Business Articles

The Politics of Calling

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

With the fall elections in the United States now in our rear-view mirror, we can now take a calmer look at what happened. In the days preceding the election, more than one person shared with me their eagerness for the voting to come to a conclusion. Quite succinctly, their common refrain was, “I’m sick of all political commercials—and especially the phone calls.”

Here are some of my observations:

  • Unlike in the past, I did not receive one live call. Not even a “don’t forget to vote” reminder.
  • The number of recorded messages I received this year, far outpaced the total number of automated and live calls during past campaigns.
  • My mother, part of the senior citizen demographic, received about three times the number of automated political calls that I received.
  • People do not understand why they receive these calls when they are on the “Do Not Call” (DNC) list—and they are angry about it. (Our self-serving elected officials conveniently exempted themselves from the DNC legislation.)
  • My wife’s common response is to lay the receiver down (or put the call on hold) and walk away. It’s her small way of retaliation.
  • I never listened to more than a few seconds of a single robo call I received.

Therefore, our politicians calls should consider:

  • Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right. Check numbers against the DNC list when making political calls. Those who signed up did so for a reason. Calling them will only make them mad, cause them to assume you or your client are breaking the law, or both.
  • Don’t overcall people. Even if you have them donations to call the same number multiple times, don’t do it—especially not on the same day!
  • Don’t mislead people and do provide responsible discloser. Email messages must contain legitimate subject lines; print and broadcast ads must state who paid for the ad; and mailed messages have their own content requirements. Apply these reasonable and accepted practices to recorded messages—people have grown to expect this from other channels, provide it on calls as well.

Given the electorate’s outcry over robo calls, specifically, and political calling, in general, we can expect the practice will come under greater scrutiny. To address this, our elected officials will adopt a more regulatory attitude towards telemarketing and robo calling, even though they, in part, contributed to the problem, causing some of the exact voter angst they are seeking to appease.