David vs Goliath in Kalamazoo

5 mins read

Necessity is the mother of invention. A team of Kalamazoo candidates innovate to overcome their lack of resources.

The candidates have little funding and few technical resources, so the choice to use They adopted free, easy to use apps where possible to reach more voters, fund raise and mobilize their supporters. Volunteers for the three candidates collaborate to get the most value from their efforts in creating videos, flyers and online events. The candidates include:
Veronica McKissack – Kalamazoo County Commission
Stephanie Moore – Michigan 60th District State Representative
Doreen Gardner – Kalamazoo County Clerk

Campaign videos
Volunteers create 30 second campaign and issue videos with Lumen5, a free app. The app includes a catalog of professionally produced, royalty-free video clips and sound tracks that can be used to create new high quality videos with captions. The videos created can be easily adapted for other candidates on the team with a simple cut-and-paste feature. Videos created in Lumen5 are exported and shared on social media. Candidates benefit from high quality videos, produced by their volunteers quickly for free. Learn more about how to use Lumen5 from this free online course created by DemCast and DemLabs.

Smart flyers
QR Codes are digital codes that provide information when scanned with a camera phone. They can be freely created and make it easy for people to respond.

Volunteers add QR Codes to flyers which direct voters to the campaign’s website when the code is scanned. QR codes are generated with Tec-It, a free app. QR codes can also be used to launch emails, texts and phone calls. Scan the code below to see how smart flyers work.

QR codes that encourage people to register to vote are added to yard signs. Details here. Workers at hazardous facilities such as meat packing plants are asked to complete online surveys on what COVID19 safety measures are being taken. Details here.

Peer-To-Peer texting
The candidates used volunteers to peer-to-peer (P2P) text their supporters. The messages included invitations to join online events, donate and visit the candidate’s website to learn more about them.

Contact lists are first uploaded into Text Per Cent. Volunteers then texted people of the list with messages that the campaign had predefined. A combination of text (SMS) messages and images (MMS) were used in the campaign. Text messages can be customized with the recipient’s name, much like an email merge program.

SMS messages are limited to 150 characters in a segment. Longer text messages consist of multiple segments. Images and GIFs (less than 100Kb in size) can be sent as MMS texts and improve the chances of a response. Videos are sent in the form of a URL in the text message.

Each candidate’s initial contact list size was about 3,000 records. Volunteers were trained on how to text with Text per Cent in under an hour. Most could send 60 texts/minute and process the whole list of 3,000 records in less an hour.

Cost to send SMS texts to 3,000 people:
3,000 people x 1 cent/SMS text = $30

Cost to send MMS texts with an image to 3,000 people:
3,000 people x 2 cents/MMS text = $60

DemLabs LLC developed the Text Per Cent app using Signalwire technology to make P2P texting affordable to more campaigns.

Take away
David brought down Goliath with a free pebble. Challengers in Kalamazoo are tackling better funded opponents with new apps as their campaign pebbles. Got pebbles?


Democracy Labs

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Democracy Labs is a hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation that serves progressive campaigns and organizations at the national, state, and local levels.

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