Mario Cooper, senior vice president of PR firm Porter/Novelli, advises: “Database management companies can provide you with incredibly detailed mailing lists segmented by almost any factor you can imagine.” Once identified potential supporters have to be persuaded to agree to endorse the corporate view being promoted.
Specialists in this form of organising use opinion research data to “identify the kinds of themes most likely to arouse key constituent groups, then gear their telemarketing pitches around those themes.”
Telephone polls in particular enable rapid feedback so that the pitch can be refined: “With phones you’re on the phones today, you analyze your results, you can change your script and try a new thing tomorrow. In a three-day program you can make four or five different changes, find out what’s really working, what messages really motivate people, and improve your response rates.” Focus groups also help with targeting messages.
Demographic information, election results, polling results and lifestyle clusters can all be combined to identify potential supporters by giving information about people’s age, income, marital status, gender, ethnic background, the type of car they drive and the type of music they like. These techniques which were originally developed for marketing products to selected audiences, are now used to identify likely political attitudes and opinions. In this way the coalition builders don’t have to waste their time on people who are unlikely to be persuaded and at the same time different arguments can be used for different types of people.