What happens when a global pandemic overlaps with a national election? At the very least, we can say that the 2020 election will be different. From Coronavirus safety procedures at polling locations to mail-in voting, absentee voting, ballot drop-offs, and more, many municipalities will experience shifts in their standard election operating procedures. And these all need to be communicated with residents.
Residents will have questions about voting. And when they do, they will turn to their local government for help. County, municipality, and other local governments should be ready to inform citizens of everything they need to know to vote during a pandemic. A strong communications strategy will help get information out to your community, reducing the stress involved in getting to the polls and inbound inquires to 311.
We designed Election Communication Preparedness Kit to help local government build and implement effective messaging strategies. But before using the kit’s election messaging templates or worksheets to help optimize every send, it’s important to create an engaging plan. In a COVID-19 world, how do your election communications need to shift to enable your citizens to vote?
Here are five creative election communication ideas to connect with your residents about the election. Plus, there’s one bonus idea for municipalities and cities with a Rock Solid app!
#1: Use Location Data to Make Maps of Polling or Locations Intuitive
Many municipalities and cities already create maps to show citizens where to vote or drop off ballots. But did you know that maps on mobile can automatically point viewers to their nearest polling place?
Take advantage of location services on mobile to show the closest place to vote. Mobile-friendly maps add convenience to the experience.
Baltimore County, Maryland’s “Where Do I Vote?” feature, created by using Esri maps in its mobile app, presented not only the location of the nearest place to vote, but provided building photos and directions to ensure a positive experience.
#2: Increase Accessibility With Multilingual Messaging
It’s critical to communicate with as many citizens as possible to support the election. This means messages should be accessible to residents in the languages they speak.
Sophisticated mobile push notification services can distribute notifications in different languages based on the recipient’s device settings. If someone operates their smartphone with Spanish language settings, for example, they can receive notifications from your agency automatically in Spanish.
Don’t forget to push Spanish versions of your elections messaging to reach even more of your community to support voter turnout.
#3: Create an Alexa Skill to Share Election Information
Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor, and even YouTube are already part of many local governments’ communication arsenals, but consider other channels your residents use every day. Have you ever considered creating an Alexa skill for your municipality?
Alexa is Amazon’s voice assistant featured on the Echo smart speaker, and skills are like apps for Alexa. Over 83 million people in the U.S. use smart speakers, with Amazon’s device being the speaker of choice for over two out of three users.
The city of Dublin, Ohio has a daily Alexa skill for local news and events. Within these updates, the city could share information about the upcoming election, and point listeners to where they can find more information.
Read an interview with Dublin, OH’s Public Affairs Officer to learn about the city’s communication strategies during COVID-19 >>
#4: Allow Residents to Sign Up for Election Alerts
Some residents want to be more involved in elections, both national and local. Create an opt-in elections information distribution list for community members who would like regular, in-depth updates.
One great perk of building a list is that it carries over into future elections. This can help support communication, registration, and voter turnout for years to come!
#5: Send Mobile Push Notifications on Election Day
“Don’t forget, it’s election day!” Remind voters where they can find all the information they need to vote on election day across all communication platforms.
What makes mobile push notifications stand out is their connection with location data. Many won’t even leave a room without their smartphone, after all! For mobile push notifications, combine election reminders with geolocation data to make messages even more relevant and convenient.
For instance, your municipality could send specific polling place or drop-off details to any citizen within a specific distance of that location by using a Messaging radius. That is high-quality engagement!
Bonus: Put Elections Information Front and Center on Your Rock Solid App
If your local government has a Rock Solid OneLink app, it’s easy to make your election communications mobile. Beyond push notifications and geolocation messaging features, a great way to inform your community of election details is to put a Vote in 2020 button on your app’s home screen.
To add your elections hub to your app, contact the Rock Solid support team today. And if your municipality doesn’t have an elections hub, the Election Communication Preparedness Kit has a handy checklist to help you assemble one for your community!
Want to Create an Effective Election Communication Strategy?
Conducting a safe and successful election during COVID-19 mandates a strong communication strategy. These are just a few of the ideas that government information and communications professionals can use to bolster messaging for the election.
Want more inspiration? Be sure to grab your free copy of the Engaging Election Messaging: An Inspiration Guide for Local Government Ebook in the Election Communication Preparedness Kit. It’s one of the tools and templates to enable your messaging strategy included in the Kit.