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The Blackouts are Coming! - A Guide for Blackout Success

Kyle | February 08, 2016
Fireside21's Guide to Blackout Success - Subscribers / Opt-ins, Surveys, Teletownhalls.


It’s important to set yourself up for success by maximizing your opportunities both in and out of the 2016 Blackout periods. During Blackouts, you are permitted to send 499s and communicate with your opt-in list, so increasing the number of constituents subscribing to receive communications from your office should be a priority. To boost the effectiveness of your communications both within and outside of a Blackout, having a strategy and being able to execute it is essential.

What is a Blackout Period? A Member may not send any unsolicited mass mailings or mass communication less than 90 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.

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

Strategic Planning

Planning ahead is critical in your quest to save time and even save money from your Franking budget.
  • 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 into your newsletter? Purchasing enhanced or email data are great ways to do this - and now you can buy data directly through Fireside21! We will pull the requested data for you and import it directly into your Fireside account, so you can begin targeting your outreach ASAP.

  • Clean Up Data - Having Fireside21 scrub your “All Emails” list at least once a year can remove undeliverable emails from your database, which also helps your office avoid hitting spam traps. In addition, you can update constituent information through House Mailing Services. Undeliverable As Addressed mail can eat up your Franking budget, and House Mailing Services offers National Change of Address checks, Householding by unique address and other helpful services.

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

  • Audiences - Take advantage of all the new features in the Audience Builder to improve your targeted communications. You can micro-target constituents with 499s related to their interests during the Blackout or you can construct larger audiences so you’re ready to go as soon as your Blackout has expired.

Effective Execution
Once the preparations have been completed, there are three strategic ways you can build your subscribers.
  • Teletownhalls - A Teletownhall event is an excellent way to not only engage your constituents, but increase your number of opt-ins as well. You can also take advantage of the new Teletownhall criteria in Audiences to follow up with participants after the event is over. As this is high season for Teletownhalls, be sure to book your dates early! To book your preferred date and time, Contact the Account Team.

  • 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 Teletownhall, 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 unsolicited mailings from your CRM. 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 Teletownhall event sign-ups, or any other information you might want to share. You can also use the Newsletter platform if you prefer. If you need training for the bulk mail tool, let the Account Team know and we can can walk you through it!

Additional Resources
Several Blackout-related resources to assist with your preparations (and one report that might be of interest).

If you have any questions, give us a call or hop into chat!
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