We are Lison Laissus and Oliver Wells, NationBuilder Account Managers based in the London office. Having worked with many political parties and campaigns, we want to share what we’ve learned for people new to the process. This series is a step-by-step journey of a fictional candidate running for office, informed by our shared experience.
It’s now 120 days from polling day. While my campaign has been running for some time (and it feels like decades!), it's important that I have an official campaign launch as this will help me gain visibility, bring in more supporters, and get some momentum going for my volunteers ahead of the next phase.
I’m going to launch my campaign with a large event but want to make it accessible to those who may not be able to make it in person, so I’m adding an interactive dimension by live streaming it. Most importantly, the event will be an opportunity to prepare my supporters for the hard work ahead with a clear follow-up call to action.
Building my event page
First, I need to get my infrastructure in place. This is going to be the first of many events over the coming months so I want to start by creating a calendar page to house all my events in a place where they can be searched. I’ll create my event page within the calendar page and update the relevant information (time, venue, event contact, etc), I’m also going to use my ‘intro’ to give an explanation of who I am and include a link to my campaign video using embed.ly.
My finance manager Louise has persuaded me that this is a good opportunity for fundraising. I’m worried that the expectation of large contributions might dissuade people from coming, so we’ve come to a compromise and agreed to sell tickets for the event at a small cost. We’ve decided on the following categories:
- Standard tickets, £5 (we believe such a small amount won’t dissuade any attendees and will actually be helpful for working out numbers more precisely, I.e. people are less likely to flake)
- Premium tickets, £20 (these people will have the best seats and will also have the opportunity to network with me and other guests after the event)
In ‘event settings > basics’ I’ll click ‘sell tickets’ to set up the different ticketing options and then create a donations page that users can get redirected to to pay for their tickets––this will be an especially customised page for this ticketed event.
Finally I’m going to make sure all people who RSVP are attributed the tag ‘RSVP: Launch Event 2020’ and are added to the path ‘Launch Event Recruitment’ and the step ‘RSVPed for event’ all via my ‘event settings > advanced’ tab.
Building my virtual event page and a page for the live stream
Realistically, not everyone will be able to make the event; so I’ve decided to set up a live stream so that more people can take part. I’m going to set up a simplified event by cloning the original to make a landing page for the virtual event. This time I’m attributing the tag ‘RSVP: VIRTUAL: Launch Event 2020’ to this group, have them added to the path ‘Launch Event Recruitment’, and the step ‘RSVPed for VIRTUAL event.’ I’ll also set it up so the next page it lands on is the ‘donate’ page to encourage supporters to take this action whilst they’re on the website.
Now to create a page for the live stream, I simply set up a basic page, add the relevant text and image content I want on the page, and use embed.ly to embed the live video I’m going to stream. I’m going to use Vimeo for my steam and all I need to do is include the URL to the video. I’ll then send that out to virtual event attendees before the event.
Inviting my supporters
As with my finances in my previous post, I want to make sure my invitation emails are segmented and appropriately targeted to optimise engagement. Thus, I'm going to break up my invitations into the following categories to ensure each supporter feels valued. I want to make sure I use the event not just for publicity, but also for getting supporters to volunteer to take on more responsibility, so it’s important that I touch upon this in my language.
To make these segments I need to first tag all relevant priority supporters with the tag ‘Priority Supporters.’ Then I’ll need to identify anyone who is local to the event. I have two options for this: I could filter based on their city, constituency or region or use the turf cut tool by going into map view and add all in the turf to a specific list.
I can then use filters to build out my various segments and send out the email blasts based on the saved filters, directing people to the relevant links. As before, I’m going to use smart fields to make the email more personal and email buttons to make the call to action stand out.
Making the event interactive
Now that the invitations have gone out, I’m going to prepare what I think will be one of the most exciting moments of my launch event. I’m going to offer the opportunity for my supporters to collectively choose which slogan I should adopt for my campaign––live during the event! I think this will be a great way to help increase their commitment by demonstrating that they have some ownership of the campaign. We can also tell supporters about this when following up to encourage them to sign up for the event.
To do so, I will create a survey page. It’s an easy 2-step process.
> Step 1, in the people section of my control panel, I click on More > Surveys and then select New Survey. I pick a clear name, ‘Campaign Slogan - Launch Event’ and I am then prompted to create my first question. To make it easy, I’m going to stick to one.
I enter a slug for my survey (1), then the full question (2) ‘What should be the slogan of my campaign?’, select the format (3) - in my case, a ‘Multiple choice’ - and make sure to tag (4) any responder with the tag ‘survey_slogan’ for future easy follow-up.
Then I enter the options, which are the 3 different slogans my communications team and I have pre-selected: ‘Yes we will’, ‘It's time for change’, ‘Choose Hope.’
> Step 2, in the website section of my control panel, I create a new page and select the Survey type. I will make sure to create a slug that is really short, because I will ask people to vote on their phone during the event.
In the ‘Survey settings’ tab of my page, I can now select the survey I created before. I’ll also set it up so people will land on my donation page after responding.
During the event, I will prompt attendees, both virtually and in person, to answer the survey and let me know their preferences. Near the end of the event, my team will communicate the results and we’ll announce the new slogan during the closing. I’m sure it will energise the crowd!
Maximising event visibility
Finally, I’m going to create a press release master page on my website. I simply select the ‘press release’ page type and add it to my top navigation. I fill out the details and include a Call-to-Action ‘Subscribe to my Newsletter’ in my copy as I don’t want to miss any opportunity to encourage people to follow my campaign. I schedule it and it’s now ready to go live right after my event.
I’ve also updated the social media and SEO section of that page to generate a maximum visibility and encourage shares with a compelling, ready-to-go message. I will also schedule a tweet and a Facebook post that includes a link toward my press release.
Moving people to action after the event
At the event itself, it’s so important that I track who actually turns up, both in-person and virtually. Again, this is because I need to make sure I personalise the messages as much as possible and correctly acknowledge people’s participation. Fortunately NationBuilder has some simple functionality to do this in the control panel and record who has attended from the RSVP list. This allows me to segment my follow up emails and send different emails to those who attended the in-person event, joined the virtual event, or RSVPed but didn’t attend either event.
For all of these emails, I want to make sure I have a really specific call to action and ride the wave of enthusiasm from the event itself. I’m going to set up a new volunteer page, similar to the one I set up before, but this time I’m going to ask people to offer to host events during our multi-event action day that’s coming up.
That’s it – I’m ready for the big day! Stay tuned to discover how it went in my next post.
For more on how NationBuilder can help emerging candidates and parties, learn how Emmanuel Macron’s party En Marche used it to get 359 candidates elected in 2017.