Even in the midst of a summer filled with social distancing, kids (still) at home, and desperate attempts to keep cool, think back to the end of last year. Think back to the last time you attended an extended family gathering, sitting around the table with your aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, and everyone else with whom you avoid political discussions like the plague. When something came up, was there a rowdy yelling match? Or an unusually high interest in clearing the table and helping with the dishes?
Politics is a part of us, whether you are a BBC junkie or skipped your civics classes altogether. But, like it or not, when it comes to civic engagement, there are times when we can’t simply opt out. Subjects like public health (#maskup), taxation, schools, infrastructure, and more, require public engagement. And these campaigns are often breathtaking in scope, targeting hundreds of thousands of people (or more) in relatively short periods of time.
No matter if a government entity is tasked with public awareness or an NGO seeks to educate and inspire, marketing around politics can be tricky. Not only are some topics emotionally charged, but there is also always another side that is just as eager to convince the public of the opposite message.
In order to deliver a compelling message that resonates – not alienates – the best strategy is relying on and optimizing, the power of the human connection. Deploying a “boots on the ground” approach using professional brand ambassadors is one of the smartest ways to make your case. But, like politics, the devil is in the details when it comes to execution.
Face-to-face engagement is one of the most impactful ways that human beings communicate. While there are many studies that back up its efficacy, MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab spent hundreds of hours studying in-person human interaction, which included extensive data sets ranging from the tone of voice to body language. And the results were clear – the most valuable communication is done in-person.
When it comes to politics, tapping into in-person interactions can be the difference between dialogue and dismissal. However, while face-to-face is better, choosing the right person to deliver those messages is equally as paramount.
Your brand ambassadors need to be on a peer level with your target audience. For example, a campaign that makes the case for raising taxes and is targeted toward middle-aged workers isn’t going to be well received if delivered by a student who has no experience with taxation. Your brand ambassadors need to be educated, confident leaders that can influence people and open their minds. Knowing where to find the right people and how to recruit them will make all the difference when it comes to driving and demonstrating campaign impact.
While having the right people to interface with the public is essential, it is only the first step when it comes to successful activation. Clear and consistent delivery is required, and when it comes to politics, nuance matters.
The truth is, organizers need several tools at their disposal to deliver effective and scalable training, management, and campaign execution across markets.
Technology: In the vast majority of cases, large-scale activations require technology to achieve high levels of scalability and success. At Elevate, we live and breathe brand activation, and have therefore over the years developed an expansive, proprietary technology platform that can support global activation, from onboarding to training, scheduling to staff follow up, and coaching. If governments or organizations do not have this type of infrastructure at their disposal, finding a partner to support them will ensure both a seamless activation and the checks and balances needed to execute a large-scale campaign properly.
Management structure: You need a team, both in the office and in the field, that is highly skilled and experienced in managing people on a nationwide scale, and has a methodology related to ongoing coaching, team management, and staffing strategy. Without this backbone, even if the campaign starts with a bang, it will likely not have the level of support and expertise needed to perform over the long-haul.
Event staff safety and contingency plans: Even outside of the pandemic and the required health and safety protocols and training related to PPE, social distancing, and more, political activations are a challenging space. Staff can be met with hostility, strong opinions, and sometimes even violence. A robust training system that addresses conflict management and using soft skills ensures staff is prepared, not only to protect themselves but to leave the public feeling heard and satisfied, no matter what the outcome.
Measuring campaign impact in real-time is non-negotiable. Proving impact is at the forefront, and consistently gathering, assimilating, and acting on data from the field maximizes ROI. Data points such as individual staff performance, engagement tactics, and location can all be adjusted and optimized as the activation progresses.
Equally important to following the numbers is responding to brand ambassador feedback. Maintaining a consistent two-way dialogue must be built into the activation. And if something is or isn’t working in practice, adapt the message or tactic accordingly.
The Votes are In! Brand Ambassadors are the Key to Successful Political Activations
If you want to engage with and educate the public, human connection is your superpower. When governments and organizations follow these best practices related to staffing and executing large-scale public activations, they are best equipped to have the right conversations – and outcomes.