Interactive townhalls help the Georgia Chamber prioritize policy issues

Frustrated by the abysmal response rates of email, the Georgia Chamber hosted 25 townhalls across the state, using Poll Everywhere to collect and organize the concerns of business owners.

Jason Orouke

Interactive townhalls help the Georgia Chamber prioritize policy issues

Frustrated by the abysmal response rates of email, the Georgia Chamber hosted 25 townhalls across the state, using Poll Everywhere to collect and organize the concerns of business owners.

Jason O’Rouke is the Senior Director of Public Policy and Federal Affairs for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s goal: to focus their efforts on those issues that are of the utmost concern to Georgia’s business community.

How do you gather fast, actionable feedback from busy Georgia business owners?

Person using poll everyhwere via iphone

After about two years on the job, Jason was frustrated with the old methods the Chamber was using to gather feedback from their audience on important policy issues.

Those methods included live calling and a ton of emails, which produced a frustratingly small return. After sending about 30,000 emails, the Chamber was lucky to get 250 responses.

That’s not the sort of data set the Chamber can use to influence major policy decisions. For a task that important, the Chamber needs a lot more feedback and deeper analysis to make a compelling case to persuade policy makers.

Use polling to gather feedback while you already have their attention.

Room full of people responding to poll at townhall

The Chamber’s top leadership decided to go straight to the source, organizing townhalls across the state in a major visioning effort. Georgia 2030, as the events came to be known, consisted of about 25 townhall meetings all over the state. The audience: the thousands of Georgia businesses whose interests the Chamber represents.

Each event was about an hour long, with an average audience size of 100 to 150, but some ballooned to as many as 500 Georgia business owners.

Man responding to poll via ipad

Getting more specific with each round of polling

The Chamber started with general questions, then got more specific about policy. In the last round of feedback, they drilled down to focus on concerns that directly impact policy.

The Chamber CEO started the event with a short PowerPoint on state issues like changing demographics, job predictions and the general state of the Georgia economy. Then the polling kicked in with specific questions like how to close the insurance gap in the state or how many favored a state-wide minimum wage increase.

They’d just gotten done using the main survey, so the learning curve was gone.

Jason O’Rouke

After the general polling, the Chamber would hold focus groups on relevant topics like healthcare and education, pulling passionate business owners from those focus groups to get further feedback.

With those customers already engaged, Jason focused on explicitly asking Chamber members where policymakers should be focusing their efforts. Later, he compared that data with data that had already been collected from the general public. That’s an important step with big ramifications.

Jason gave a solid example. “Say you have a group of business owners who are 95 percent opposed to minimum wage increases, but a majority of the general public supports it. That changes your strategy knowing that you’re fighting an uphill battle with voters, but your membership is all-in on that fight.”

Back at the Chamber, Jason had a robust data file that represented the collective opinion of over 2,000 business owners in Georgia. The Chamber could then use the data they collected to more effectively weigh in on public policy initiatives. Those efforts might shape the Chamber’s efforts for as many as five to fifteen years to come.

Our staff could take what we found back to our leadership and we could say, ‘This is what business owners care about. This is going to be our number one priority for the next five years.’

Jason O’Rouke

After the townhall, some intrigued chamber members approached Jason, all asking a variant of the same question: “We’re having a board meeting soon, and we want to use something like this. What was that service again?”

It’s Poll Everywhere.

How can you do this?

Step 1

Create your free Poll Everywhere account

Step 2

To maximize turnout, consider resurrecting legacy events at your company, especially if you already have an email list of potential customers to invite.

Step 3

Prepare your survey questions. If you have a previous data set, use that to shape your questions, so that the two data sets provide relevant but potentially contrasting data.

Step 4

Install the Poll Everywhere add-in to add your surveys to your PowerPoint presentation.

Step 5

No need to activate your surveys - if you use fullscreen mode while presenting, they’ll automatically activate as soon as you reach the survey slide.

Step 6

Use Poll Everywhere’s reporting feature to compare your collected data with old data sets.