As tech advances in politics come into the mainstream, there are more and more debates about what works and what doesn't. At GIA, we believe that despite what some campaigns see as 'push back' on robocalls, robocalls are a part of the campaign repertoire when used properly and in the context of a good overall campaign plan.
We have seen this work to devastating effects in terms of positive campaigning to boost a candidates name ID and/or promotion of an issue. We have also seen these used to devastating effect in a negative context going back to elections as early as 2009.
In 2017 in Queensland, we saw robocalls from movements such as Cherish Life, people get their first ever robocall from Pauline Hanson and their first ever robocall from Bob Katter. After this, we have gone through our original 'robocall' rules concept and updated them with what we have learned.
Therefore, here are our GIA top 10 tips for robocalls:
1. Verify legality. Check to make sure the area(s) you will be targeting allow automated calls. Find out about any rules and regulations you’ll need to follow. This means making sure that the calls are authorised.
2. Inspire and inform. Be inspiring and fact-based in your message.
3. Be concise. Keep messages relatively brief — between 30 and 45 seconds is ideal.
4. Thank your constituents. Be upbeat, positive and express gratitude for voter support in your message.
5. Call early in the cycle. Dont wait until the final run in to start robocalling. Call through out the cycle in order to maximise impact. (The exception to this would be if you need to respond to recent direct attacks or must address an issue immediately.
6. Call selectively. Use focused, deliberate and selective calling — do not bombard constituents with multiple similar messages in a short period of time. For parties planning the seats to robocall into, be judicious as to which seats get which format of robocall (leader, candidate, outside notable or combination).
7. Call during weekdays. Send robocall messages during the day. Strive to leave the messages on voicemail; about 70% residents are not home during the day, and you’ll be able to deliver your complete message. You’ll avoid interrupting the voter and they can listen to your message at their convenience. Furthermore, we need to remember that ACMA and the Do Not Call Register has specific times that calls are allowed in.
8. Real phone numbers. Use a real phone number associated with your campaign for your calls; caller ID numbers that look false will likely not be taken seriously. Remember that if the candidates phone number is going to be used, don't answer the phone back during the calls being run - those calls will be the 'kick back' mentioned above. Use virtual numbers to house robocalls where possible. It also means that the 'kick back' can be more easily screened and any supportive responses can be more easily followed up by the candidate.
9. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute; plan and strategize your call scripts carefully. The ideal planning cycle for a robo call is about a week to 10 days, so set aside at least that amount of time for each message. Planning also means that you can decide whether or not to use the voice of the candidate, the voice of the leader of the party or the voice of an 'outside notable'
10. Pace yourself. When you start your calls, use a pace that is steady and also compliant with the local capacity for the area.