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5 Ways to Prepare for Blackout

by Nick Consler, on February 07, 2022

Before we know it, blackout will be here. How can you set yourself up for communications success when blackout season arrives?

These strategies will assist in building a subscriber list, learning the legislative interests of constituents, and developing a digital presence. With CRM tools, it’s easy to target less-engaged constituents and gather helpful insights to keep in touch during blackout!


1. Live-Stream Events

More than 60 percent of constituents find information on their smartphones and tablets, and it’s important to communicate effectively with everyone, no matter where they are or what device they’re using.

Multi-channel constituent engagement ensures all constituents can engage with an office, no matter if they’re calling in from their cellphone or streaming audio/video on your website. Since many have left landlines in the past, finding constituents through mobile phones or social media pages is a great option. 

With live-streamed events, offices can share links on social media to connect with constituents wherever they are. Better yet, promote the event both before and during so people can join and engage through the medium of their choosing.

After the event, it’s best to use data captured from the call and automatically send it back to your CRM, so sending follow-ups to constituents is simple.

Engage Your Constituents with Fireside Live

With Fireside Live events you can dial constituents' mobile and home phones and stream the conversation online as you answer their moderated questions.

Learn more about Fireside Live

Live-streamed event

2. Franked Surveys in Newsletters

“It’s difficult to imagine the power that you’re going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.”
– Tim Berners-Lee, father of the World Wide Web

Right now, could you find people from ages 18 to 35 who care about defense issues and love ice cream? If you’ve answered yes, you’ve probably used a survey tool to track them down. But what if you can’t identify people who care about defense or like ice cream? 

Sending a franked survey to your entire email list allows you to ask your constituents any franking-approved questions. Then, your CRM can automatically tag the constituent responses to their profile. You can now use this newly acquired information to build 499 audiences for mailers once the blackout period starts up.

Another great thing that comes from sending surveys is subscribers. A survey can be configured to automatically add your constituents to your opt-in list while simultaneously collecting valuable constituent data.

Build Engaging Surveys with Fireside

You need powerful tools to proactively build and foster meaningful relationships. We believe every aspect of your office makes a difference in how you communicate with your constituency. It's about more than informing the people in your district; it's about helping them feel represented. 

First time making a survey? We can help with that.


3. Tagging, Tagging, and Tagging

Constituents tell offices their stories and why they care about an issue when they call or write — this is a huge opportunity. Every letter, every call, every drop-in, is an opportunity to mark who they are and what they care about. 

Lots of staffers have heard “This is Dr. Smith, and I care about my local ice cream shop making chocolate ice cream. I think XYZ bill prevents that.” This constituent clearly is a doctor, cares about the local small business, and loves chocolate ice cream. Tagging this information not only enables you to send powerful 499s, but it helps paint a picture of the constituents in the district and what issues are important to them.

Organize Your Constituents into an Actionable Database with Fireside

Affiliations are used to tag constituents with information that can be used to create audiences. It is a good practice to tag constituents with affiliations so that you can have a good base for sending proactive mailings in the future. 

Not sure how to tag? We’ve got you covered.

4. 499 Programs

Since blackout prevents offices from sending mass communication, why not send what you can? With a robust 499 program, you can reach large parts of your constituency simply by using the audience tool and bulk-mail builder. 

But knowing who to contact requires a strategy. If you follow the three previous tips — events, surveys, and tagging — it will be a breeze to connect with those who are both engaged and not active in your district.

Need more guidance? Schedule some time with our Success Coaches.


5. Constituent Satisfaction Surveys

499 strategies on legislative issues for blackout are important, but checking on constituents who’ve asked for help or other services matters as well. By creating an audience of the people you’ve helped with casework, tour or flag requests, or other services your office provides, you can send out a satisfaction survey to see if the constituents enjoyed their interaction with your office. It’s another way to add a personal touch to an outreach plan and continue to communicate with those who might not engage as often.

With these five steps, engagement with your constituents will be no sweat as you roll into blackout. You’ll be prepared for outreach during a time when it seems impossible to congressional staffers. Remember, Fireside is here to help! If you’re interested in learning more, don't hesitate to contact the Fireside team

Topics:NewsletterFrankingBlackout