TeleForum™ by Broadnet- The Guinness World Record holder for largest conference call in history
TeleForum™ technology is a new electronic public relations software that previously was used almost exclusively by members of Congress in Washington D.C. to build name-recognition in their Congressional Districts, and maintain contact with constituents. In the height of election season 2008, TeleForum™ technology was expanded to promote state and local candidates. By early 2009, it started being used at the city, town and county levels. It is being promoted by political advocacy and PR firms, like New West Public Affairs in Colorado, as as an electronic "town hall meeting," that can be used to disseminate information and/or as a way to influence public opinion at the local level. 
How it works
TeleForum™ technology uses patented software and a web-based interface to set up a live, mass telephone conference among large numbers of people simultaneously. The software is capable of dialing [millions] of targeted phone numbers at one time, and sends a customized recorded phone message to each person answering the phone asking them to join a live, ongoing teleconference simply by pushing a number on their telephone keypad. Calls that get routed to voice mail receive a separate message detailing a reason for the call, so no opportunity for contact is missed. A single moderator can limit or expand the focus of the conversation, and selectively allow pre-screened participants to speak (or not) "based on the desired direction of the forum," permitting those moderating the call to control the point of view and regulate input into the forum. Participants are kept on mute throughout the call. Participants who want to ask a question are instructed to push a numeric button on their keypad, which places them in a queue for a response from a screener. Screeners can then interview questioners and rate participants' questions numerically, "based on their impression of the value that participant will add to the forum."
Call hosts can conduct real-time polling by asking participants questions and instructing them to press numbers on their telephone keypads that indicate which pre-determined response they prefer. Responding outside the pre-determined answers is not facilitated.
Phony caller ID
Typically the caller ID on a TeleForum™ call indicates that the call originates from a toll-free 800 number, which the literature about the program says can alienate participants. A TeleForum™ client can also mask that number and substitute a local phone number or the text of their choice -- such as the name of the host -- in the caller-ID readout.
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Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Link to audio of Mesa County, Colorado's "Town Hall" Teleforum call, Saturday, February 21, 2009
- Press release about Mesa County, Colorado's "Town Hall" Teleforum citing organizer New West Public Affairs.