Written by Diana Onken, Director for Mobilization for Save the Children Action Network
Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) is the political voice for kids. We’re fiercely bipartisan because we believe that kids’ issues shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic issue. While we didn’t endorse any candidates in the primaries or general presidential election, starting in Iowa in the summer of 2015 all the way through to Election Day, we worked to elevate the issue of early childhood education in the U.S. and child survival around the globe with the presidential candidates. And we brought our issues to both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions last summer, engaging delegates and elected officials on our issues.
On November 9, 2016, like most Americans, I woke up to surprising election results. Nearly every poll and pundit indicated that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, not Donald Trump.
I had email copy ready to go for either a Clinton or a Trump win. But before launching our Trump message on November 9, I took a look at what our supporters were saying on social media via Attentive.ly. While I knew our supporters leaned toward Clinton, I learned that day how strong and deep that support was. Hashtags like #ImStillWithHer flooded our dashboard.
That insight required a significant change in our messaging timeline and tone. To respond to where our supporter base was, we:
- Sent an email message the week after the election that focused on urging congressional leaders, not President-elect Trump, to support vital maternal and child health programs globally. This message performed quite well, as our supporters were looking for an action to take.
- Added a video clip of President Trump stating his support for early childhood education on our website. We would refer to this statement in subsequent messaging as we pivoted to holding the president-elect accountable to his promise.
- Launched an email campaign asking our supporters to hold then President-elect Trump accountable on his statement in support of funding for early education, referencing the statement he made during the campaign trail.
Our post-election campaigns performed extremely well, largely due to our ability to really hear what our supporters were saying about the election results. If we had launched our initial message, which was neutral in tone and recounted our work to make early education an issue with both presidential candidates, we would have risked alienating our strongest supporters.
We’ve continued to check in on supporters daily to understand where they are coming from and adjust our messaging accordingly. For example, when President Trump issued his executive order in late January banning refugees and others from eight countries, a quick look at Attentive.ly demonstrated that our supporters were fired up about the ban. Nearly immediately, hashtags like #NoTravelBan and #NoRefugee Ban started trending among our supporters.
We had already planned a campaign in response to the travel ban as it hurt refugee children and families fleeing for their lives. But in response to the insights we gleaned from Attentive.ly, I accelerated how quickly our follow up messages to our first message came and incorporated social shares and phone calls to tap into the outrage.
It ended up being our most successful email campaign ever because it was timely and the tone resonated with our supporters.
Time and again, Attentive.ly has provided us with compelling information to speak with our supporters about issues they care about, when they care about them. It is a powerful tool that has lifted SCAN’s voice as we advocate for kids here at home and around the world.
Diana Onken is the director for mobilization for Save the Children Action Network, where she manages the organization’s national grassroots campaigns. She brings twenty years of experience combining a unique skill set of advocacy, digital strategy, strategic planning and grassroots organizing to her role.