Making Sure Your Volunteers are On Message

Once you reach a point in your campaign where you’ve got a team of volunteers out in the community helping you get elected, it’s important to keep those people working out of the same playbook. When someone’s walking door-to-door on your behalf, or representing you at an event, it’s important that the words coming out of their mouth are aligned with everything else you’re doing in your campaign.

That shouldn’t be a problem, right? If they’re wearing a t-shirt with your logo on it, surely, they know they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.

Well, unfortunately, people are people, and as people, they have their own opinions on things. Remember that it’s not an easy role, knocking on doors to interrupt people’s day or their dinners to ask them to vote for someone. The fact that it happens every year, and tens of thousands of people participate should not detract from the reality that it’s hard work. Voters can ask any questions they want at the door, and your volunteers have to be armed as best as possible to answer them.

Here are some tips for keeping people on point:

1. Ask lots of questions – There are lots of roles in a campaign where people can get involved, and just because someone shows up and wants to work doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right person to go door-to-door. Let the people who are good at door-to-door take on that piece of the campaign.

2. Provide information – Don’t send your volunteers into the world empty-handed. Make sure they not only have enough materials to leave at doors, but offer insights into the types of conversations they’re going to be having. What’s going on in the neighborhood they’re walking that is going to be on people’s minds? What have you personally been hearing from voters in your walking? What were the hot topics in your latest poll? Canvassers are going to blindsided by voters’ questions – it’s unavoidable – but there’s a lot you can communicate ahead of time to minimize that.

3. Be accessible – One of the best things a door-to-door canvasser can do for you is to get contact information for a follow-up. If the voter offers an opportunity to reconnect, it means your volunteer has successful engaged them. Now follow up. Remember that your volunteers generally have their own standing in the community, as well, and they want to be men and women of their word – so if they send you someone, close the loop expediently and make them look good!

Finally, the easiest way to keep your volunteers motivated is to recognize that their work is valuable to your campaign and cause. This comes through both your words and actions. Do what you can to let them know and they’ll be loyal soldiers.

And pizza helps.