Technology has changed significantly over the last ten years, but the way we communicate has not. Conversations over the telephone remain the most effective way to connect. Other forms of communication— texting, emails, social media— have been integrated into telephones as accessories, not as alternatives that supersede them. Telephones provide a fundamental human link that cannot be replicated through text. It is this quality that sets Tele-Town Hall apart as a primary form of outreach for Capitol Hill.
The effectiveness of telephone outreach was recently discussed in an article in Roll Call entitled “Enhance Trust in Congress Through Improved Tele-Town Halls®.” In this piece, writer Bradford Fitch looked at a study where 13 members of Congress conducted Tele-Town Halls® and political scientists measured participant’s attitudes. They reported their attitudes before and after each event, and also compared them to a control group. The results were quite revealing:
- Prior to the meeting, 38 percent of participants trusted the member of Congress to do the right thing ‘all or most of the time.’ After the meeting, 52 percent would agree with that statement.
- More participants described the legislator as “accessible” after the Tele-Town Hall®— 80 percent, compared to 48 percent of the control group.
- 82 percent said he/she was ‘fair’ compared to 54 percent of the control group.
- Participants’ approval rating of the legislator went from 20 percent to 58 percent.
Why were these Tele-Town Halls® so effective? Fitch suggests that audience participation and candid responses made for a more authentic experience. “Constituents were allowed to ask any question as long as it was on topic and wasn’t duplicative or offensive, and the member responded in real time. Their responses to constituents were not previously prepared, which prevented citizens from feeling like they were being spoon-fed talking points.”
Ultimately, there are a thousand ways to talk at your constituents, but Tele-Town Halls® is the only method that allows you to talk with them. Telephones are not the newest technology on the market, but there is a reason why they predominate the way we communicate. They allow us to connect. New technology will come and go, but real conversations will never be antiquated.