Demanding Legislative Action & Accountability: Using Text Messaging to Flood Elected Officials with Calls

10 minute read

Team Mobile Commons

Demanding action from our state and federal elected officials has become more vital than ever. We all know that different groups within our state and federal government play their part in the creation and passing of a new bill, but all too often, true urgency comes when bills come up for a final vote in the Senate or House chamber. Organizations like yours work tirelessly to impact the process from the very beginning, and we want to make it easier for you to help supporters voice their opinions to their representatives and make noise from the early days up until the last seconds.  

So how do we do this? Keep sending those emails, tweeting, posting, and texting. Your multi-channel approach to staying top of mind, generating outrage, and building community helps to maintain a steady drumbeat of support. But on top of the education and awareness campaigns, you also need to make it easy on your supporters to act. 

At Mobile Commons, we want to help put your mobile messaging program to work (it’s in our name after all). So, let’s look at how you can underpin your education and awareness initiatives with powerful tools that help shorten a supporter’s path to action and get their voices heard where it’ll make the greatest impact. 

One incredibly impactful, yet relatively easy, way for your mobile subscribers to take action is by calling their elected officials, from their local district representatives all the way to their U.S. senators, to demand action. Flooding the offices with calls is a tried-and-true way to express outrage, advocate for what matters to the community, and bring about change for the constituents an elected official is sworn in to help.  

Now you might be thinking, it’s easy to ask supporters to make the call and easy to direct them to a phone directory to find their representatives. But it’s not easy to get them to actually make the call or measure how many calls were made to know if your campaign is even working. However, with the right data and the right mobile tools (looking at you, Mobile Commons), the entire process is simple for both your organization and your mobile subscribers. 

Enter our automated legislative call-routing feature, mConnect. This tool enables Mobile Commons to do the heavy lifting for your organization and your mobile subscribers when it comes to calling their state and federal representatives. We tap into the power of data to personalize messages and simplify the process for your supporters to reach their officials to advocate for the change they want to see.  

So how does mConnect work its magic? mConnect automatically connects constituents by phone directly to their elected representatives by using our built-in district matching capability, then routes the call to the designated federal and/or state official’s office.  

What is district matching, you ask? We use all available location data associated with your subscriber’s profile to identify the exact elected officials that represent them. That means when it’s time to ask a supporter to make a call, they simply use the click-to-call link within the text message to be routed straight to their own rep. No need to ask them to search for the contact on their own or go through a lengthy phone prompt to figure it out.  

What if you don’t have location data for all your mobile subscribers? No worries, we’ve got a solution for that too. First, you can create a text message flow to ask your supporters to reply with their full address, or even just part of it, like a zip code. We then automatically link that information back to the subscriber’s profile, so you can route calls correctly and tap into this data for future targeting and personalization. Alternatively, you can ask your supporter to input their zip code within the call routing process itself, although asking for a zip code within the call routing flow means individuals will only be able to reach their U.S. senator or U.S. congressperson. Zip code is not enough information to reach their designated state and local representatives, which are based on smaller districts and require a full address to pinpoint. Lastly, if you have zero location information and don’t want to ask for a zip code, you can have your subscriber randomly routed to an elected official from the list or ask the caller to make a choice from a pre-selected list. No matter what your data situation, we help empower your callers to reach the right people in power to drive change. 

Now that we’ve covered our bases on how we district match and auto-route calls to the right state and federal officials, let’s explore how the calling experience would play out for your supporters.  

First, your team would record a message from your organization that is played to the caller before routing their call to the appropriate office. In this recorded message, you can share relevant talking points to prepare callers for what to say for greatest impact, help callers through the call process, educate them on other initiatives or events, or express gratitude for dedicating time and effort to your cause. You can also set up recordings in English or Spanish, so callers can choose the language that works best for them, expanding the community that you can reach and influence. 

Once you have a recording ready to go, it’s time to choose where the calls are being routed. You can choose from: 

  • Capitol switchboard 
  • White House switchboard 
  • White House comment line 
  • U.S. senator’s capitol and district offices 
  • U.S. congressperson’s capitol and district offices 
  • State senator’s capitol and district offices 
  • State representative’s capitol and district offices 
  • Governor’s office

After you’ve decided on the category of elected official you’d like to reach, you can choose advanced targeting to get even more specific. Advanced targeting enables you to select from the full list of state or federal representatives within that category. You can exclude certain officials, route all calls to just a few individuals, or even set up round-robin calling so that all officials for a given state or district will be reached by the caller. Don’t forget about call throttling – if you don’t want to flood calls all at once, throttling helps space them out so you can create a steady stream of callers for a different kind of impact. 

Now you’ve got your recorded message ready to share and you’ve selected who will be targeted in your calling campaign. While this is enough to get your campaign ready to activate and send out via text, promote via keyword, or via a click-to-call web form, we don’t make you stop there. We also enable your organization to create follow-up text messages to send after a caller has made their call. Follow-up messages are great as a thank-you message to your supporters or to give them another action to keep the momentum up, like signing a petition or donating.  

Follow-up messages can also be used to grow your list. For example, if someone enters your call campaign by scanning a QR code or texting in a keyword, they may not have opted in yet to receive more messages outside of this single action. In this case, you can trigger a follow-up text to ask them if they’d like to opt-in to future messages from your organization, ensuring you’re compliantly growing your list off the back of these impactful call campaigns.  

Remember earlier when we mentioned it’s easy to ask supporters to make a call, but harder to help them follow through, and even harder to measure? Don’t worry, we’ve got the reporting part covered too. After a call campaign, you can measure how many calls were made, abandoned, and completed, as well as any errors that might have occurred. You can measure where the calls originated from – text, web form, or direct dial – so you know which method is most effective. You can also see who has made the calls, whether they are existing subscribers, non-subscribers, or even supporters who have previously opted out from your mobile messaging program, giving you opportunities to retarget groups based on their involvement and connection to your organization. These automated call campaigns are powerful in the action they drive, and the reporting enables you to optimize future campaigns and keep the power growing. 

By now you likely get the idea of how the feature works, next let’s brainstorm ideas to apply this powerful tool to enact change and advocate for your cause and community.  

  • Route calls to U.S. senators to advocate why they should or shouldn’t confirm a Supreme Court candidate, and to educate them on just how impactful a single judge can be for our future 
  • Reach the U.S. congresspeople responsible for proposing and crafting a new bill for consideration, such as one pushing for protections to our environment, advocating for our right to healthcare, or to protect the civil rights of vulnerable communities
  • Call your state senator pushing for them to vote against a new law that jeopardizes school funding, mental health programs, or loosens gun control restrictions
  • Communicate to a state representative about the local needs of your district so they can push for the government action you need, like discounted meal programs for students or environmental protections to clean up your drinking water

While we’ve focused on illustrating how automated call routing is a powerful tool to drive change by flooding the offices of state and federal elected officials with calls, mConnect can be a flexible tool for many more use cases outside reaching politicians. As long as you have a phone number for someone or somewhere you’d like to reach, the call-routing world is your oyster. A few more capabilities of mConnect include: 

  • Sharing a recorded audio message from your organization, sponsor, or an endorsed political candidate to advocate for a cause, remind supporters to vote, or educate them about an upcoming bill or action 
  • Connecting subscribers to a specific phone number, like your headquarters or a comment line, so they can share their stories, ask questions, or reach out for support resources 
  • Routing subscribers to a phone book of your creation, for example, the offices of corporations, lobbies, or media outlets that you want to target 
  • Playing a recorded message for a caller, and then route them to leave a voicemail, rather than asking them to have a live phone conversation 

Calling elected officials to demand action may be old school, but with Mobile Commons and mConnect your organization can bring in some new school flair. Combining the power of data, automation, and mobile means reaching more supporters, with more targeted and relevant messages in less time. This results in more connected and motivated audiences, and an easier and faster path to action.  

Ready to kick your texting program into overdrive? Speak with one of our mobile experts today, we can help you get a powerful and wide-reaching mobile program running within weeks.

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