Best Political Outreach Tool: Town Hall Phone Conference

Over the last few years town hall phone conferences have become more and more popular, offering a fast and efficient way for elected officials to reach out to a large audience.  Within minutes, tens of thousands of numbers can be dialed to your target audience.

This is one of our core service offerings here at Monarch Broadcast, so if you are interested in learning more, just give us a call at 888-387-8636 or visit our product page here:  http://www.monarchbroadcast.com/town_hall_teleconference.html

In contrast to radio and television messages, town hall phone conferences can be set up to target a specific audience, such as primary voters.  This is a tremendous advantage when trying to utilize resources efficiently for constituent outreach, since cost per contact is significantly lower than other media channels.  In addition, the technology provides two way communication using question and answer sessions, which provides valuable insight into what your constituents are thinking.  If you choose, you can also use screeners, who screen questions to help keep the conversation focused properly.

You may also conduct live surveys during your call, with participants using their touch tone phone to select their answer choices.  It's also important to note town hall conferences are opt-in only, meaning that as the system dials thousands of numbers, callees opt-in to the call by just remaining on the line.  If they are not interested in participating, they just need to hang up.  Unlike radio and television, where there is a forced audience that includes many uninterested people who "tune out," a town hall conference engages people who are interested and want to listen.

Town hall phone conferences have become a widely used tool for elected officials to engage with their constituents because,

1.  It provides an efficient way to reach thousands of voters in minutes, giving them the opportunity to hear you speak live about the issues at hand.

2.  Comments aren't revised by media organizations to fit into brief sound bites.  You may discuss any issue and explain your stance without interruption or distortion.

3.  Your constituents will appreciate your efforts to engage them and show that their views and opinions are important to you.

4.  You will know immediately how your constituents feel about hot button topics, through live surveys and also from the questions they ask.

5.  Your constituents don't even need to leave their homes in order to take part (and neither do you!) This increases the participation rate over traditional in-person style town halls, and more people will ask questions and participate in polling questions because they will feel less self conscious. Everyone can participate from the comfort of their own home, and they will appreciate the convenience.

Bottom line:  Town hall phone conferences provide an easy and highly effective way to contact and communicate with your target audience and we stand ready to help you leverage this technology in your efforts to improve your outreach program.  Give us a call today.

How Tele-Town Hall Meetings Work: Outreach Technology to Engage Voters and Members

Have you've received a recent call asking you to join a Tele-Town Hall conference?  If so, you are one of millions of people who have been invited to participate in a new town hall format in last few months.  These town hall teleconferences, that take place in real-time and on the phone, are being used by elected officials, political action groups, non-profit organizations and associations, and corporations, to interact with constituencies and members.

Providing Tele-Town Hall services is one of our core offerings here at Monarch Broadcast and we would welcome the opportunity to show you how you can use this amazing technology to widen your outreach and dramatically improve communications with your important contacts.

Please call us at 888-387-8636 or click here to be taken immediately to our product page:  http://www.monarchbroadcast.com/town_hall_teleconference.html

Without question, this technology is rising dramatically in popularity because it is the fastest, easiest and most effective way to interact with hundreds, or thousands, of people at once.

There are several large advantages this technology offers you:

1)  You don't need any special equipment or software -- everything is already online.
2)  You don't need to depend on people to remember when to call into the town hall conference.  The system dials them directly and invites them to join.
3)  Participants can join while in the comfort of their homes or offices.  No need to fight traffic, worry about the weather and other delays, and go to the expense of renting our halls or conference rooms.
4)  It's interactive, so you can take instant polls and surveys.
5)  You can host live question and answer sessions (questions can be pre-screened) and let participants hear what others are thinking or doing.

So how does this all work?  Here are the general step-by-step actions you need to take to host your own town hall teleconference:

1)  Contact us for a rate sheet and service agreement. The cost is based on the number of connects, but we can estimate based on the number of people on your list.
2)  Fill out and send back the service agreement, including the date and time you want to hold your event.
3)  Email your list to us in an xls or csv file.
4)  Call in to create your introductory recordings for live answers and answering machines
5)  Set up a time for a training session so you can see first-hand how to work the online controls and ask any questions you may have about hosting the event
6)  (Optional) Send out an automated call in advance to let people know that you are holding a town hall event

Chances are, after your first experience in hosting a town hall telconference event, your mind will be racing with all sorts of possibilities.  That's because you can target specific audiences for focused topics.  For example, you may want to discuss senior citizen issues and have your invitation go only to those who are 65 or older (if you have the ability to sort your list.)  Maybe you want to talk to your managers, rather than all of your distributors.  Maybe you want to isolate your discussion to a certain geographic area.  There are unlimited opportunities to leverage this amazing technology to meet your specific needs.

There is virtually no limit to the number of people you can invite on a conference call.  The system works for 50 to 500,000 -- you can even have over a million people.  So whether your Tele-Town Hall meeting is small or big, you'll soon come to appreciate how effective it is as an integral part of your communications and outreach program.  It's revolutionizing the way groups connect without the usual expenses that are associated with large physical gatherings.

Hosting a Town Hall Meeting Over the Phone

Maybe you've received a call asking you to join a town hall meeting. The recording invites you to join by staying on the line and in a few seconds you find yourself a participant in a huge virtual meeting with several thousand or more people. The host introduces him or herself and might even take questions. The whole thing is a very convenient way to stay in the loop in the comfort of your home or office.

If you are an political office holder or candidate, or a leader of a non-profit organization or association, or the head of a corporation interested in keeping its customers or investors informed, you have probably thought about the idea of hosting a town hall meeting over the phone.

Quite simply, it is the easiest, fastest and least expensive way to get hundreds or thousands of people on the same page. Think of it as having your own radio show over the telephone. The town hall teleconference technology can dial hundreds of people every minute resulting in a conference call that can easily host all of your members or constituents.

With online controls, you can do all sorts of things... You can see in real time the number of people who are joining your call (and leaving your call). You can take instant polls ("If you like Apple pie, press 1. If you don't, press 2.) You can even take questions from conference participants. There is a screening feature that is included so you can keep everyone on track and focused on the topic of your choice without getting side tracked.

Best of all, the cost of hosting a town hall teleconference, also known as Tele Town Hall®, is a fraction of what it would cost to have the same number of people situated in a large conference or convention center. And that doesn't even count the huge transportation expenses it requires to fly people in from all over the country, or world.

Providing this service is our of our core offerings here at Monarch Broadcast Messaging and we stand ready to assist you in getting started with this amazing online technology. You can give us a call at 888-387-8636 or click on this Town Hall Teleconference link to go to our product informational page. This will transform the way you think about communications and will enable you to handle your outreach communications with much more clarity and impact.

Tele-Town Hall®: 4 Things You Should Know Before Conducting a Virtual Meeting

Mass communication can take on several forms, but Tele-Town Hall® technology is unquestionably the most effective way to virtually engage an audience of thousands. It is, quite literally, a town hall style meeting on a telephone conference call that can accommodate any number of people, from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands.

This technology is being embraced not only for political outreach, but for association and corporate purposes as well. It is an ideal way for non-profit groups and businesses to provide important updates and to enable stakeholders to engage their leadership and express their thoughts and opinions.

Best of all, your constituents, members, or interested parties, don't have to remember when to dial into the conference.  The system dials-out to them.  Everyone just picks up the phone and is asked if they want to join your call.  If they want to participate, they just need to stay on the line.  They can also simply hang up if they are unable to participate at that time.  (Some clients have found it useful to send a phone message a day beforehand, to let people know a conference is scheduled and to expect to receive an invite.  Many look forward to the call and joining the conference.)

Tele-Town Hall® is one of the many services we offer here at Monarch Broadcast and here is a quick review on how it all works:

1)  There is no equipment or software to purchase.  The service can be accessed online so you only need a regular phone and an Internet connection.  We can set up your account within a couple of minutes and there are no start-up costs, and we also schedule your event on the date and time that you want.

2)  Once you have your account, we give you one-on-one training so you know exactly what to do when your Tele-Town Hall® starts.

3)  Next, prepare your phone list in a regular spreadsheet.  Many additional fields can also be accommodated such as name, address, city, zip, state, company etc.  Phone numbers, including area code, should be in one column.  If you are wanting to reach a specific demographic, you can target your list to reach that group. Your list can then be emailed to us, to upload into your account.

4) Finally, your prompts need to be recorded.  Your prompts are the messages that we will deliver to live answers and answering machines when we dial out to your list to invite them to participate.  The live answers will be invited to join the conference.  Answering machine answers will receive a message that essentially says "sorry we missed you" and identifies who was calling and the purpose of the call.  Either way, your audience will know that you reached out to engage them.

There are a number of advantages this amazing technology offers.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The system can dial hundreds of phone numbers simultaneously, so when you start your conference you can expect to see a large number of people joining very quickly.  The system gives you real-time statistics so that you can see how many people are on your call at any time.  Please remember that people will be joining, and leaving, your call at all times.

One of the strongest benefits of this technology is that it's interactive!  Yes, you can open your conference up and allow participants to ask questions and share thoughts one at a time.  You have complete control of the muting and unmuting of each individual.  In addition, there is a "screening" feature that will enable you screen each person who wants to ask a question, if you choose, which enables you to verify their name as well as identifying the topic they want to address. Then, those callers are put into a queue and you can choose whom you are interested in speaking to in front of your audience.  There is even a live survey/polling feature that can provide you instant results, as your audience "votes" by pressing numbers of their keypad.  For example, "Do you like to have ice cream with your apple pie?  If yes, press #1.  If no, press #2."  You can report the results in a few seconds to your entire conference.  The survey feature can provide valuable data about your audiences' mindset.

Here at Monarch, our clients have the benefit of personal hands-on customer support including full training.  We look forward to serving you and promise that you'll have the benefit of the most robust technology, combined with superior customer service.

Give us a call at 888-387-8636 and let us help you expand your outreach and improve your communications program.  You can get more information here:  http://www.monarchbroadcast.com/town_hall_teleconference.html

 

Town Hall Teleconference Connects Thousands of Constituents

Providing town-hall teleconference service, also known as Tele-Town Hall, is one of our core services here at Monarch Broadcast, and we are committed to helping you set up your virtual meeting quickly and easily.  You can give us a call at 888-387-8636 and we'd be happy to answer any questions you may have about how it works.

You are also welcomed to visit our town hall teleconference page here for more details:  http://www.monarchbroadcast.com/town_hall_teleconference.html

Using the service is an ideal way to host a large scale conference that can engage the public, take instant surveys and give everyone an opportunity to provide input on major issues from the convenience of their homes or offices.

This technology is growing rapidly in popularity, particularly among elected officials on the state and county levels.  It has been used succesfully for years by federal representatives, both in the House and Senate.  Bur even more so, the service is being embraced and used by non-profit and political action organizations to keep in touch with their members and constituencies, and direct marketing companies that are interested in communicating with their distributors.

Quite simply, it's the most convenient and cost effective way to keep people in the loop.  You don't have to worry about finding or renting space at a physical facility.  You don't have to consider weather or traffic conditions, and you can launch your teleconference in less than 24 hours, with a mimimum of lead-time, to respond quickly to important issues that crop up.

With the outreach capabilities of town hall teleconferencing, you can deliver a direct and unfiltered message that people need to hear, without having it misinterpreted by third parties or the press.  That's why political, non-profit and corporate leaders are turning to this technology more and more.

What do you need to get started?

First, give us a call to set up an account.  We can email you the rate sheet so you can see what your cost will be ahead of time.  And then we'll work with you closely to help you organize your conference.

Conduting a teleconference begins by compiling a list of phone numbers of your contacts. This list can have as little as a few hundred numbers to over 100,000. Second, we'll give you hands-on training so you can see for yourself how our web interface works, and how you can control your town hall conference. Third, let us know when you want to start, and our robust telecommunications infrastructure will begin churning out the calls that will invite your contacts to participate in the conference. If a contact is interested in joining you, he or she can remain on the line and they will be instantly tied into the conference. If they aren't interested, they just hang up.

Generally speaking, most town hall conferences include a question and answer session that provides for an interactive exchange between you and your participants. Based on your preference, your particpants can either ask or comment directly, or you can screen your calls to keep everyone on topic. While the questions are being answered, all the participants can listen in. Participants can stay in the conference as long as they desire and hang up whenever they want.

Throughout the conference, the you can see in real time how many people are participating.

All in all, town hall mass teleconferences are coming on strong as officials adopt new ways to use advancing technology to keep in touch with geographically diverse voter bases. To be able to speak with thousands of members and constituents at the same time is a major advantage, not only for the official who wants to reach out to a large group over a short time, but for the voters as well who may have the best opportunity to hear and speak with their official in the comfort of their own home.

So if you are in charge of a networking group, an educational institution, or an association or union, you can use this technology for a wide variety of applications that are designed for improving political outreach, polling, marketing and sales communications, or any other reason you may need that requires a powerful, convenient way to connect.

Virtual Town Hall Meeting: Citizen and Voter Outreach Service

Conducting a virtual town hall meeting over the phone is probably one of the best ways to reach out to citizens, voters or organizational constituents.  It is highly effective, extremely convenient for everyone involved, and has much lower per person cost than hosting a physical event at a facility.  In fact, rather than scheduling a town hall meeting that may attract less than a few dozen people and which is very dependent on time and weather, a virtual town hall meeting -- or town hall teleconference -- can pull in thousands of citizens at once.

You can get more details about virtual town hall meetings by clicking on this link:

Here are just a few of the benefits you'll see when you integrate virtual town hall meetings into your outreach or marketing programs:

-- No hardware or software is necessary.  Everything is online and ready to go.
-- Quick set up. You can have your virtual town hall meeting tomorrow.
-- No limit to the number of people you can invite to your meeting.
-- Citizens have the option of joining or just hanging up.
-- Citizens don't have to fight the traffic or the weather to participate.
-- Optional question and answer sessions.
-- More control over topics and the discussion.  No ambushes from meeting hijackers.
-- Full report available after the conference.

Monarch Broadcast Messaging has been in business for years providing the highest level of customer service, along with unparalleled SaaS (software as a service) support.  Town Hall Teleconferencing is one of the core services that are provided to our hundreds of clients across the United States and Canada.  We're here, ready to assist you in taking advantage of the latest communications technology that will help you and your constituents interact with each other.  Bottom line:  They will get a clearer understanding of what you are doing for them, while you get an opportunity to hear what is on their minds first-hand.

Call us today and let us help you reach out.

Vancouver Sun Story Highlights Benefits of Town Hall Teleconferencing

Yes, it's always nice when a big newspaper calls and asks for comments about our many services.  Just last week one the big Canadian newspapers, the respected Vancouver Sun called and inquired about our Tele-Town Hall, or Town Hall Teleconference, services.  We were happy to help them out with their story and thrilled when we saw it in print.  (We say "thrilled" because many times you never see a story published.)

Meanwhile, check out the latest news from the respected Sun and see how elected officials and non-profits are using the Town Hall conferencing service to their advantage. You can see it here.  (The article references "OrangePoint" which was our former name before we changed it to Monarch Broadcast Messaging.)

Telephone Town Hall: Best Practices for Teleconferences

The Congressional Institute, which is dedicated to helping Members of Congress better serve the nation and to helping the public better understand public policy debates and the operations of the national legislature, has conducted an extensive survey and has compiled a number of "best practices" for those who use Town Hall Teleconference services.  Here is the list of their findings and suggestions to maximize the effectiveness of the call.


For more information on our Town Hall Phone Conferences click this link:  http://www.orangepoint.net/town_hall_teleconference.html


NOTE:  TTH stands for Tele-Town Hall


1) Limit the geography of outbound calls to particular cities or towns near one another, as opposed to taking a smattering from all over the district. When you spread the outbound calls far and wide, and then on the TTH announce where each caller is from, you undermine the intimacy that a TTH call offers. Geographic diversity within the district leads listeners to think there's a huge number of people on the call--an impression you don't want to leave if you don't have to. You want people to think you are calling only people who live near them, and that you're focused on that localized community's concerns.


2) Expand your selection criteria for phone numbers to call. Most of the people in our focus groups who had not participated in a tele-town hall would very much like to attend one.


3) Give constituents advance notice that the calls are taking place. The ideal amount of lead time is one week. You can leave a brief, automated voice message with the approximate time they can expect to receive a call on a given evening.


4) Limit calls to weekday evenings. Sixty-four percent of respondents in our survey who had participated in TTHs said that weekday evenings were preferable either to weekends or daytime during the week. The best time on a weekday night varies from person to person, but with older people you generally want to start a bit earlier (7:00 p.m. or so), and for parents with children you want to start later (8:30 or so, after young kids go to bed). Do not start a call any later than 8:30 p.m.


5) For those districts with pockets of "challenging constituents," be sure to conduct TTHs with those constituents, too. There is considerable goodwill built up by merely doing TTHs and showing that you're listening, even among those who oppose your point of view.


At the beginning of the call


6) During the automated message inviting people onto the call, indicate at what time the call will end. This will give people a sense of whether they want to make the time commitment, and know they're not signing on for hours of conversation.


7) Announce you plan to limit the scope of issues in the first half hour to three or four hot-button issues that you specify. This gives you more control over the agenda and ensures that issues that are on most constituents' minds are addressed in full. It also signals to listeners that people with narrow agendas won't dominate the call. But also be sure to announce that at an appointed time during the call (at 20 minutes past the hour, for example) you will welcome calls on any subject.


8) Take a few minutes at the beginning of the call, before taking questions, to talk about what you've been doing recently in Washington and what you're going to be working on in the next month.


During the call


9) Get callers with personal concerns off the call immediately by referring them to staff. Show all appropriate sensitivity, but tell the caller that they should call a specific person at the office the next day, and give that staffer's first name and phone number. Listeners get very impatient will calls that have no perceived bearing on their lives, or that go on too long.


10) Remind participants the call is live and not recorded. The easiest way to do this is to periodically say what time it is, or announce how much time is left for people to call in.


11) Conduct an instant survey with call participants (by instructing them to push the keypad on their phones) to get immediate feedback on pending issues before Congress. The more interactive you can make the call, the longer people are willing to listen. Remember: The top reason people say the TTHs enhance their view of their Congressman is that they show that someone in Washington is paying attention to their concerns. Building upon that sentiment is crucial to strengthening your TTH outreach.


12) Indicate that the calls are not screened. About half the people in our focus groups thought that the calls were screened. You build considerable goodwill by signaling that you do not screen your calls and you welcome all comers. Our most skeptical people said that merely saying you don't screen the calls is still not enough. The best way to get this point across: Use a bit of humor. Wait until a hostile caller gets on the phone, and when he or she is done with the question, say something like this: "Well, as you can probably tell, we obviously don't screen our calls..."


13) If you know a caller personally, don't make it sound like you're old buddies when he/she gets on the line. When that happens more than once on a call, it leads some listeners to conclude that the call is staged and not spontaneous. Keep in mind: Most of the folks on the call don't know you personally, and it sounds surprising to them that you might know multiple people who are randomly calling in. You might say something warm but innocuous to a familiar caller, such as: "I'm delighted to have you on the conference call tonight."


14) Use the TTH as an opportunity to drive people to your website. Most have not visited it, but they intuit there's useful information there. Also encourage them to sign up for your e-newsletter while on the home page. What you should absolutely not do is use the website as a crutch during the TTH; in other words, do not tell a caller that the answer to a question can be found on the website. Answer the question in full on the call, and then say that if they want even more detailed information, they can find it at your site. And be sure to give out the URL (website address).


15) Remind participants that they can put you on their speaker phone if they have one. We heard some people say it was annoying to have to hold a phone to their ear for an hour, so you can do them a favor if you gently remind people that they may have that speaker option on their phone. You can also turn it into a family event, where you can encourage parents to bring their kids in to listen in the same room.


16) Mention the fact that you're one of the first people in Congress to use this new technology, and that you've been leading others in Congress to adopt it as well. Constituents like to hear evidence that you're able to persuade other Member of Congress to do something; it shows you have some clout to get things done, even if not issue-specific.


17) Cite how previous TTHs have influenced your thinking on specific issues--even if they didn't necessarily change your overall position. We heard from some TTH participants that being on the call sounded "more like the Congressman was giving out information as opposed to answering questions." You want to convey that you are truly listening, and that you are empowering them merely by asking questions of you on a call.


At the end of the call


18) Remind callers they can push a particular key on their phone and leave a message at the end of the TTH, and a staff member will call back soon with an answer (and actually follow up). When offering this, it would be very useful to have your TTH provider dial an automated, immediate reply call to each person leaving a message, indicating that the constituent's message was indeed received, that you look forward to reviewing it, and that a live person from your office will be calling back within 48 or 72 hours. We heard concerns that people had left messages and were uncertain for days whether they were received.  ALSO: In a couple of instances people left messages and never received a follow-up from staff. This left a very bad impression in the minds of constituents.


19) Announce that you will be uploading the audio of the tele-town hall onto your website, so those who missed part of it can download it. (You can easily convert it into a podcast that's downloadable.)


Other recommendations


20) Aim to reach each household once per quarter. More often is too often; less often is not enough. At the end of each call, announce in what month you will be calling them again.


21) Limit each TTH to one hour, maximum.


22) When you dial phone numbers where no one is home, and leave a message indicating you were inviting them to a TTH, give them a way to learn about what you're doing in Congress. The best way is to send them to your website and let them download the audio of the TTH or possibly a transcript. Merely leaving a message saying that the constituent missed the TTH is not viewed as having any intrinsic value.


23) Do not invite guest experts to join you on the call. Constituents want to hear you and you only.


24) Do not indicate how many people are on the call. They assume there are far fewer than there actually, and you don't want to dilute the intensity of "touch" that comes with TTHs.


25) Take these calls seriously, and study how to get them right. At least half the people we spoke with who have participated in TTHs said the main way they determine whether they're satisfied with your job performance is based upon the TTHs.

Political Robo Calls Help Candidates Deliver Important Messages in Minutes

If you are searching for information on Political Robo Calls, please visit our Robo Call page.  You'll find what you're looking for there.  We are one of the nation's leading providers, and pride ourselves on superior customer service.

Meanwhile, here are some of our recent Monarch Broadcast press releases which we send to the world via the PRLog service.  The releases help provide information for those looking up specific services and keywords on the Internet.





If you are interested in any of these topics, please give us a call at 888-387-8636 and we'll fill you on the details.

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