Circumstances now force candidates to campaign virtually. 5 tips on how to do virtual events well.

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You can’t do campaign rallies. You can’t ring doorbells. You can’t do town hall meetings. No more meet and greets. Circumstances now force candidates to campaign virtually, for there is no other option in many parts of the country.

There are plenty of platforms for that. Facebook Live. Instagram. You-Tube. One of my favorites is zoom.

Today 5 tips on how to do virtual events well:

1. Use an interesting subject line on your invitation. Last week I received an email that said ‘join my on-line town hall.’ Boring. When I opened it, the first line I saw was ‘I’ll be sharing my views.’ More boring.

Little wonder that few joined.

Tell people what they are going to get out of watching your virtual event, or tips you’ll be revealing, or an expert authority you are going to interview, perhaps a doctor or health care expert, or where people can get a Coronavirus test, or how to deal with a prickly health insurance carrier, or how people with a tapped out credit card can get groceries.

2. Get your technical ducks in a row. Before it starts. Rehearse it before you go live. Use a hard wire audio connection. Make sure you have a good internet connection. An appropriate backdrop.

If your voice is distorted, or your connection is spotty, you will lose your audience quickly. If viewers see your kids making toast in the kitchen while you talk, your audience will be watching your kids, not you.

3. Make your event interesting. OK to start with a short story that has a useful tip or important point. But an hour-long talking head monologue is dull as dishwater.

Use slides to illustrate a point. Better yet, animated slides. Open it up to questions.

Zoom allows you to do breakout rooms. There is software that allows you to take polls to help drive the presentation. The more interactive it is, the more your audience will get out of it, and the more likely they are to tell their friends about you.

4. Make sure you are well-read and up-to-date on the latest news before you go live. Otherwise, you’ll look like an ill-informed dummy.

5. Have a call to action. Ask people to visit your website. Sign up to volunteer. Make phone calls. Help recruit their friends and family to join your next event.

Virtual events are the new reality of campaigns. Those who do them well will do well. Those who don’t will be invisible. 

One other thought for you and your campaign. Only two issues matter right now, regardless of your jurisdiction. Health care. And the inevitable recession.

When the pandemic passes, the economy will be front and center. If you are not addressing those issues, you will be irrelevant.

Even more important, leaders are now in great demand. Voters are looking for people they can trust to make decisions on their behalf. In every word you say, every sentence you utter, voters are making judgments about your leadership skills.

That is not a test you can afford to flunk.


running for office

Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

How to win an election:

Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.

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