Real Justice Texting Team Guide

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Welcome, and thank you for being a part of our team! Real Justice is a grassroots organization supported by a lot of volunteers and a small staff that focus on empowering those volunteers to bring about criminal justice reform through action, education, and helping to elect progressive District Attorneys. All of us, volunteers and staff alike, are working hard to make Real Justice even more successful. Your patience as we build the movement is much appreciated. If you see somewhere you can help make things better and want to help, let us know!

Table of Contents

Overview

Volunteer Standards

Our Tools

Getting Started

Links to Bookmark

Step 1: Getting a Texting Assignment

Step 2: Starting a Texting Assignment
        Step 3: Managing Replies

(Optional): Phone/Tablet View

Texting FAQs

Overview

The Real Justice Texting Team uses a web-based tool called ThruText to send individualized, “person-to-person” text messages about events, actions, and other important resistance information. While recipients receive the messages through their cell phones (just like any other text message) you’ll use the ThruText website to send messages to hundreds of people in just a few minutes, using a number local to the textees.

But this isn’t just about sending lots of text messages. The Texting Team is about having real, person-to-person, text-based conversations that help people figure out how to plug into the Real Justice program, and create change locally. If that sounds like a big deal, that’s because IT IS! But don’t worry: It’s easy to learn and really fun once you get going! This guide will walk you through everything you need to know.

Volunteer Standards

Below you’ll find our volunteer standards. We expect that as a Texting Team volunteer, you abide by the following standards:

Be polite, always. Keep in mind that all messages we send out are a representation of the Real Justice PAC. Assume that any controversial exchange could be the next big news story and have a negative effect on the texting campaign and RJP. Anyone could screenshot our conversations and send them to a reporter out of context. Please keep your responses kind and professional.

Never argue. As stated above, we don’t want to text anything that could be taken the wrong way. We also need to keep in mind that we will likely not be changing the minds of those who are against us. Some non-supporters will want to argue back and forth. For these instances, it’s ok to simply tell them you appreciate their input and wish them a nice day.

Be honest. No one expects you to be an expert on criminal justice reform. If you get a question about policies or issues, consult the Real Justice FAQ sheet. Our #texting_team Slack community is also a great place to ask questions if a voter asks you a question you cannot answer. If someone pushes you to give them more information, push them to our website, a candidate’s website or have them email us at info@realjusticepac.org. Do not spread false or misleading information.

We cannot offer anything transactional for support and votes. Sometimes, people will ask you to offer them something for their vote (I’ll vote for whoever pays me most”, “if you send me your phone number, he’s got my vote”, “send a t-shirt to my house and I’ll vote for your candidate”, etc). We cannot offer people anything for their vote, even in a joking way. Be sure to approach these situations with caution and respond with something such as, “I definitely can’t do that but I think you should vote for our candidate because they are definitely the best person running. Can I help answer any questions about their platform for you?”

Stick to the script. We want real interactions and one-on-one conversations with voters. We are however looking for certain information to be answered with each texting assignment. Please review the survey questions and recommended replies for every shift prior to starting so you know what we’re looking for. Send the appropriate replies. You can always edit the replies to fit the conversation, but please try to not veer too far off script.

Maintain confidentiality. As a volunteer with the Texting Team you will have access to private voter information. (names, phone numbers, addresses, email, the occasional over-sharer...etc). Please do not screenshot or share conversations with friends outside the team or leave texts open on your devices in public. As stated above, we don’t want this information to be used against us or to negatively impact the campaign.

Our Tools

We use a few different “tools” (websites) to power our team:

ThruText: The texting website (where the texting happens)

Slack: Our online office, where you can connect with staff and other volunteers in real-time.

Calendly: Website to sign up for texting shifts

Getting Started

To get started texting please complete the following:

  1. Read our Texting Guide (this document!)
  2. Watch the ThruText Training Video
  3. Take the texting team quiz (you will only be able to text if you have taken the quiz!)
  4. Create a Real Justice Slack account to receive important updates and assignments/  New to Slack? Check out their Getting Started Guide.
  5. Create your account on ThruText
  6. Schedule a texting shift on Calendly.
  7. Fill out this form to let us know you’ve completed all the steps!

Once you've done the above, hop into the #texting_team channel on Slack and say hello, or ask any questions about how to get set up!

Once you are in Slack and have your Relay account, the next step is to schedule your first shift (keep reading to find out how)!

Links to Bookmark

Texting Team Links

Relay (texting site)

http://realjustice.relaytxt.io/client

Calendly (scheduling shifts)

https://calendly.com/realjusticepac/all-volunteer-teams 

Slack (team communication)

https://realjustice.slack.com/

General Links

Real Justice Website

https://realjusticepac.org/

Real Justice Candidate Endorsements
https://realjusticepac.org/endorsements/

Step 1: Getting a Texting Assignment

You can sign up to text on a specific day at https://calendly.com/realjusticepac/all-volunteer-teams Don’t worry if you aren’t available for the whole day! Most texters spend less than an hour sending all of their initial messages and managing the immediate replies. Replies will also trickle in for around 48 hours after you send the initial messages, so please plan on being available to manage those replies for about 15 minutes in the two days after your assignment. Be sure to make a note of the days you have booked, as Calendly doesn’t track that for you. If you are unable to watch your replies over the subsequent hours, please just let an admin know by posting in the texting team channel.

Assignments are not given out immediately upon signing up. There is a manual process that staff and volunteers go through on the back end of Relay to set up assignments. When your assignment is ready, you’ll be pinged in the #texting_team channel of our Slack. “Pinged” just means that we’ll include your username in the assignment announcement so that Slack alerts you to the message. In Slack, take a minute to make sure you have "Mentions of my name or highlight words" turned on in Notifications. That way you will know when you receive a texting assignment. Log into Relay to see your Assignments list, and click on the relevant assignment’s name to get started.

Step 2: Starting a Texting Assignment
When you’ve received an assignment, open up Relay, click on the campaign and review the initial message to make sure there are no typos or missing information. Relay should auto-fill certain portions in each message such as your First name and the contact’s name. If everything looks good, then click on the “Send” button to the right of the initial message. Continue clicking “Send” until you’ve gone through your list of recipients, it takes just a few minutes to send hundreds of messages.

Step 3: Managing Replies

Once you’ve sent all of your initial messages, you can begin managing the replies that you’ve received. Note: you must send out all of your initial messages before you can view your replies. Managing your replies has three components:  

Marking “Survey Questions”

Every campaign will have one or more “Survey Questions,” which show up on the right hand side of your Relay screen. The Survey Questions are the data that we want you to collect based on the conversation. For example, if we are inviting someone to an event, the first Survey Question might be “Can they attend the event?” If someone says yes, simply mark them down as a Yes for that question. Your survey should reflect your text conversation. You do not need to mark every answer in the survey -- just the ones that reflect your conversation.

Writing Replies

Once you’ve recorded the survey response(s), you’ll want to send a reply back. Always start by using the Recommended Replies (below the list of survey questions) in Relay to help guide your conversation, but feel free to tweak these as needed for individual conversations. Please employ respect and kindness in every message you send. All text messages should reflect the values of our organization, and respect for differences between us and the people we communicate with.

Handling Opt Outs

Occasionally one of your texting contacts will want to be removed from our texting list. Some of these requests will will just say “STOP” or “UNSUBSCRIBE.” No matter the reason, we are obligated to follow through with their request. Whenever someone wants us to stop texting, you should click on the “Opt Out” button in the top right corner of the screen. Not honoring opt-out requests shines a negative light on our efforts, and it also creates a legal liability for the team.

We only opt people out if they have specifically and explicitly asked not to be texted again. You should also opt people out if they are a minor, or if they are being vulgar or profane in their communication with you. Please note that once you click this button, you won’t be able to send any further messages to that person. So if they said “I don’t want to be texted anymore but send the signup link,” you should send them the link first and then opt them out immediately after.


(Optional): Phone/Tablet View

If you’re using Relay on your phone or tablet, Relay will look slightly different. To access everything that’s in the right-hand pane, tap on “Tools” in the upper right corner of the screen. 


Texting FAQs

What if I don’t have a texting plan for my phone?

That’s no problem! Since we use a website to send our texts, your own cell phone doesn’t get charged for anything, and no one will ever see your phone number. Relay asks for your phone number when you sign up so that you can call your texting contacts if you get into a conversation that you would like to continue via a voice call (and this happens only if you choose to initiate a call).

Can I use Relay on my smartphone? Is there an app?

As long as your phone can connect to the internet (either over data or wi-fi) then yes, you can use Relay on your phone! You can log in as you normally would by going to https://realjustice.relaytxt.io in your phone’s browser. There isn’t an app, you’ll just use the browser. To make it easier to get back to Relay, you can bookmark that page on your phone.

When can I text?

We only send text messages between the local time of the recipients 9am to 9pm. For example, if we are texting into Los Angeles, CA, the campaign is accessible between 9 AM and 9 PM Pacific Time. Relay will not let you text outside of these hours. Some campaigns may be to people all over the country in which case we will be texting from 12pm EST to 9pm. Please be sure to come back the following day to answer responses that came in overnight.

How will I know I have an assignment?

You’ll receive a notification in Slack when your assignment is ready. Make sure your notifications are turned on in Slack so you don't miss your assignment notification. You can check to see if you missed a notification by clicking the "@" symbol at the top right of the screen. And if you haven’t signed up for a shift, you can request texts by posting in the #texting_team channel on Slack.

What if I need more help answering a specific reply?

First, please take a look at the Real Justice FAQ sheet to see if the answer to your question is in there. You can also review the past two days in the "texting-team" channel in Slack to see if the question has been answered. If the answer isn’t in the FAQ document for the candidate you’re texting for, please post your question in the #texting_team channel of our Slack group for real-time communication with staff and other volunteers.


"What if I lose a textee when I'm in the middle of a texting conversation or haven't completed the survey yet?"

As soon as you send a reply to a recipient, their name drops to the top of your answered conversations. Scroll down to where the blue dots in front of names end to the first name without a blue dot. {A picture here makes more sense]. You will then be able to continue your conversation -- or complete the survey -- with that person.

How do I remove someone from our texting list?

Click “Opt Out” near the top right corner while on that person’s message. A reminder that we only opt people out if they have specifically and explicitly asked not to be texted again, or if they are a minor, or if they are using vulgar or profane language.

What if someone just replies STOP or UNSUBSCRIBE?

Click “Opt Out” near the top right corner while on that person’s message.

What if someone complains about getting too many texts?

Apologize and ask if they want to be removed from the texting list.

A message went to a wrong number, what now?

Send the “Wrong Number” recommended reply! We have had some amazing conversations with voters that started out as a wrong number. Don’t opt out a wrong number unless they ask that you stop texting them.

Where did we get their number?
If you are texting voters to talk about a Real Justice endorsed candidate, we most likely got their information from the state voter file - the publicly accessible list of registered voters in the county that campaigns use to do outreach. If you are texting about an organizing task/event, we most likely got their number from them signing up on our website. If you are not sure - you can always just ask the texting team lead! There is almost always a recommended reply to answer the question.

What should I do if a text contact tries to call me through Relay?

If you’re comfortable with calling them back, then definitely do so! You can click the callback button within your Relay conversation. This will connect the two of you on a phone call without revealing your phone number to the contact. Relay will automatically call you on its own phone number, then it will call the contact from the same number, and finally it will join the two calls together. If you are not comfortable, you can ask a volunteer leader or Real Justice organizer to handle the conversation.

How can I close out a conversation that doesn’t need another response from me?

Click the “Archive” button near the top right corner while in that conversation to hide it from your Relay screen, but only AFTER you’ve marked the applicable survey questions and responded. Don’t worry - if the person replies again, it’ll pop right back up like any other reply!

Note: Do not click “Archive” just to temporarily hide a conversation from your screen - you won’t be able to access that conversation again until the contact replies (which they might not if they were asking a question).

What if I have a technical problem with Relay, or a suggestion for how Relay works?

Please post in the #texting_team channel on our Slack! Our team knows lots of tricks and tips for how to work Relay, and if they can’t fix the issue, they’ll contact Relay support to address your problem.

What if someone wants to recommend a candidate to Real Justice PAC?

If someone recommends a candidate, suggest that they email us at info@realjusticepac.org

Please note: As a Real Justice activist, you don’t represent Real Justice as an organization. You represent your own causes as a concerned constituent and community stakeholder. This is critical to our strength as a movement: If anyone is looking for a comment about a formal Real Justice position, you can refer them to info@realjusticepac.org and we can contact the appropriate Real Justice staffer.

Paid for by Real Justice PAC, realjusticepac.org, not authorized by any federal, state, or local candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.