Action Lefty No. 9: Use Every Trick Arrow in your Quiver
4:31PM Jan 3, 2023
google drive folder
Welcome to Louisiana Lefty, a podcast about politics and community in Louisiana, where we make the case that the health of the state requires a strong progressive movement fueled by the critical work of organizing on the ground. Our goal is to democratize information, demystify party politics, and empower you to join the mission, because victory for Louisiana requires you.
I'm your host, Lynda Woolard. We're on the winter break, but we're still turning out mini-pods in the meantime. As we began 2023, I want to acknowledge that this is a big year in Louisiana state politics, as this is the year the offices of governor, attorney general, treasurer, and secretary of state, as well as all the legislative seats, will be on our fall ballot. Louisiana is one of a handful of states that holds its state elections in odd years, outside of congressional years. So we have a lot of work to do this year and should be able to enlist a little out of state help in some of our key Democrat versus Republican races since we'll be one of the national focal points. I'll talk more about that on a future episode. But on this episode, I want to talk about simple ways you can use the device most of you carry around with you 24/7 - your smartphone - to help your favorite candidates.
Most of us know about using our phones to phone bank or text bank for candidates. And that's a great way to help them speak directly to voters. But I'm going to mention a couple other ways you can turn your phone into a tool for a campaign. First, you can help your candidate by doing some light tracking work. We don't think about doing this much outside of big campaigns, but it can be a real boost to opposition research. If you're in a position to see the opponent at a town hall or campaign event where they'll be speaking publicly, you can record them using the voice memo or video features of your phone, and then upload the recording to a Google Drive folder that you'll share with an appropriate campaign staff member. This allows the campaign you're supporting to hear for themselves what the opposition is saying. Usually this isn't going to be earth shattering stuff, but you never know. Occasionally a candidate will say something truly revelatory about where they really stand. And since voters have a right to know these things, your candidate should be willing to enlighten them as to what their opponent is saying. Think Mitt Romney's 47% video. So if this is something you'd be willing to volunteer some time to do, you should speak with someone from your candidate's campaign, and set up a system that will be most effective for them.
Similarly, your candidate will likely be wanting constant and consistent content to share on their own social media feeds and website. So you can help with that, too. If you're at an event with them, folks always like to get pics made with candidates. Instead of just taking your own selfie with them, make sure you're getting pics of other attendees at events with the candidate. Candid unposed shots are really useful, particularly photos of them speaking with a wide variety of voters, shaking hands with individuals, or speaking to small groups of folks. You can share these directly with the campaign by email or text for them to post to their own social media. And you can post some of them to your own Twitter or Instagram for the campaign accounts manager to retweet and share as they like.
Another tool you can employ is short videos, whether they're brief clips of the candidate making an important point they hit frequently on the campaign trail or 30-second testimonials from supporters. For the latter, in a quiet place away from the bustle of an event, ask folks why they're supporting the candidate. You can, again, share this content directly with the campaign, which you may have to do via a Google Drive folder or Dropbox type situation, or you can post it yourself tagging the speaker and the candidate so they can share it too.
Whether taking photos or video, you will need to consider the platform you're planning to use them for so you'll know whether to shoot the footage in portrait or landscape mode. If you're planning to share it on Twitter or Facebook, you'll need to hold your phone sideways in the landscape position. And if you're planning the content for Instagram or Tiktok, you will want to hold the camera upright in portrait position. Make sure you do that before you start recording a video so that it will be properly aligned for the full recording.
If at all possible, it's best if you can connect with someone from the campaign to find out their greatest content needs. And you'll want to study the candidate enough to know what their main talking points are so you can be sure to always stay on message.
There are multiple apps that you can download from your smartphone's App Store that will allow you to create graphics for candidates, with Canva being, of course, the most popular. You'll want to use the campaign's logo and color scheme. But you can do much of this kind of thing for a campaign as a volunteer. Again, you should work with them to find out their greatest needs. But for smaller campaigns that don't have staff managing their social media, you may just end up doing some of this stuff on your own in a grassroots way. For example, leading up to 2015 and John Bel Edwards' first run for governor, we created some very low tech graphics that we coordinated posting through a group of us who were often online, and were able to share some of his key plans using images and frequently used hashtags. This showed a growing movement in support of his run. And as I've mentioned previously, both local and national journalists have traditionally watched Twitter like hawks, so that was a key place that we focused our efforts with this particular strategy.
In the same way, while you're taking photos and creating graphics, you could pull together a group of social media volunteers, and manage them for a candidate to make sure there's content being posted on their behalf every day. Again, it's always best to work in partnership with a campaign. But if for any reason that isn't possible, just remember, you want to be the best possible representative for your candidate that you can be. Don't say or post anything that will put them in a vulnerable position in their race. You don't want to become the story, unless it's just a simple acknowledgement that a lot of people seem to like this person running for elected office.
Finally, there are those in-between sized campaigns that don't have the money to hire someone to manage online content, but are developed enough that they can organize some volunteer staff assistance. If you have the skill set and spare time to manage social media for a candidate, you can certainly offer to do that. There are a couple of ways to handle that depending on how much the candidate already has a following and voice online. If they're just starting out, without a lot of followers, there's likely no harm in managing their campaign account directly. If on the other hand, they're already pretty well established on social media, it may be best to start a new campaign account. For example, Stacey Abrams has her own @StaceyAbrams account on Twitter as well as a @TeamAbrams account.
Whichever way you go, you'll want to make sure you're getting good guidance from the campaign. And pro tip: it's a good idea to calendar out your posts so you're sharing info that's relevant to what your candidate is doing every week. Is it the last week to register to vote? What's the key talking point for the candidate this week: education, crime, infrastructure? You should make sure you're creating content that syncs up with whatever the campaign is talking about at the time, so that you're staying relevant, and creating a source of repetition of key messages on the issues that drew you to this person in the first place.
So that phone you have in your hand is a valuable campaign tool. It has multiple uses that maybe you just haven't fully engaged with yet. You can do any or all of these things at no cost to you or your candidate. So when resources are tight, as they usually are for folks on the left, and you need to increase name recognition or inform voters about a candidate's bio, values, and platform. This is a great way to help with that.
Run some technical tests now, so that when it comes time to help your candidate later this year, you'll have the confidence and know how to be an MVP on their team.
Thank you for listening to Louisiana Lefty. Please follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Thank you to Ben Collinsworth for producing Louisiana Lefty, Jen Pack of Black Cat Studios for our Super Lefty artwork, and Thousand $ Car for allowing us to use their swamp pop classic "Security Guard" as our Louisiana Lefty theme song.