has to be my priority, but the site needs a lot of work visually and useability. If you have ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear about them.

FindAConservative.ca is currently a “marketing site”, in that the dead-links for associations link back to EDA Help.ca’s Conservative EDA website page. While “cute”, it really is only temporary.

I also have the .org and my goal is to move the site into a open source community driven project and remove the marketing. If your interested or have any suggestions for the website, please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me directly.

Why a MP Host Network Part 1

We are big fans of the CRG Web Program. Right out of the box, the CRG Website Theme Blue Victory provides almost everything you need.

Almost.

In order to make your site a true digital constituency office, it would require some additional plugins. Reviewing the options, I obviously gravitated to the most popular free plugins because they worked on thousands of sites and the price was right for a limited MOB. The problem with even free plugins was the best ones required additional support in terms of set-up.

Many of the commercial plugins also provided a superior user experience, but wouldn’t make financial sense to be purchased by a single Member’s Office.

Finally, when I spoke to technical advisers about what I wanted to do, they stressed the importance of moving to a dedicated server, but explained the higher costs involved.

So, to build a truly digital constituency office for my MP, I needed:[unordered_list style=”arrow”]

  • Technical support beyond what CRG could provide
  • Commercial Plugins and Custom Plugins
  • Better security

[/unordered_list]The solution my advisers provided was a WordPress Network running on a dedicated server.

The MP Host Network provides the economy of scale to allow Conservative MP Offices running a Word Press site the ability to access commercial plugins, extended support, and run on a secure server, for the cost of a regular hosting package.

We built the MP Host Network to provide more resources to your Office at a lower cost to your MOB.

But we are only just getting started. In Part 2, we will detail the just some of the extra features available when your site is hosted on our Network.