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Adrienne Royer 5 min read

Patch-Through Call Services – Finally Ready for Prime Time?

I love the concept of “patch-through” telephone call campaigns because it promises to help organizations empower their constituents to call their Members of Congress offices and directly express their position on important legislative bills. However, for many years these kinds of campaigns have been tricky – to say the least – to pull off successfully. For one thing, the staff time and budget it takes to run patch-through call campaigns can be overwhelming. You have to coach constituents effectively so they don’t end up stuttering and confused at the moment when they suddenly find themselves on the phone (thanks to you) with their Congressional office. Plus it’s difficult to measure results, because there aren’t many good reporting tools.

Click2Call, a new online tool that the folks at web development firm Advomatic have built on Drupal’s  open-source software platform, is the latest indication that patch-through call campaigns may finally be ready for prime time. Recent reports suggest that such campaigns have become a lot smoother -- with helpful reporting tools to boot. Groups ranging from SEIU to Health Care for America Now have been integrating Click2Call into some of their online advocacy programs.

Here’s how the Click2Call application works:

Step 1: A constituent clicks on a Click2Call link in an email blast that you’ve sent to them, or maybe in a blog post or page of your website;

Step 2: The link takes the constituent to a landing page with a form to enter their personal contact information, so that the system can match constituents up with their Members of Congress. Click here to check out Health Care for America Now’s Click2Call campaign as an example.

Step 3: Click2Call uses 3-way calling and VoIP to call the constituent and provide a customized script with instructions and suggestions on what the constituent should discuss with the Congressional staffer who responds to the phone call;

Step 4: The constituent is patched through to their Congressional office; and

Step 5: The constituent reports their Congressional member’s position on the follow-up website page.

In addition, Click2Call offers advanced reporting features and Google Analytics integration, enabling organizations to track how many calls were made, from what IP addresses and regions, and how long each call lasted.

“The power of this tool is similar to other new media tools that are changing advocacy – by removing barriers to entry,” says Julie Blitzer of Advomatic.

To hear some firsthand accounts from two leading online campaigners about their recent successes using Click2Call -- and other nifty phone-based tools such as “Tele-Town Halls” – in their advocacy campaigns, check out two short video clips below, featuring Barry Jackson of AARP (discussing his work on behalf of the DividedWeFail coalition). and Levana Layendecker, of the Healthcare for America Now coalition. Barry and Levana were the main speakers at a briefing breakfast organized by Care2, Amplify Public Affairs and The Hill Newspaper at the Newseum in Washington, where about 100 online advocacy professionals came to explore ways to improve online advocacy of healthcare reform in the Obama era.

What has been YOUR experience using patch-through call campaigns for YOUR organization? Let us know in the comments below, so we can learn from your successes (or mistakes)!

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