Why GOTV is the New CSR: Six Voter Turnout Ideas to Enhance Your Brand

face masks on mail in ballots 2020 election

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With the 2020 elections already underway in many states, we’re tracking a very interesting trend here at Comprise: there’s been a growing number of media stories on the ways that companies are encouraging voter turnout. Reporters are eager to cover new story angles on this year’s election cycle, and right now, there’s a nation-wide emphasis on how to safely get out the vote, better known as GOTV.

In the last two weeks alone, there have been dozens of articles across national and trade media on company initiatives that have promoted GOTV. Examples include giving employees Election Day off, organizing poll watchers and facilitating mail-in ballot applications, with an increasing number of companies publicly sharing their intentions and actions. For these companies in the spotlight, it’s an opportunity to raise brand awareness and strengthen relationships with customers and employees—and rightfully so.

And as it turns out, company leadership in facilitating voter turnout can be substantial. One of the reasons why the 2018 elections had the highest voter turnout of any midterm election in the last century can be linked to enhanced GOTV efforts by companies, according to the Harvard Business Review.

In looking through the media coverage of such examples, it’s clear there are other benefits too. As any HR professional would counsel, employees want to work at companies that walk the talk. These stories let companies affirm their corporate values, which can have huge consequences for employee recruitment and retention. And remember: employees love to brag about how great their company is.

Encouraging voter turnout doesn’t have to be elaborate or carry hard costs. Below are a few of the best practices we’ve seen that are generating media exposure for participating companies.

6 Ways Your Company Can Encourage Employees and Customers to Vote

Keep It Nonpartisan.

Keeping the information nonpartisan is the best way to strengthen democracy, not to mention avoid unnecessary political fights. Passing on important voting information shouldn’t be political.

Make It Real.

Publicly commit to specific GOTV actions, and share them with your email lists, LinkedIn, blog and/or Slack channels. This not only creates a larger digital footprint, it also gives stakeholders an opportunity to share your announcement more broadly with an even bigger audience. And if the announcement is big enough, definitely consider a press release.

Share Voter Registration Information.

Each state has its own rules and deadlines, and it’s never been easier to share GOTV information. We love this tool compiled by the New York Times that provides crucial information on a state-by-state basis, including mail-in ballot application process and deadlines, voter registration, elections laws, polling locations and more.

Utilize Your Website’s Homepage.

Create a button on your homepage and link to a resource like Vote.org where your site visitors can check their registration, register to vote, find polling locations and review voting deadlines and rules for their state. Vote.org also offers several free tools allowing you to embed voter resources directly on your site, if you’re keen to keep visitors on your domain and customize their experience with your own brand.

Use PTO for Good.

Providing PTO for employees to vote, volunteer as a poll watcher or other election-related duties is one of the biggest opportunities to generate earned media right now. Here are a few examples of how companies are offering to incentivize employees who volunteer at the polls on Election Day.

Help the Helpers.

Schools aren’t the only institutions that have a shortage of basic supplies. Local election boards are in urgent need of pens, paper towels, duct tape, tables and chairs. And COVID-19 has made additional supplies necessary too: hand sanitizer, plexiglass barriers, face masks and other sanitary equipment. If your company has a stockpile of unused office supplies sitting in your empty offices, reach out to your election officials to see if they could use supplies.

Whether your company is looking to get some quick PR, remain competitive with peer companies or simply save the fate of the universe, leveraging one or a few of these trends will help your company stand out and give you something to cheer about. And as a reminder, Election Day is November 3.

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