Constituent Outreach Best Practices

Truly powerful constituent outreach programs do not happen by accident. To boost the effectiveness of your communications, having a strategy and being able to execute it is essential. If you’re able to maximize your engagement opportunities, you will be setting yourself up for success during this Congress and beyond.

Fireside recommends making frequent and varied contact with your constituents each month. There are a lot of methods for achieving this, but before we get too far into the weeds, let’s go over some background information that will be important to know.

What is an Affiliation Tag? What is an Issue Tag? In Fireside, we allow you to organize your constituents in two important ways. Affiliation tags categorize groups of people (medical professionals, educators, small business owners) while Issue tags identify specific legislative interests (veterans issues, international affairs, environmental policy).

What is a Mass Mailing or Mass Communication? What is a 499? Mass communications are any unsolicited communications of substantially identical content sent out to 500 or more individuals. A 499 is any unsolicited communication of substantially identical content sent out to fewer than 500 individuals.

What is a Blackout Period? A Member may not send any unsolicited mass mailings or mass communication less than 60 days immediately before the date of any primary or general election (whether regular, special, or runoff) in which the Member is a candidate for public office.

Strategic Planning

  • Build Your Data - As soon as your first constituent sends you a message through your website’s contact form, you’re on your way to collecting data. If you’re a Fireside customer, you will be given voter data to seed your new database and get your office up and running.

  • Purchase Data - Want to communicate with constituents not already in your database or looking to target specific groups? Need more email addresses to widen the circle of people you ask to opt in to your newsletter? Purchasing enhanced or email data are great ways to do this - and you can buy data directly through Fireside! We will pull the requested data for you and import it directly into your Fireside account so you can begin targeting your outreach ASAP.

  • Data Tagging - One of the most important things we can stress is using Affiliation and Issue tags to help you micro-target and increase the effectiveness of your outreach. The best time to tag constituents with an Affiliation or an Issue is during the logging process. This means that your press and legislative mail teams have to be on the same page and have this shared goal in mind. When a constituent writes “As a teacher…” or contacts you about an education issue, tag it. When you sponsor a piece of relevant legislation you’ll know exactly which people in your district will be the most interested.

  • Franking Your Messages - Before your office can send mass communications, you will need to get the message, survey questions or telephone town hall script approved by the Franking Commission. Learn more about which items require Franking and the procedures for submission.

  • Audiences - Take advantage of all the features in the Audience Builder to improve your targeted communications. You can micro-target constituents with 499s related to their interests or you can construct complex and dynamic audiences so you’re ready to go as soon as your Franked message has been approved.

Effective Execution

  • Fireside Live Events - A Fireside Live event is an excellent way to engage constituents and even increase your opt-ins as well. With Fireside Live events you can dial constituents' cell and home phones and stream the conversation online as you answer their moderated questions. You can also take advantage of the Live Event criteria in Audiences to follow up with participants after the call is over. Whether it’s a town hall, a robocall, or even a robo survey, a Fireside Live event is the way to go. Let us coordinate the logistics and dials, so you never have to worry.

  • Web Surveys - Providing constituents with an opportunity to make their opinions heard is a fantastic way of increasing your opt-ins. You can use surveys to gauge interest in issues, or you can conduct a constituent satisfaction survey. Surveys can also be strategically employed when you’re holding live events. Whether the event is in the district or you’re hosting a Fireside Live Event, you can create an event sign-up form using a survey. Check out our blog for more on how to build your opt-ins with surveys.

  • Bulk Mailings - Fireside’s Bulk Mail tool is a quick and easy way to set up solicited and unsolicited mass mailings. Like constituent responses, you will need an approved form letter, but you will also need to use one of the Audiences you created in the first stage. Send out surveys, district or Fireside Live event sign-ups, or any other information you might want to share.