Hillary Clinton Telephone Town Hall

April 14, 2015

Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton threw her hat into the ring of Presidential Contenders. As the first Democrat to officially announce her candidacy, we are very excited! In fact, Hillary Clinton is no stranger to Control Point Group. Our founding partner Chad Gosselink has worked with her in the past. We are excited to give you a little peek inside the inner workings of Control Point Group to show you what we did with Ms. Clinton. 


In the political arena, the 2007 cycle seems like the Stone Ages. Think back and you may recall then -U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton’s ubiquitous campaign slogan, “conversation with America.” High-dollar donors expected their “face time” with Clinton, a big challenge for a traveling Presidential candidate. A telephone town hall proved the most efficacious medium for Clinton to “have a conversation with America” (or those Americans who would open their checkbooks) while on the campaign trail. Our goal was to maintain enthusiasm among donors by inviting them to a private conference call where we shared “exclusive insider details” about the campaign strategy with these major contributors. 


Minute-by-minute scheduling and the ability to implement multiple contingency plans are success-critical on a national campaign. We orchestrated a telephone town hall with the Presidential candidate, her National Field Director, and Deputy Campaign Director, where Clinton would break into the call already in progress as she was traveling between two in-person campaign events. Prior to the telephone town hall, our team worked with Clinton’s staff to coordinate a minute-by-minute agenda that addressed specific talking points that the campaign knew best resonated with our donor audience. Clinton’s handler had multiple cell phones from different carriers dialed into the call in case one lost signal as she was traveling. For the first fifteen minutes, the call went precisely as planned. Clinton was scheduled to call in on the 16th minute, but as it turned out, she was still on stage at an event with John Grisham. Our team was more than prepared, and executed three contingency plans until she was able to dial in. 


Our audience participation level was unprecedented. Telephone town halls are engineered for approximately a 5% participation rate. Original conversations had starting universes of 40,000, but as the event drew closer, this number dwindled to less than 1,000. We speculated the 5% participation rate would be low, so we kept the original plan to have it over-engineered. Even with the dramatic reduction in universe size, dial-in information spread rapidly among donors and twice the number of people we invited joined in the call. Not only was the participation rate higher than we had ever seen, donors and supporters overwhelmed the system that we thought we had over-engineered. On the fly, we reprogrammed our system to accommodate the massive influx of inbound callers. At the end of the call, we had hundreds of voicemails praising Clinton for her efforts to reach out to them. The audience participation rate ended up being approximately 50%. 


Our telephone town hall offers more standard features, including the ability to fundraise, ask questions live, and participate in a town hall poll. What made this a truly unique event was Clinton’s willingness to take questions live and engage the audience on a personal level resulting in almost 20% of participants entering the question queue. Her staff wanted to continue to cultivate supporters with the Deputy Campaign Manager asking participants to “press 1” if they would be willing to host an organizational meeting. Of the 584 people that answered the question, 30% answered affirmatively giving the campaign another 177 activists. We were able to enthuse her champions, arming them with the experience and hard evidence of a particular “Conversation with America”. We also received a very personal voicemail from a woman who credited Senator Clinton with helping save the life of her nephew. 


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