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7. Outreach - meeting people, going to events, courting organizations; maximum events, target message, start early

I. Canvassing

Door-to-door campaigning is one very important grassroots element of this work. People will remember conversations with you years later.

Figure out how much you can do. Will you do blanket canvassing or targeted? Do you do it alone or with a group, or a mix? Have a map; mark off completed areas.

How do you determine what doors to knock on? Getting voter registration lists with voter history allows you to knock on the doors of people who are highly likely to vote ("chronic" voters) and interaction at their door step may persuade them to vote for you. Blanket door knocking in some areas allows you to register people to vote who may be natural allies. Your campaign goals and plan will guide you as to which strategy to use when and where.

Have a goal of a certain number of doors a day or week or amount of time doing this per week. Although it's difficult at first, it's very much worth it.

Start with friendly precincts or wards. Sprinkle good areas in between harder ones. Don't let yourself get discouraged! Meeting people face to face and listening to them can be energizing!

Have something small to leave at the door that includes your name, issues, and contact information. If no one is home, you can handwrite something like, "Sorry I missed you," and sign it. You can leave it in their door or under the mat in a visible way. Remember that mailboxes are for mail only.

As you talk to people, take notes. The content of your conversations may lead you to a policy decision.

Develop a list of people with addresses and phone numbers who are definitely supportive or leaning your way. These will be your targeted voters to be brought out to the polls on Election Day. If someone is very enthusiastic, ask him or her if they would like to get involved as a volunteer for the campaign.

Follow-up your door-to-door work with a postcard thanking the household for the time you spent with them.

Voter registration may be the reason you are going door to door, but once you've made contact you can go on and talk about your issues and your campaign with those already registered.

You can generate some attention for your canvassing efforts by putting out a press release letting people know what part of town to expect your campaign on a particular week.

Before a coffee or reception in a neighborhood, go door to door inviting neighbors to the event.

Remember that people may be uncomfortable answering their door to a stranger after dark, so start well before then. In warm times and areas, protection from the heat and insects is a must. Carry your own water.


You can't get in office if your supporters don't vote, and they can't vote if they aren't registered!!

II. Phone

Telephone outreach is also important! If you're the candidate, think about getting an operator head set for hands-free phoning. It's easier on the neck and lets you pace, do the dishes, or takes notes pain-free! Create goals about the amount of time spent at this per week, or the number of contacts.

Other people from the campaign should also be doing telephone outreach, finding definite, likely and potential voters for you in the process. Be sure to keep good records! Use scripts (in a conversational tone) to ensure a consistent message. This also allows you to better interpret the results of voter's response, as the information was gotten in a consistent manner.

Phone banking should begin in earnest two weeks before voting is available. Mobilize the definite or likely voters your campaign has identified to be sure they come out to vote. Use a script. This is helpful to volunteers and your campaign will be giving a consistent message. You will need to decide if your phone call is a soft one ("just calling to remind you to vote by 9pm at ___") or a harder persuasion call (Helen belongs to Earth First!, too and will bring issues of sane land stewardship to city hall).

With the advent of early voting, you made need multiple waves of GOTV calling. This could be targeted geographically. For example, if early voting is happening at the local grocery store on a particular weekend, make GOTV calls or do a lit drop in the precincts/wards immediately adjacent to the store.

Be sure not to peak too early, as the majority of voters still vote on Election Day.

III. Mail/Lit Drops

If you have the resources to do a direct mail piece or literature drop right before the election, time it so that it will actually be read. People don't pay much attention to elections, especially local ones, until right before the election. To get the most out of this piece of literature, mailing/dropping it so that people get it the weekend before the election will increase the chances of a voter reading it. You can mail/drop it to a targeted list or you can do a blanket mail/drop to targeted areas or blanket everybody.

IV. Forums and Meetings

Go to public forums, and go prepared. Try to know who the audience will be and what issues they'll be most concerned about. Address those issues but also speak about your major ones. For example, if you are going to a neighborhood association candidate's forum, call the president and/or staff of the association or of the city and ask them about the issues confronting that area of town. They will appreciate your interest. Maybe ask them to take you on a tour of their neighborhood. Being seen with the president can pull some support your way. Municipal planning documents may be an important source of information on a particular neighborhood.

Ask for something specific at the forum or meeting you attend. For example:

Have a sign-up sheet, envelopes and literature at all events. Have a pin made that says your name, that you are a candidate, and what office you are seeking. Wear this pin everywhere.

Role-playing can help you be prepared for the forums, or for other aspects of the work. Video tape yourself and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of your presentation.

Bring someone with you who can give you feedback on your performance.

V. Miscellaneous

Think of creative campaign ideas, such as parades, party fund-raisers that are fun, original cartoons printed on literature or sent to newspapers. These ideas are fun for volunteers and bring a sense of humanity to the seriousness of the issues. It can also help create momentum for your campaign.

It is important to plan the peak of your campaign to coincide with when you have the voters attention. This usually means the week or a few days before they vote.

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