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E-mail List Management

Campaign season is well under way, and with several candidates coming right out of the DFA community—like Marian Harris running for Ohio State House and Anne Dicker going for a State House seat in Pennsylvania—it's important for our circle of progressive activists to have the necessary tools to win races.

One of the most critical developments in forming an effective campaign is managing your email list. Now email lists are a relatively recently-developed tool, so while your campaign staffers may be well-versed in precinct organizing and phone banking, managing an email list might be a daunting prospect.

Let's start with the basics. You've walked into the offices of your candidate, and whatever your official job title, your duties include managing the campaign email list. One of your co-workers runs up and says, "Welcome... so anyways, if we can get 5,000 local people to sign up on our list, we'll have a great online base for fundraising, events and activism!"

Sounds like a plan. How are you going to do it?

Building a List
There are many ways—which run the gamut from highly effective to crash-and-burn awful—for building your email list. A few of them are:

  • Your local party organization — Depending on your location and how organized your local party is, they may or may not have a list to share. Or, they may have a list with strict guidelines which prevent sharing. It's important to respect those guidelines (they're in place to protect user privacy!) and work with the party to ensure both you and they treat members with respect for their preferences. Sometimes, an organization which will not share a list, will in fact send an email on your behalf to the list—allowing their users to visit your website and join your list.
  • Website signups — Your campaign site should always feature an easy way for visitors to join your list. Getting newsletter updates is a low-hurdle to campaign participation. Through careful list management, you'll be able to tell which members are interesting in moving up the volunteer ladder, doing progressively more involved tasks for your campaign. People want to help, so give them an easy way to start!
  • Buying a list — Various Internet back-alley email dealers will sell you a million names for a buck. Should you chance it? Well, let's take a look at that list. It's probably one that a computer program assembled by crawling websites, looking for people who have unwittingly posted their email address on message boards and websites. Maybe it's a million randomly-generated email addresses, most of which don't exist. Perhaps you'll happen to buy your addresses on a day when the computer program was crawling through right-wing websites and you'll have a million angry people emailing you to, "Take me off your list!" There is rarely a good time to buy a list. It's better to have a smaller, yet more targeted list than a bloated billion crummy addresses.
  • Event signups — Whenever I walk into campaign events without a sign-in sheet, I wonder if the campaign ever knew I was there. Make the sign-in sheet prominent, include a spot for email addresses and make sure that you ask if you may email those who sign in. A simple checkbox with "may we email you updates?" will do. It's also a nice touch to email a thank you note to everyone who attended your event, no matter what their role. Someone gave up their time for you—thank them!

There are many more ways to grow your list in a smart manner... what can you think of?

If you have other questions about list building and management, fire away -- go strategic or tactical, granular or high-level, content or technology -- whatever you like.

What we're discussing tonight is an extremely abbreviated version of the Online Organizing training which is taught across the nation at the DFA Training Academy. If you would like a more in-depth treatment of this subject, I strongly encourage you to sign up for a two-day DFA training in your area—they are well worth it!

Posted by TaraLiloia on April 24, 2006 at 07:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

Ohio House race

"Hi, I'm Marian Harris candidate for State Representative in Ohio's 19th House District. I'll be joining the MViMV blog on May 8th and looking forward to the discussion. I'm not a blogger and this will be a new experience for me! I'm also a new candidate - after 30 years "behind the scenes" working for other candidates, I've decided that no Republican should go unchallenged - so I'm challenging my representative! I look forward to both experiences!!"

Posted by MarianOhio on April 19, 2006 at 05:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Loser Nation by Greg Palast

After our recent discussion on the immigration issue, Greg Palast's recent article struck a truth. We have been given permission to post it here.  Please pass it along.



Tuesday, April 11, 2006
by Greg Palast

America is a nation of losers. It's the best thing about us. We're the dregs, what the rest of the world barfed up and threw on our shores.

John Kennedy said we are "a nation of immigrants." That's the sanitized phrase. We are, in fact, a nation of refugees who, despite the bastards in white sheets and the know-nothings in Congress, have held open the Golden Door to a dark planet.

Looking out at the temptest-tossed sea of protesting immigrants today, I finally figured out what's wrong with George Walker Bush. He's so far away from his refugee loser roots that he just doesn't get what it is to be American. So he steals the one thing that every American is handed off the boat: a chance. It's not just the immigrants denied a green card. When Bush threatens to take away your Social Security; when Bush's oil wars hike the price of crude and threaten your union-scale job at the airline; when Bush tells you sleeper cells are sleeping under your staircase, you don't take chances anymore -- you lose your chance -- and the land of opportunity becomes a landscape of fear, an armed madhouse.

You want to say that George W. Bush is an evil sonovabitch? I'd go further: he's UN-AMERICAN.

And that's why he lost the election. Twice.

I'll stick with the losers. Take one, Anna, from Poland, who snuck across the US border near Windsor, Ontario. She was grabbed by La Migra -- 80 years later -- just short of her 100th birthday.

My father told Immigration, "OK, send her back." They didn't.

Grandma Anna taught me what two million marchers this week are trying to teach that slow learner, George W.: In America, it's not where you come from that counts, it's where you're going.

Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War, to be released in June, from which this commentary is adapted. To view Palast's investigative reports for BBC Television, go to www.GregPalast.com

Posted by Charlene Johnston on April 17, 2006 at 10:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Spring into Action

Hi Everybody - We're hoping to talk with Tom Hughes tonight - Democracy for America and the Spring into Action DFA Night School and political action in Vermont and elsewhere. Glad you can be with us.


Posted by Jessica Falker on April 17, 2006 at 08:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Live Blog, anyone?

Tom Hughes, Executive Director of Democracy for America, is going to join
the blog tonight.  DFA is in the midst of a month long "Soring into Action"
campaign that includes four classes of DFA Night School (available on-line
at www.democracyforamerica.com/nightschool) and culminates in a national Day
of Action on May 13, when every member of DFA across the country will be
volunteering for a campaig or cause in their neighborhood.

Posted by TomHughes-DFA on April 17, 2006 at 08:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (29)

Honesty in Politics

It appears that the time is correct for bringing back honesty into politics. There needs to be a renewed dialogue between our elected officials and the citizens they represent. How might we achieve this? I encourage all those that participate in this blog to engage us in this renewal. It's time to forge new alliances, it's time to engage each other in bringing about change, it's time to redirect the road we've followed for so many decades. Globally people are speaking out - including our own workers and fellow workers from around the world. We all speak the same language. Now it's time for those that make the laws listen. How might we achieve this, beyond marching in the streets? Let's hear your ideas.


Posted by Jessica Falker on April 10, 2006 at 07:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)