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Ballot Issues: Setting Your Campaign Up for Success

Ballot Issues: Setting Your Campaign Up for Success

Across the nation, we are seeing legislative changes being made to ballot initiatives and the ballot access process, creating a higher threshold of support for measures to pass or remain in effect. Already in 2022, three states are adding these kinds of stipulations. The ability for citizens to put an issue on the ballot is an important act of direct democracy, and strategists will need to be proactive in their planning and execution of campaigns to successfully gain ballot access.

An already complex process, you must first determine which ballot initiative types are allowed in your state and which type will be the best path to accomplishing your goals. Among the most common are referendums, voter-initiated statutes, legislatively referred statutes, and constitutional amendments. Topics can range anywhere from local tax levies, new city development, to statewide issues such as cannabis legalization.

Historically, there have been 736 initiatives on the ballot across the U.S. since 2000. Of those 736, only 45% have successfully passed.

As ballot access becomes more restricted, it’s important to understand the options as you consider what type of battle you might be facing. To start, here are a few items to consider:

  • Initial Planning: What is the electoral environment? Who are your advocates, and who are your enemies? How will you develop your win strategy, and then how will you target the right people with your message?
  • Building Your Campaign: How should you communicate with your audience? Who can help you and how? What does your timeline look like?
  • Utilizing Best Practices: Do you have a written campaign plan? Do you have a clear message and defined audience? How are you maintaining accountability?

At JVA, we’ve had experience with all types of ballot-issue battles. Over the coming weeks, we’ll dive into each of these considerations and explore what it takes to be part of the 45% of winning ballot-issue campaigns.

Benefits of a Grassroots-Oriented Labor-Management Program

Benefits of a Grassroots-Oriented Labor-Management Program

It’s a tale as old as time: employers versus their workers.

For generations, labor and management have gone head-to-head, each fighting for their piece. As we continue to advance into the modern age, industry leaders have begun to question: How can we meet our bottom line, advance our legislative goals, and still treat our workers with dignity? Turns out, it’s not as difficult as the history books have made it out to be. 

It’s an out-of-date notion to think that workers don’t support the industry they work for. More often than not, workers’ beliefs and goals are in line with the industry’s, so long as progress isn’t at the expense of their livelihood. Once industry leaders are able to identify what’s important to their workers and where those issues intersect with industry goals, that’s where true progress can take place.

Labor and management are in this battle together, yet individual member companies and trade unions alike must be careful: appear too generous to the other side, and employees or shareholders will be calling for your head. A grassroots-oriented approach can foster a greater relationship and collaboration with workers in the industry—without alienating key stakeholders.

Benefits of a Grassroots-Oriented Labor-Management Program

  1. Policymakers hear from a balanced yet nonpartisan coalition of “real people”—not lobbyists.
  2. Everyday stakeholders (company employees, family members, workers in supply-chain companies, etc.) have a place to join and stay informed on the issues.
  3. Management gains from the development of a national shared activist pool dedicated solely to advancing shared policy objectives.

A renewed Labor-Management program will have its best chance for survival if it is spearheaded by an entity skilled in modern methods and trusted by all sides. JVA Campaigns, a national public affairs firm with deep roots in the American labor movement and broad reach across over a dozen industries, is well positioned to help.

Understanding Your Audience: The difference between Conservatives and Liberals

Understanding Your Audience: The difference between Conservatives and Liberals

Understanding how voters think and receive messages is the first step to winning moderate and conservative-minded voters. To win the vote, you need to meet the voter at their value system.

Conservative Mindset – Strict Father Figure Model

  • Moral hierarchyIn-group nurturance
  • Personal responsibility
  • Activated by fear
  • Embrace loyalty/authority

Progressive Mindset – Nurturing Parent Model

  • Nurturance
  • Government protection
  • Fairness/Equality
  • Empathy

Moderate Working-Class Voters

  • Pride in culture, background, and community
  • Respect for tradition
  • Belief in personal responsibility, character, and hard work
  • Respect for law and law enforcement
  • Love of freedom
  • May dislike forced interference [gov’t, media, social media]
  • May feel superior
  • Often resentful toward elites
  • Often begrudge political correctness

How We Win Moderate/Conservative Voters

  • Values matter more than issues
  • Focus on loyalty, community, and freedom
  • Create empathy locally – avoid nationalizing your race at all costs
  • Don’t attack views/opinions – listen and relate
  • Frame issues using metaphors, images, and emotion
  • Be present – at events, through handwritten letters, social media, etc.
Best Practices: Email Marketing

Best Practices: Email Marketing

Test everything, segment your audience, tell a story, and follow best practices.

The average person sees 90-100 emails per day—that’s why it’s imperative to cultivate an engaging, strategic email marketing plan. A good email’s key elements include an interesting subject line, a creative opener, the most important information “above the fold,” graphics or links, and a clear call to action. Remember, once an email is sent, there is no way to edit or recall it, so emails are extremely important to get right the first time.

ESSENTIAL RULES

Makes sure you follow these essential rules:

  1. Have a clear call to action, making only one specific ask.
  2. Don’t confuse your audience with multiple messages—only have one. Aim to write two to four medium sized paragraphs, focusing on one message.
  3. Keep it relevant. You know what your audience will be interested in based on how you captured their email addresses in the first place—stick to relevant messaging.
  4. Talk about them, not about you.
  5. Mobile opens account for almost 50% of all email opens, so all emails should be optimized for mobile.

Be sure to stick with one message at a time to get the most engagement out of your send. Most emails will fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Welcome emails help establish a connection between your brand and your new subscriber—don’t miss this opportunity to introduce yourself!
  2. Survey emails
  3. Newsletters
  4. Petitions
  5. Fundraising emails are successful when used in rapid-response topical situations. Adding buttons for predefined donation amounts helps users pick an amount. Be careful not to overuse fundraising emails—they should be used as part of a greater strategy.
  6. Announcements
GROWING A LIST

Cultivate and Engage

Growing your list is possible through targeted Facebook ads to a relevant audience with a clear call to action. Once you’ve collected names through a Facebook campaign, you’ll want to develop and engage your list with relevant content.

TESTING

Test Everything

Your unique audience will react differently to content than any other audience. That’s why we stress the importance of testing all aspects of an email campaign.

What Should I Test?

Structure your email campaign and design your creative to test the following email components:

  • Subject lines
  • Content
  • Layout
  • Call to action
  • Day of the week
  • Sender
WHEN YOU SEND MATTERS

Emails sent during specific hours on certain days typically perform better. In general, we recommend sending emails at 8a.m., 12p.m., 2p.m. or 7p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Monday, or Friday, in that order. But this will vary with each audience you’re emailing.

A Four-Step Framework for a Successful Digital Advocacy Campaign

A Four-Step Framework for a Successful Digital Advocacy Campaign

“Digital advocacy” is a broad phrase that can cover a whole range of tactics and campaign types. It’s an essential part of any organization’s larger advocacy plan—but only when used the right way.

We have found that professionals in the advocacy space often treat digital as an impromptu solution for problems as they arise. The word “digital” itself implies that something is fast and accessible—a post here, an email there, an ad when you need it. But random tactics pooled together don’t make a campaign.

It also may be tempting to try to use every digital tactic available in the hope that one of them sticks. Throwing all of your efforts into every available digital medium is unlikely to provide real value for your organization. It’s like trying to hit a bullseye on a dartboard by throwing ten darts at once.

When it comes to digital advocacy, if you try to do everything, you’ll do nothing. That’s why a successful digital campaign is purposeful, measurable, and targeted to your organization’s larger goals. A successful digital campaign is unique to your organization’s needs, which are defined clearly from the start. 

We’ve won enough battles to know what works. Here’s our four-step framework for success:

  1. Set Your Objective
  2. Define Tactics that Work
  3. Pick Two to Three Metrics for Success
  4. Optimize Your Campaign
Define Your Objective

Are you looking for broad awareness? To develop a coalition? To jump-start grassroots advocacy? To increase your online following? You can’t do them all at once, but you can do one of them with precision.

If you want to accomplish more than one objective, that means you’re running more than one digital advocacy campaign. Don’t refer to “digital” as a whole. Rather, refer to your campaigns by their objectives.  Follow the framework with each individual campaign separately. Remember, each objective deserves dedicated time, resources, and attention. We encourage you to start with the most important one first and build from there.

Define Tactics That Work

It’ll come as no surprise that not all digital tactics serve the same purpose. Once you have your objective, it’s time to pick the tactics that will help you accomplish that objective and forget about the ones that won’t. We’ve put together this chart for a quick reference on some of the digital tactics available. This isn’t everything, but it’s definitely a great start.

Example Objectives Objective Type Tactics That Work
  • Increase the popularity of your brand
  • Get people talking about an issue on social media
  • Increase name recognition for a candidate
Awareness
  • Static ads or short-form video (less than 15 seconds)
  • Partnerships with existing digital entities
  • A regularly scheduled social media calendar
  • Search engine ads
  • Email newsletters
  • Change a specific audience’s mind on an issue or candidate
Persuasion
  • “Out-the-box” storytelling and messaging concepts
  • Explainer videos or animations (long-form organic content and short-form ads)
  • Well-designed and easily-navigable website
  • Develop a coalition of people that are willing to take action for a cause
  • Collect a list of users that want to receive regular updates on an issue
Acquisition
  • Audience testing to find your ideal user
  • Well-targeted paid media
  • Giveaways and competitions
  • Consistent content marketing and engagement
  • Customer Relationship Management to segment and tag contacts
  • Mobilize advocates to contact their legislators
  • Mobilize advocates to post about an issue on social media
Mobilization
  • Concise calls to action in social posts and email
  • Targeted ad campaigns to your existing users
Pick Two to Three Metrics for Success

Metrics are the numerical values associated with the analysis of your tactics. Each tactic has its own handful of unique metrics. Video ads, for example, could give you the following metrics: video views, completed video views, clicks, impressions, reach, and frequency.

It’s easy to get caught up in the data that’s available. That’s why it’s crucial to pick two or three metrics for success, MAX for your whole campaign. Choose the metrics that are most likely to convey success toward your campaign objective. These metrics will become your bread and butter. Pour everything into them and nowhere else. Aim for the target.

For example, if your campaign objective is awareness, then you really don’t care about clicks. You probably care about reach, impressions, or the frequency with which users are seeing your ads. If your campaign objective is persuasion, you probably want to make sure that people are watching your video ads all the way through, so you’ll choose “completed video views” as a metric for success.

Avoid “glamour” metrics, such as shares and retweets. These metrics are great to keep an eye on, but they’re not always an indicator that you’re accomplishing your campaign objective with your intended audience.

Optimize Your Campaign

The last step is twofold. First, decide how often you plan to check in on your metrics and stick to the plan. Second, USE YOUR METRICS. Don’t put your metrics in a presentation, sit back, and expect great results. Every time you check in on your metrics, take time to figure out what they are telling you.

There are a number of key areas you can optimize regularly.

Audience

Are your ads targeted toward the users most likely to contribute to your objective? Is there one audience that’s working more than the others? Have you tried all available audiences? Is there a demographic you haven’t considered?

Creative

Is your copy and messaging convincing or attention-getting? Is one message more effective than another? Can we build additional creative that aligns with the most effective messaging?

Tactics

Is each tactic contributing toward the campaign objective? Are some tactics working better than others? Are there any tactics we haven’t tried that might work?

Turning Supporters into Advocates

Turning Supporters into Advocates

Do you want to create a group of advocates for your cause?

Creating a group of engaged, dedicated advocates can help amplify your message, build a broader base of supporters, and get more people to take action when you need them to the most. This article covers the five most important steps that you can take to grow your number of advocates.

1. Make a Clear Plan

The first step in creating a plan is understanding your audience. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Who supports your cause now? Why do they support it?
  2. Who could support your cause in the future? What would make them show their support?

It could be that you want to pass legislation to enhance STEM education, and your supporters are parents with young children. But you could also get support from people with an interest in STEM, whether they’re parents or not.  If you want to increase support for your cause, adapt your message for different audiences.

2. Choose Your Channels

Once you know your audience, make sure you’re using the right digital channels to reach those people. Understand how the right channel can help create advocates for you.

For example, if your audience is older, you may want to use Facebook. People can easily share your social posts, so make sure the content you post is designed to be shared. If your audience is on Twitter, make the content a conversation and designed to be retweeted. If you need people to contact their representatives, get them to sign up to receive “legislative alerts” so they know when to take action.

When you ask people to help you with your cause,  give them a clear idea of what you want them to do and why they should do it. It may seem obvious, but direct calls to action are much more likely to convert people to advocates than vague messaging.

3. Set Measurable Goals

Now that you know your audience and have selected your channels, make sure you have specific, realistic, achievable goals. If you have a very small number of advocates now, do you want a hundred people who take action? A thousand? If you know a legislator isn’t likely to notice eight or nine emails from constituents, then how many people would they notice? Make sure you’re setting reasonable expectations; not all your supporters will take the next step to advocacy, and you should plan for that. A small group of dedicated advocates is more impactful than a large group of half-engaged supporters.

Set your goals and work toward them.

4. Create Content that Engages

Now you have a clear plan to measure the success of your campaign, make sure that your content is as engaging as possible with each audience.

For example, say your cause is increasing investment in technology, and your audience cares about job creation for rural communities. Ads, emails, and social posts that talk about futuristic technology won’t get much engagement. Instead, frame your message around your audience’s interests. In this instance, you could write about how new technologies keep jobs local and grow the local economy.

It’s also important to ensure that the action you want people to take makes sense for the message you’re using. If you want to raise awareness about your organization, make your actions about your advocates, not yourself. For example, “We are an organization that helps create local jobs” isn’t shareable content, but “Share this post if you support creating local jobs” is. If you need people to take action and contact their representatives, the message should feel urgent and relevant to people’s lives. “Contact your senator to support local jobs” is less engaging than “Local jobs are at risk! Tell your senator to protect our community.” The most important rule is to write copy that your audience will find genuinely interesting and engaging.

5. Reward Your Advocates

Creating advocates should not be a one-way conversation. Communication has to be a two-way street if you want to maintain people’s interest. If people take action on your campaigns, make sure they’re rewarded. For example, if they comment on your tweet, make sure you like it. If they contact their representative, make sure they know what impact they had on the legislation. It’s your mutual victory (or well-fought defeat), not just your organization’s.

Also make sure that your advocates feel like insiders and understand that you value the work they do for you. This could be getting early access to information, or special mentions in social posts for particularly dedicated advocates.

In Conclusion

You now have the basics for creating digital advocates. But don’t forget: building a truly engaged audience doesn’t happen overnight and won’t maintain itself over time. Be patient and make sure you’re always creating relevant content for your advocates to engage with, even when there isn’t much you need them to do. If you don’t, people will lose interest, and you’ll have to start your audience building all over again.