Put a “Chief Engagement Officer” together with a good plan, a strong team and 25,000 REALTORSâ in The Volunteer State of Tennessee and what do you get? For starters, you get one of the highest response rates in the shortest amount of time on the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ latest flood insurance Call for Action.
“It’s amazing what you can do when you put a good plan to work,” says Tennessee REALTORS® President Brian Copeland. “Last December, I worked with my volunteer leaders and our amazing staff, to put together a full strategic plan, including a detailed advocacy outline with benchmarks to be met throughout the year,” explains Copeland, who breezily lives up to his title of Chief Engagement Officer for Village Real Estate Services in Nashville.
Of course, one of those benchmarks was to get at least 20 percent of his members to respond to every NAR Call for Action. They did just that. In the three weeks that it was active, nearly 27 percent of Tennessee REALTORS® responded, asking Congress to reform and extend the National Flood Insurance Program, which was due to expire at the end of September. (Congress passed an extension of the program that was signed into law, September 8.)
“We hit the decks running,” adds Jennifer Farrar, Tennessee REALTORS® Governmental Affairs Director. “I’ve only been the GAD here for seven months and I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such an energetic and ambitious team. We all worked together at the state and local levels to make this happen.”
Farrar explains that Tennessee REALTORS® prepared to succeed by heavily promoting REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts, which allows REALTORS® to receive text messages on their mobile phones about Calls for Action and respond to them on the spot. “We had about 2,000 subscribers at the end of July. By the time the Call for Action went live on August 22, we had almost 4,000. This went a long way toward getting our members to engage, and engage fast,” she says.
Tennessee REALTORS® also made extensive use of social media, creating a state landing page for members to take action and share graphics on their Facebook and Twitter pages. The association also ran ads on Facebook using special tracking tools, allowing them to see who and when members responded.
Copeland and Farrar both attribute much of the high response rate to their “Leader Boards,” where they showed each local association’s progress at the end of the day. “It was like a Jerry Lewis Telethon, where our members got excited to see their progress at the end of each day,” Copeland says.
At 5:15 each evening, Copeland would send a text to each local association’s president and president-elect with two charts—one showing the overall Call for Action progress for each association and the other showing the one-day gains. Then, at 5:30, these leader boards would be made public to the rest of the membership.
“This sparked even more REALTORS® to respond,” Copeland says. “When REALTORSâ got home in the evening and saw where their association stood, it got them to take action.”
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the devastation left in their paths, reminded Tennessee REALTORS® of the massive flooding across their own state seven years ago when nearly 14 inches of rain fell in 36 hours. Across the state, more than 11,000 properties were damaged, 10,000 people were displaced, 400 businesses closed and 26 people died.
In fact, Hagan Stone, past president of the Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS®, made a video, which was posted on the Tennessee REALTORS® website, describing how his own family’s home was damaged during that flood in May 2010. The video urged REALTORS® to respond to the Call for Action; and consider donating to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation to help the people who lost homes from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
“Any connection to humanity inspires people to act, and here in the Volunteer State, that connection is strong,” Copeland adds.
Copeland “upped the ante” by using his personal Facebook page to make the connection between REALTORSâ helping others and REALTORS® advocating for policies to help future flooding victims. He offered to donate $1 to the REALTOR® Relief Foundation for every screenshot of a completed Call for Action response members posted to him. More than 300 REALTORS® took him up on the offer.
In the end, 15 of Tennessee’s 21 local associations had response rates of 20 percent or higher, three had 15 percent or higher and three had 10 percent or higher.
Even the smaller local associations got involved in promoting the Call for Action. In fact, the 230-member Bristol Tennessee/Virginia Association of REALTORS®, made a video getting its members to respond.
Tennessee REALTORS®’ 27 percent response rate was the highest among large state associations. See the state-by-state response rates.
“Our goal is to inspire and keep the momentum going here in Tennessee and to inspire other state associations to plan for strong participation in NAR’s advocacy efforts. Never underestimate the power of a good plan,” he says.
For more information about Tennessee REALTORS® advocacy plan and Call for Action success, contact Jennifer Farrar, the Tennessee REALTORS® Governmental Affairs Director at (615) 321-1477 or (877) 321-1477.