Grassroots programs are the wave of the future in political campaigns, especially for races in areas with lopsided fund raising, low voter turnout or candidates with less name recognition than their opponent. In today’s anti-incumbent, anti-political machine environment, the party that gets out there and interfaces with the public can steal the advantage. The grassroots approach provides the opportunity for dialogue, bring the race down to a personal level and lets voters feel they are truly being heard and counted.
The difficulties with this type of campaign is that it is labor intensive, needs a lot of people involved to be truly effective and requires a great deal of communication and organization. The people involved need to be thorough in their commitment to reaching out to the public, but cannot overly bombard the same people while leaving others unattended. Efforts must be coordinated to use resources to their fullest potential, especially if several groups are joining forces to work on the campaign.
Finding the right people in the necessary quantity is the key to grassroots action. These people are representing you and your message. They are identified in a voter’s mind with your candidate, what they stand for and what kind of person votes for them. There has to be an element about your spokespeople that will resonate with the group or neighborhood they will be speaking with. If there is no commonality, your people will be ignored or dismissed as “not one of me” and will not be effective. But a spokesperson that the listener can identify with has a much better chance of getting attention and a positive response.
Volunteers are the usual source of people to staff this kind of program, since the manpower would be very expensive to pay for. To an extent, with volunteers, beggars can’t be choosers. That is why pairing the right person to work the right neighborhood is extremely important and will let you use the individual character of the volunteer to best effect. Making sure you have the same safe, well-worded and consistent message across your group of volunteers is important as well.
Coordinating efforts requires a system that allows for fast and easy networking for a large number of people in a reliable way. A service like GenieVOX can really help with this. You can send and receive voice messages of up to 3 minutes to and from any number of people in one easy step. Members can receive the message via phone, text messaging or email, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can also return a message at the touch of one button- ideal for people out in the field. You can also leave messages to be retrieved by members in your box, much like an audio billboard. Use your messages as reminders, updates, affirmations, policy statements, directions and confirmations. Best of all, this service only costs $4.95 a month and features no contract. This service gives you all the convenience of texting and email, but without the limits of texting and impersonal nature of email.
Committed people spreading your candidates message to the right group of people as part of a well-organized and well-informed effort was the key to Obama’s success in 2008. You can harness it in your own party or candidate’s campaign effort.