Did your organization communicate with employees around this year’s midterm elections? If so, you were not alone.
Fully 72 percent of companies, associations, and nonprofits engaged their employees or members about the election, according to Benchmarking the Ballot Box, a report released by SevenTwenty Strategies and the Public Affairs Council. Based on a survey of a wide swath of advocacy professionals, the report showed most organizations are comfortable talking about election-related issues internally, even if that is simply to encourage their stakeholders to get out and vote.
The findings beg a question: Why do big organizations still engage with their employees and/or members when more impersonal tools or other backchannels may help them achieve similar results?
The answer is both simple and powerful.
While employees may not be the largest audience, they’re the most accessible audience. They are also easy to communicate with, motivate and activate.
“Educated citizen-employees represent a core of voters who are aligned with company values on policy and distributed throughout the states and congressional districts where the company does business,” the report said. “They can be the foundation of a grassroots network.”
‘The Perfect Rallying Point’
As one survey respondent explained, “For our employees, it’s important to tie elections back to the company’s policy priorities and engagement. If they understand that the company is involved in advocating for its policy interests, it helps our employees understand that they have a role in electing the very officials who do (or do not) understand our business.”
The concept is no less essential for large associations, which are charged with representing complex member interests before local, state and federal governments. An active grassroots membership is essential to getting the job done, and elections are a key opportunity to build and strengthen that network.
“Elections are the perfect rallying point around which to educate those members, engage them on issues and move them toward advocacy,” the report said.
Another respondent explained, “The more members who are engaged in elections, the more opportunities for them to engage on issues of importance to our mission. It also helps them to be more inclined to support our PAC and its political agenda.”
The report, based on the 2018 GOTV and Voter Engagement Survey conducted in the lead-up to the midterms, provides detailed information on how companies and associations conducted advocacy in 2018 (and how they plan to in the future). For example, political action committees (PACs) were the top engagement tool, used by 86 percent of respondents, while email programs were another workhorse topping 64 percent. Voter registration websites and candidate visits were also top-ranked at 59 percent each.
Of course, trends in a midterm election are often amplified in a presidential contest, where publicity is greater and voter turnout is increased. Many organizations will be engaging in employees in the 2020 presidential election—a race that has already begun.
If you’d like to view the entire Benchmarking the Ballot Box email us.