What new technology may help to reach and inspire REALTORS®?
In today’s increasingly technology-oriented world, it just makes sense that political advocacy would incorporate mobile apps, software, websites, and online services to get folks involved in important causes. Of course, getting members to become more politically aware and involved in your organization’s housing- and real estate–related political initiatives can be a tall order, even with technology in your corner.
In this article, we explore several types of e-advocacy tools and show how they can be leveraged effectively to motivate, inform, and even petition members in an efficient and cost-effective way.
Mobile Apps to the Rescue
Keeping up with new and proposed laws and bills can be a monumental task for busy AEs and REALTORS® whose plates are already filled with work and life commitments. Using a mobile app such as Countable (iOS, free), you can quickly get up to speed on key issues, send e-mails to government representatives to tell them how you’d like them to vote via a single “tap” on your mobile device, and rally others to join the cause. The app features short summaries of federal and limited local legislation, the pro/con arguments, the costs of the legislation, and more. Be sure to type the bill number into nar.realtor or the legislation database at narfocus.com/billdatabase/index.php for the REALTOR® Party stance on the legislation.
Another app, Congress (by Sunlight Foundation, iOS and Android, free), proclaims to harness “the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency.” It enables you to follow Washington happenings, learn more about members of Congress, track bill activity, and send e-mails to your representatives. As the 2016 elections heat up, look for more apps like these.
Creating an Online Platform
Creating grassroots campaigns and rallying support online has been made easier by a number of Web-based platforms designed to help organizations garner interest in their causes.
Your best bet, of course, is the NAR REALTOR® Party Hub (see sidebar), but if you don’t like getting tools for free, there is a bevy of alternatives.
One popular contact, fundraising, and constituency relationship management solution, CiviCRM provides a suite of communications tools allowing you to build subscriber lists and create mass mailings. CiviCRM is used by large organizations such as Amnesty International and Wikimedia Foundation for their fundraising.
Other options include Engaging Networks, which provides software to support online advocacy campaigning, and Change.org, which provides campaign tools that claim to build support and drive campaign momentum. Groups looking for a way to create and use online petitions can check out options from iPetitions, PetitionBuzz, and GoPetition, all of which offer platforms for getting constituents to “chime in” on important legislation.
Tapping the Social Component
Another easy and affordable way to get members motivated in favor of a cause or position is via the social networking platforms you’re probably already using, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. Not only can you build groups and pages with an advocacy focus, but you can tap a wide range of specific advocacy tools that integrate with your social platforms.
Tools such as JustGiving, Causes, and Razoo enable members to share their charitable giving actions on Facebook and Twitter. Plugins like these are great for spreading the word on community outreach projects and fundraising for organizations like Habitat for Humanity, but don’t use it for RPAC (see p.27).
Twitter and Facebook ads enable you to direct a call for action to just your members, just people in certain ZIP codes, or by their interests, such as real estate.
Simple Advocacy Websites
If you want to create a completely separate brand or identity for, say, a legislative advocacy campaign in which your association is part of a coalition with other organizations, there are several easy mobile-ready web site builders, including Yola, Placester, and Weebly.
Respond to Calls for Action on Your Phone
Before your elected officials make important decisions about the housing industry and private property rights, make sure they hear from you. Sign up for the REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts to get a text message whenever there’s an important call for action from the National Association of REALTORS®. You can respond within minutes from your mobile device. More than 56,000 REALTORS® are already signed up to receive REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts. NAR promises that members won’t be bombarded with REALTOR® Party texts—they can expect only two to three alerts a year focused on the most critical issues in Washington, D.C., affecting your business and home ownership. To receive the alerts, text the word REALTOR to 30644 or visit realtorparty.realtor/member-consumer/rpma. Another great way to stay informed and take action from a mobile device is to download the free REALTOR® Party Mobile App from your app store. The REALTOR® Party Mobile App features reports on how your state and local association are using NAR programs to build political strength in your own backyard. Plus, you can invest in RPAC from your phone. For more information, visit realtorparty.realtor/.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Whether you use one or all of the e-advocacy methods highlighted here, consistency will be the key to success. Simply sending out a few tweets, putting a new bill on an e-advocacy platform, or telling members about a new mobile app isn’t enough. Keep the pressure on with a consistent effort focused on a steady communication flow and make sure the right team members are involved in the cause. Your association will stand a much better chance of breaking through the clutter and getting the attention and support it needs to achieve its goals.