Campaigning in the Era of Coronavirus

Friends, Colleagues, and Clients —

As our country collectively faces one of the greatest crises in recent history, the importance of our elected officials effectively communicating with the public has never been greater. That’s why our team at MDW is working hard to help our clients adapt to this new reality, working with campaigns to develop creative ways to communicate with their community during this time of uncertainty.

Now more than ever, people need strong, responsive leadership. People need to know what their leaders are doing about this crisis and what steps they need to take to protect themselves, their families, and their livelihoods.

Over the past week, MDW has focused on helping our clients mobilize, leveraging their digital networks to communicate with the public.

I wanted to take a moment to share a little information about the steps we’re taking and some thoughts on the road ahead.

Using Campaign Websites as Coronavirus Resource Hubs

Our team has already launched multiple landing pages for clients on their existing websites outlining a number of critical resources for the community at-large. These pages include links to CDC and WHO resource pages covering symptoms, quarantine procedures, social distancing best practices, and much more. They also include the hotline numbers to local health departments, price gouging hotlines, and resources for managing stress/anxiety.

Here is an example of a resource landing page that we created for our client Javier Fernandez.

Additionally, we’ve been outfitting many of our clients’ websites with popup banners that alert new visitors to the addition of new coronavirus resource pages on the site.

Check out an example on our client Kionne McGhee’s website.

Using Email Programs as Crisis Communication Tools

For our clients who are currently incumbents, we have been working over the past week to create rapid-response emails outlining what their offices are doing to help mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis and sharing important resources to the community. We’re temporarily moving away from aggressive digital fundraising and focusing on making sure voters and residents know what their elected officials are doing to help. Inspiring confidence in local leadership is critical to mitigating this crisis.

Here’s an example of how our client Dave Aronberg is communicating to voters about what his State Attorney’s Office is doing to combat price gouging.

Crafting Social Media Outreach Plans 

Social media is perhaps the most powerful tool campaigns will have at their disposal to communicate and mobilize throughout this crisis. Our team has been working hard over the past several days to craft updated social media content strategies, with a major focus on sharing universal coronavirus information, updates about local policies and efforts, as well as positive and uplifting content that can bring our community together.

Here is an example of how our client Daniella Levine Cava is using social media to thank those who are on the frontline of this crisis, such as healthcare professionals.

Sharing relatable content showcasing ways that candidates are personally coping with this crisis sends a strong signal that we’re all in this together.

Some of our candidates have had to make unique life changes in this crisis, including our client Russ Rywell, candidate for Miami-Dade School Board. Russ is a full-time teacher in Miami Beach and has had to adapt to teaching classes online. Russ’ experience was recently documented by WSVN7 in Miami, and we’ve been utilizing Russ’ social media presence to share his experience with voters throughout his community. 

For our clients who are taking direct action in the legislature, on their county commissions, or at the local level, we’re leveraging social media to share and promote information about the steps they’re taking to bring relief to communities affected the most.

Check out this example of how our client Shevrin Jones is leveraging Facebook to communicate with voters about his efforts to bring immediate relief to individuals who can’t afford to pay their rent or utilities.

Shifting to Digital Organizing

We’re working with our clients – up and down the ballot – to shift towards digital organizing. So what exactly does that entail? Here is a list of actions our clients are taking to make this transition:

  • Hosting digital/telephone town halls.
  • Planning and promoting Facebook Live events.
  • Leveraging email, with customized landing pages, to help candidates trying to qualify by petition.
  • Creating rumor-control social media content to keep people calm and focused on the facts.
  • Crafting rapid response programs via email and paid social media promotion to get important information to residents quickly.
  • Shifting extra resources to peer-to-peer SMS programs.

Reallocating Campaign Resources

Traditional canvassing will not be a viable option for potentially months, which will have a significant impact on campaigns and will require a reallocation of resources. MDW is working with our clients to find the best ways to reallocate those resources so that our candidates can still effectively connect with voters while they practice social distancing.

This means creative use of direct mail, a significant investment in high-impact digital such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, an extra focus on persuasion-based email communications, and an increase in SMS/Phone program spending.

Our team – which has always worked remotely – is ready and prepared to help.

Final Thoughts

Our communities are collectively facing a lot of uncertainty. Now more than ever, the public needs to know what our elected officials are doing to combat this crisis and bring them relief.

In the short term, campaigns will need to double their efforts to utilize digital platforms as a means of informing and reassuring voters and their families. But in the long term, there will need to be some significant changes.

As Fall approaches, we predict that vote-by-mail will surge as a preferred method of voting, especially in areas like South Florida where it’s already popular. We will work with our clients and others to encourage new vote-by-mail registrations, especially within communities that historically prefer to vote early.

This will require extra investments in expanded direct mail targeting and increased digital ad budgets to maximize both the frequency of voter contact, as well as the overall reach of each individual contact program.

Our team is ready to help.

Since 2014, MDW has worked with nearly 140 successful political campaigns and advocacy efforts across the United States. We’ve won 13 national awards for excellence in political direct mail since 2016 alone, and our team of talented professionals all work remotely.

We’re ready to help you adapt, communicate, and win. 

Sincerely,

Michael D. Worley
President, MDW Communications