May 7, 2020
Excerpt of article by By Nick Fouriezos appearing in OZY May 7, 2020:
Nancy Mace is running for Congress, but if you checked into her campaign outreach lately, you would hardly be able to tell. Her social feeds are chock full of coronavirus updates, and her email list — used mostly for fundraising in the past — has become a heartfelt forum for relaying advice from business owners and medical professionals she has personally interviewed. “I’ll be honest, it’s been a tough week of social distancing,” the Republican state representative in South Carolina began in a March 26 email, before promising to continue “plowing through” questions sent to her by email, text, Facebook and Twitter.
There were no donation asks, no volunteer requests. And Mace is far from alone in changing her outreach strategy. As the pandemic has seized Americans’ attention, candidates for office are turning to customer service techniques and technologies more often honed in the corporate world.
In Florida, state senate candidate Shevrin Jones has become a virtual PSA, his Facebook flooded with posts about hotline numbers and food bank drives, tele-town halls and tax payment extensions. Ben Sasse, the junior U.S. senator from Nebraska, has been answering constituent questions posed in flash-card format: “Hey Ben. Where the [heck] did all the toilet paper go?!” one asks, to which Sasses gives both a long, thoughtful answer, and a shorter one: “Everybody poops.” The Joe Biden campaign for president has had staffers doing “check-in” calls, asking voters how they are doing with coronavirus and social distancing, and connecting them to local social-service groups when necessary.
“We were built for enterprise clients, [but] since this disaster has hit, we’re getting tons and tons of calls,” says Phil Gordon, CEO of the automated messaging platform Prompt.io. “Suddenly campaigns and nonprofits can’t do events, fundraising, canvassing, and so they are relying on other forms of technology.”