by Molly Horan, Managing Director
Do the events of 2020 have you itching to learn how you can participate in the democratic process? Many Americans who were previously not interested in politics have decided to claim their seat at the table and speak up for the policies and programs that are critical to their communities.
Maybe you want to see greener energy solutions or criminal justice reform or greater transparency in our system of government. While the pandemic has taken away so much from all of us, with respect to civic engagement it has brought access to governing to our living room.
Four simple ways you can participate and have your voice heard:
1 | Attend a public hearing from your couch
To me the opportunity for the public to offer their opinions on every bill before the Massachusetts legislature is a sacred part of the process. I’ve sat in a lot of public hearings in the last twelve years, some spanning as long as seven hours, so I understand that very few people want to sit for hours in a stuffy hearing room on a rigid wooden bench waiting for their turn to speak.
Participating in these hearings has never been easier. Trade your suit for your sweatpants. Get comfy on the couch with your fur baby and participate in the legislative process. Public input matters. So many people across the state have smart ideas for how to solve problems or might present a unique perspective on how a policy is affecting them. We are strongest as a Commonwealth when we show up and speak up.
2 | Sign or organize a petition to legislators
You might think that sending an email to your elected officials lands in an inbox and is never read. Having been a staffer, I can tell you those emails are opened and read, and when there is a critical mass from constituents on a particular topic, it gets noticed and flagged for the boss.
Many of our clients leverage our ability to manage petitions on their behalf where we can capitalize on their social media audience to click a link, enter some basic information, and let them weigh in with their own officials on a topic important to them. As an individual, if you take 5 minutes you can express your support or opposition for a petition you see circulating online.
3 | Tune into the new Fireside Chat: Instagram stories
Love her or hate her, we all know AOC’s name. Her use of Instagram stories is her bully pulpit. Morning Consult polls showed more Americans knew who the first term Congresswoman from New York was than most of the Democratic Presidential field in 2019.
Beyond sharing her positions, she smartly uses Instagram to humanize herself and let people see her as a both a Congresswoman, but also a millennial woman and new kind of elected official. More than 100,000 followers tuned in to her Instagram live where she shared her story as a survivor of sexual assault.
Candidates and advocacy campaigns have tapped into Instagram stories and ads to reach their preferred audiences. This is a tactic we can employ in persuasion campaigns, but also it allows us to pose questions directly to elected officials while they are a captive audience.
4 | Geotarget your campaign to your key audiences
The digital advertising landscape today offers a wealth of tools for campaigns of all sizes and budgets. Across social media and online advertising, we have the ability to tailor to preferred demographics, locations, and reach our audience across platforms where they consume content. Vendors can even match IP addresses for voter files, to ensure you’re reaching registered voters.
Maybe an individual clicked on one of your ads on The Boston Globe and now your content will appear in their social media feeds or on their streaming services while they binge watch their new show. Meeting voters where they are is how campaigns build momentum. Paid digital tools offer countless ways to get your message in front of people.
It has never been easy to engage in our democracy. And I would argue that it’s also never been more important.