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5 Ways to Prepare for Blackout

Posted by Caitlin Blocker on June 07, 2018

Summer is here. You know what that means: camping, cookouts, and communications. For all of these things, you need to prepare. For camping, you need a flashlight, a tent, and supplies. What is a cookout without cheeseburgers and hot dogs? Now that it’s summer and Congress is creeping out of blackout, how do you set yourself up for communications success to prepare for the next blackout?

That’s where Fireside21 can help! These strategies will assist in building your subscriber list, learning the legislative interests of your constituents, and developing a digital presence. With tools that already exist in your Fireside account, it is easy to target people with whom you don’t normally engage, and gather helpful insights about them so you can keep in touch during blackout!


1. Live-Stream Events

When more than 60 percent of your constituents find information on their smartphones and tablets, you want to communicate effectively with everyone, no matter where they are or what device they are using.

Fireside21 provides our clients with multi-channel constituent engagement, from calling cell phones to streaming audio/video on the Member’s website. While many of us do not have landlines (guilty as charged), the best places to find us are our cell phones or social media pages. Fireside creates a streaming web page to share on your social media so you can connect with your constituents wherever they are. Better yet, we make it possible to promote the event both before and during the event. This will notify people to join the call through social media or your web stream, allowing constituents to engage through the medium of their choosing.

We don’t stop there. After the event, we capture the data from the call and automatically send it back to your Fireside account. It makes sending follow-ups to your constituents simple.

To learn more, click here.


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 in your Fireside account? If you’ve answered yes, you’ve probably used our survey tool to track them down. But what if you cannot identify people who care about defense or like ice cream? We recommend sending a franked survey to your entire email list. Our survey tool allows you to ask your constituents any franking-approved questions. Then, Fireside automatically tags the constituent responses to their profile. You can use this newly acquired information to build 499 audiences for mailers once you creep back into that blackout period!

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

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


3. Tagging, Tagging, and Tagging

Your constituents often tell you their stories and why they care about an issue when they call or write to you. Take advantage. Every letter, every call, every drop-in, is an opportunity to mark, in your Fireside account, who they are and what they care about. Many of us have heard “This is Dr. Smith, and I care about my local ice cream shop making chocolate ice cream. I think H.R. 1234 prevents that.” We’ve learned this constituent 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 your district and what issues are important to them.

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


4. 499 Outreach


Since blackout prevents you 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. Many of our offices run into the issue of not knowing whom to contact. This is where a strategy comes into play. If you follow the three previous points 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. Client Satisfaction Surveys

Not only can you create a strategy for 499s on legislative issues for blackout, but you can also check on your constituents who have asked for help or other services. Fireside can create an audience of the people you have helped with casework, tour or flag requests, or other services that your office provides. Many of our clients have found great success sending out a satisfaction survey to see if the constituents enjoyed their experiences with the office. It’s another way to add a personal touch to your outreach plan and continue to communicate with those whom you may not contact as often.

If you take these five steps, engagement with your constituents will be no sweat as you roll into the fall. You will be prepared for outreach during a time when congressional staffers thought it was not possible. Remember, Fireside is here to help! If you’re interested in learning more, do not hesitate to contact the Fireside team

Contact Us

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409 7th Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: (202) 621.5121
Fax: (202) 621.5122