The US elections always brings into sharp focus the strategies deployed by the political class to win votes and secure positions in government. The last two US elections that saw former President Obama’s and President Trump accent to the highest office in America and arguably the world had many pundits dissect communications and fundraising strategies looking for their secret sauce. With our elections on in under a year, it is about time we looked at the possible channels of engagement and what other things can be part of a formidable technology plan to push any agenda.
Running a campaign that has measurable impact means creating connections that matter with the electorate and also those who will be moving into the voting bracket. Rate cards at traditional media houses – tv, radio and print tend to rise in anticipation of the windfall that comes with campaign madness. Outside the generic slogans and jingles those seeking elective posts must build legitimate connections that would empower them to converse and articulate their issues to a captive audience. This should be ground zero.
We have data on what issues irk the citizenry and this goes to a granular level. With eminent caps by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission under the subsidiary legislation “The Election Campaign Financing Regulations, 2016” contestants to the various thrones will have to look toward data to provide better targeted communication and “promises” as one size does not fit all and the opportunity to grab mindshare should not be passed. The “3 piece” push may not work for an increasingly discerning population.
A peek into the quarterly sector statistics report for the fourth quarter for the financial year 2015-2016 from the Communications Authority of Kenya shows that mobile penetration increased to 90.0 per cent with 38.3 million subscriptions, mobile money subscriptions hit – 26.3 million and in the data segment, subscriptions rose by 8.2 percent to reach 26.8 million. It is therefore a no brainer that mobile first should be at the heart of any election strategy, looking to reaching at least 80 percent of the nation’s varied voting blocs. SMS shortcodes, USSD engagements, voice interactions, mobile money leverage, plain jane email, instant messaging and mobile apps can come together in bespoke solutions to deliver hitherto unprecedented value for parties, contestants and even the electorate.
The Communications Authority and mobile network operators have regulations and policies that must be adhered to, with my single safeguard advice being auditable interactions. Steer clear of purchased lists, whether its mobile numbers or email addresses as you can easily attract heavy fines or even jail time in contravention of best practice.
Play smart, play well.