The advocacy team at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers had impressive plans to mobilize members in a pivotal election year with a multi-state bus tour. They hit a roadblock and worked quickly to keep the momentum going—virtually.
The expression “the show must go on” has always exemplified American resilience and determination. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers had to muster its own version of that steely resolve when its highly anticipated cross-country grassroots bus tour, the “2020 Manufacturing Express,” had to quickly morph from a multi-state, in-person event to a virtual one.
Staff at AEM closely monitored the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and determined that the best decision to make, with the safety of their members top of mind, was to postpone the bus tour until 2021.
It was not easy to pivot from a dramatic live event—complete with a brand-new, custom Ford F-150 pickup truck grand prize—to a digital campaign. Kip Eideberg, AEM’s senior vice president of government and industry relations, said it would have been impossible without the close consultation and support of AEM member companies, who were instrumental in determining how to move forward. Such a shift, Eideberg said, “has to be a true partnership with your members.”
The “Equipped to Vote” digital campaign will launch in August. It is designed to educate, engage, and mobilize the nearly 3 million people who make up the equipment manufacturing industry on the policies that matter to the industry, encourage greater civic engagement, and help elect pro-manufacturing candidates.
“Hopefully, they will feel like they are part of a bigger movement and are all working together to support the industry,” Eideberg said.
AEM looked back on previous get-out-the-vote initiatives to build the new one, including a popular event-in-a-box campaign. In the past, AEM sent out large boxes to participating members filled with promotional posters, hats, water bottles, and other giveaways to build buzz for the events and a self-contained how-to guide to help members stage their own local events.
“Equipped to Vote” will feature a 2020 online election center with tools and resources, interactive programming, and educational games for supporters to test their knowledge and win prizes. AEM will also reprise the event-in-a-box component, and participating member companies can choose to do both elements or just one.
“We hope it will be a hybrid—a heavily digital campaign that still has a strong in-person element to it,” Eideberg said.
He added that the main goals of the digital campaign are to encourage as many supporters as possible to take the pledge to vote in November and to lend nonpartisan support to pro-manufacturing candidates for the House and Senate.
“We want to make sure that everyone understands that the policies and decisions made in Washington impact their lives,” Eideberg said. “Not only their jobs, but the health and well-being of their communities.