Tips for Effective Candidate Forums Jennifer Gale, River Heights Chamber of Commerce Daron Van Heldon, Burnsville Chamber of Commerce “Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty.” Thomas Jefferson Kinds of Forums • Luncheon/Dinner • Television show • Print media forum (newsletter, web, direct mail) • Meet and Greet • Other? Set a Date • In selecting a date, think about scheduling it near another community event that makes it more likely that the candidate will be in the home district/area. Day before or day after works best. Inviting the Candidates • Groups who want candidates for elected office to attend their local event often find it hard to get a commitment from the candidates. • So…the more focus you put on getting people besides the candidates to attend, mainly voters and press, the more likely it is that the candidates will come. Inviting Candidates cont. • Reference your crowd – emphasize your broad base of members. • Let the candidate know about all the media outlets that are invited. • Use the candidate’s opposition. Let them know the status of their opponents – they have been invited and when they are confirmed to attend. Start Building a Crowd • Set a turnout goal. • Brainstorm a list of possible audiences. (members, other associations that support your issues or other Chambers) • Coordinate marketing materials and press releases. • RSVP’s a must! Note: • In order for your candidate forum to comply with the law, you must invite ALL the candidates from every major party for each race and pursue commitments from them with equal diligence. Continue to Recruit Attendees Ask members and area partners to: 1. Attend the forum themselves. 2. Bring two additional people with them. 3. Promote the forum in their newsletter. 4. Send an e-mail alert to their members/employees. 5. Thank them for their help! Questionnaires • Send it out ahead of time. • Publish the responses. • Share it with other like organizations. • It can be used to develop questions for the forum. Send out a Notice • Press Release • Newsletter article • Event Flyer • Website Notice Day of Event • Secure volunteers to help • Review format • Set up seating assignments • Test all AV Equipment • Have script ready • Welcome candidates Publish Set of Rules • Assigned seats? • Allotted time for intro? • Process for time keeper? • How will the questions be asked and how much response time will be given? • Will the questions rotate? • Closing comment time? Thank You • Thank all candidates personally. • Take a photo for your publications. • Send a thank you note to all sponsors, volunteers and candidates.
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