Robocall Guidelines for Political Campaigns and Candidates

We've been assisting candidates for years with their robocall campaigns and it's one of our core services here at Monarch Broadcast.  Our experience, coupled with a focus on best practices, has enabled us to provide candidates with this powerful technology in a way that maximizes its reach and produces positive results.

You can go to our Political Robocall page directly, by clicking here: http://www.monarchbroadcast.com/political_robo_calls

It's also important to work within the law.  Political robocalls are regulated in some states, and totally banned in others.  That's why it's critically important that you abide by the letter of the law.

Generally speaking, the federal government and most states permit political robocalls.  A little known fact is that candidates are permitted to robocall phone numbers that are on the country's "Do Not Call" list.  Individual state laws regarding robocalls vary, however federal law mandates that the pre-recorded messages must identify who made the call and also including the identifying address or a legitimate phone number.

While robocalling can be the quickest, most efficient, and inexpensive way to get their messages heard, it can also backfire and cause a candidate to lose votes. 

Below are a few of the most important guidelines you should consider before launching a robocall campaign:

1) The biggest advantage of robocalling is that, as opposed to radio and television, the calls can be directed to individuals who actually vote.  Furthermore, voter listings can be isolated into subgroups and specifically targeted messages can be delivered to each distinct group.  For instance, you may want to generate a different message to send to senior citizens and come up with another one for individuals living in a specific community or city.

2) It's important that you identify yourself and keep your message no longer than 30 seconds.  Unless you are responding to a last minute attack, try to keep your message upbeat and thank the voter for their support.  

3) Plan your message(s) in advance instead of waiting until the last minute. An efficiently managed robocall campaign could take weeks to put together but will be well worth the effort.  Be sure you have an effective, appropriately formatted list put together (using Microsoft's Excel program) and schedule a consultation with us.  In most cases, voter phone lists are public information and obtainable from local and/or state election boards.

4)  Most candidates wait until the day before election to send their robocall.  The problem is that all the other candidates do the same thing.  Voters get infuriated that they are being bombarded with several calls all at once.  Don't get lost in the last minute scramble for votes.  You'll make more of an impression delivering a message a few days before everyone else is in a mad rush.

5) Inform us of the Caller ID number you want voters to view, using a phone number that is associated with the campaign.  That number will receive a lot of calls since many voters will call back wondering who called them.  The best practice when it comes to robocalls is having your Caller ID number go to a recorded greeting that identifies your political campaign and allows them to leave a message.  Please know that some people will call and ask you to remove their number from your list.

6) Conduct your robocall campaigns during the day instead of during the evening hours to avoid interrupting family activities and dinnertime.  Prerecorded messages can also be left on answering machines, giving the recipients the opportunity to listen to the candidate's entire message at the time when it is convenient for them. 

7) As with any other form of political advertising, robocall service providers require payment in advance.  We will estimate the cost of your job in advance and charge your credit card, adjusting with an immediate refund credit or addition charges when we determine the final cost.  Costs can vary depending on the quality of your list.  For example, you aren't charged with undeliverable calls -- bad phone numbers, disconnected lines, and busy signals -- so it's hard to say ahead of time how many calls will actually get through.  As a rule of thumb, you can estimate that about 75-80% of the calls will get through, either to a live person or with a message left on an answering machine.

The practice of using robocalling is marked by controversy with advocates saying that it upholds free speech, while its opponents associate it with telemarketing, feeling that robocalling should be outlawed altogether. Robocalling, while it can be an effective and powerful medium of communication, at times it's the "power" that makes the receiver see it as an invasion of privacy.

All in all, if these guidelines are taken to heart, you can use robocall technology to your advantage.

To find out more about specific federal requirements and state laws concerning robocalls, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robocall