DSC Tech Library
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to Predictive Dialers and Auto Dialer software and products.
The PACER and Wizard phone systems are PC based call center phone systems that are recognized as premier inbound and outbound computer telephony systems. Features such as automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR) and call recording have added a new dimension to the predictive dialer and auto dialer capabilities of these systems. These computer based dialing systems can perform various types of auto dialing campaigns simultaneously. These types include Predictive Dialing, Progressive Dialing, Preview Dialing and Dial on Demand.
Using telephones: does broadcast voice messaging work?
by Mary Norwood
When first-time candidate Julia Emmons was running for an Atlanta City Council At-Large seat, she used a cross between a radio spot and a telephone call to gain name recognition among her constituents. She won the election. When the City of Atlanta faced a tough referendum for a one percent local option sales tax, the city used the same communications tool to reach voters. The city's sales tax passed.
What voters were hearing and acting upon were brief, action-oriented recorded messages. Early in the campaign neighbors got calls from their friends inviting them to meet Ms. Emmons; during the get-out-the-vote effort, voters heard prominent community leaders support her. Called broadcast voice messaging, it delivers the message - and the vote - for pennies.
Broadcast voice messaging (BVM) delivers a personally recorded telephone message to hundreds or thousands of voters. Used correctly, it is the ultimate targeting tool. With broadcast voice messages, you are able to send exactly the right message to exactly the right people at exactly the right time by exactly the right person. You control:
There are two key elements to successful BVM: First, good technical equipment, and second, a good understanding of how to use it in your campaign. It gives you the power to get your message out quickly, reliably and inexpensively. BVM is a hybrid between a radio announcement and a live telephone call. It is a hand-delivered radio announcement with guaranteed reach, With traditional broadcast media, you must be sure your message can pass a universal litmus test. With BVM, you can reach and impact a particular demographic with a potent message that only they hear.
- 1) The content of the message
- 2) The delivery of the message
- 3) The quality of the message
BVM gives you the frequency to penetrate the voters' consciousness. As John Davies says, "People retain only 20 percent of the 20,000 messages they receive each week." BVM is the way for yours to be one of them. It is most effective when used in tandem with direct mail. It is not intended to replace phonebanking or your mailings. BVM gives you the frequency and repetition of impressions to penetrate your voters, particularly in down ballot races. It's the "ah-ha" factor: "I've heard that before."
There are four key factors to successful BVM
- 1) Who records your message: The most successful messages use endorsers/celebrities. People respond to celebrities, well-known personalities. In a campaign, a "celebrity" is the most highly recognized, influential, trusted leader of a community or affinity group. Your "celebrities" can't, or won't, make hundreds or thousands of phone calls for you, but they will record a single message from their telephone following a script you give them. You know the power of having celebrities write personal notes on postcards for GOTV. You can get them to do 50 or 100 now you can have that same personal touch go to hundreds of thousands of voters who know them simply by having them record one telephone message.
- 2) How you construct your message: Your message needs to "hook the listener." Broadcast voice messages are similar to radio commercials. You must grab the listener's attention in the first few seconds and hold it. Your message must pass the WIIFT test: What's In It For Them. Your call must be relevant to them. To be most effective: a) Identify yourself immediately and give the purpose of the call in the first few seconds; b) Engage them by inviting them or asking for their help; c) If using an endorser, give information on the candidate's value to them; d) Repetition is important. You want the candidate's name repeated at least twice or as many times as possible in the flow of script and e) You want to thank them at the end - thank them for their support and/or for listening.
- 3) The delivery of your message: a) High energy: Speak with enthusiasm; b) Simplicity: Word selection: easy to understand; c) Appeal: Give purpose of call in first few seconds; d) Brevity: 15-40 seconds; Candidates: 15-25 seconds; Endorsers: 30-40 seconds; e) Quality: Make sure the technical equipment you are using has excellent answering machine detection and good audio quality. Good BVM messages should sound like the person is actually on the telephone.
- 4) When you send your message: Daytime delivery is preferable, so that your message is delivered to a voter's answering machine or voice mail. Then they listen to it at their convenience. Nighttime delivery can be used for GOTV or when your candidate needs to respond immediately to a specific constituency.
- 1) Don't people hang up? Daytime delivery has shown 81 percent listen to the entire message.
- 2) Don't people get mad? Not many. Twenty complaints received out of 390,000 phone messages delivered.
- 3) When should BVM be used? Incumbents have used it in pre-qualifying toward off challengers. During campaigns, they have used it to reconnect with constituents, respond to attacks, provide new information and for GOTV. Challengers have used it with "celebrity" endorsers for early name recognition and in conjunction with events, to respond to attacks, provide new information and for GOTV.
- 4) What kinds of endorsers are effective? Community leaders, current or former elected officials, neighborhood leaders, CEO's of major corporations.
- 5) What elected officials have made broadcast voice message endorsements? U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen, Mayors, Governors, State Senators, State Representatives, County Commissioners, City Council members.
- 6) How large should a BVM callout be? It depends. If using an endorser, it should be targeted to a geographic area or an affinity group where they are well known and highly respected. You should be selective and target carefully. Five to 10 spokespersons each directed toward a targeted audience can be better than one large massive calling.
Questions to Ask When Considering Using BVM
- 1) Is my script (voice message) reviewed?
- 2) Does the company provide scripting assistance?
- 3) Do they check for correct audio level and make adjustments?
- 4) Is my message professionally edited for maximum effectiveness?
- 5) Do they give reports on listenership?
- 6) What kind of track record do they have?
- 7) How good is their answering machine detection?
- 8) If re-recording is necessary or additional information needs to be spliced in, can they do that?
- 9) Do they adhere to my request for the timing of the calls?
- 10) Will they handle the occasional complaint and remove the number from all future lists?
Success Stories and Examples
Bernard Cox and Jim Coonan of Constituency Information have used BVM with great success. They say, "Broadcast voice messaging works best with combined with other campaign tools. We use it in tandem with direct mail pieces and use endorsers or the host of an event to record the message. An endorser who is well-known and respected by their community gives tremendous credibility to our candidates."
Julia Emmons, Atlanta City Council at large won with BVM, using Cox and Coonan as her consultants. She says, "Anyone who doesn't connect with voters by phone should be prepared to lose." Julia Emmons used it in the summer of 1997 to establish name recognition. Cox and Coonan sent out mailers listing two events and then chased them with messages recorded by the hostesses. Voters received a call from the hostess nearest them the day after the mail drop. Projected attendance tripled.
For GOTV, Julia's campaign had a State Senator, a State Representative, two City Council persons, and neighborhood leaders each record a message targeted to their constituency. The result: a first-time candidate beat the incumbent. Here's one of the messages sent for Julia Emmons:
This is your State Representative Nan Grogan Orrock, calling to urge you to vote Tuesday for Julia Emmons in the Citywide race for Post 2, Atlanta City Council. A vote for Julia Emmons is a vote for higher ethical standards at our City Hall. Julia Emmons is also important to voters living in intown neighborhoods.
Julia Emmons is a 20-year resident of an intown neighborhood, just like us. And she understands our need for better police protection, more aggressive code enforcement, watchdogging property taxes, fostering healthy neighborhood development. This is State Representative Nan Grogan Orrock. I urge you once again, please vote for Julia Emmons, for City Council, Post 2, Citywide. Thank you.
Incumbents are using BVM to help ward off challengers and to solidify their base. Gale Walldorff, DeKalb County Commissioner in Georgia sent out a mailer to her district inviting voters to a series of events. She chased the mailer with her own 20-second message:
This is Gale Walldorff, your DeKalb County Commissioner. You'll soon get an invitation in the mail to join me at one of several of your neighbors' homes. I'd love to see you at one of these open houses so we can discuss DeKalb County and your concerns. Once again, this is your DeKalb County Commissioner, Gale Walldorff. Hope to see you at one of my neighborhood open houses. Thank you.
Incumbent Senator Vincent Fort is hosting a series of events, each with the host or hostess inviting their neighbors:
Hello, this is your neighbor Susan Abramson, and I'm calling to invite you to our home to meet our friend State Senator Vincent Fort. Vincent Fort is running for re-election to represent us once again and he wants to hear what you have to say. Vincent has been a Senator who has stayed in touch and here's your opportunity to help set priorities for next year's legislature. Please come to our home and speak with Senator Fort on Thursday, June 18, from 6 to 9 in the evening at 417 Amsterdam Avenue. I hope to see you then.
As Cox and Coonan say, "What makes BVM special is that you can target in an almost microscopic way. There aren't many ways that you can do that in a campaign.
Once campaigns use BVM, candidates and campaign managers are sold. It's hard to convince them beforehand, but afterwards, they're believers. They see the results.
Mary Norwood is president of One Call Systems Inc., a telephone messaging firm located in Atlanta, GA.