Thursday, March 15, 2007

New Media, Old Media & the Rise of the Technology Candidate

How do you develop a message and prepare your candidate for the new "prime time?" Is it all about using cool new toys, or is it strategy? What do you say to the new media audience? Join our panel of experts as they present their ideas for winning in a new media environment.

Mike Connell - Founder, Connell - Donatelli Inc.
Robert Boorstin - Director of Corporate & Policy Communications, Google Inc.
Jeffrey Charles Crigler - CEO, Voxant
David Mark - Senior Editor, The Politico
Chris Cillizza - Political Blogger, WashingtonPost - Newsweek Interactive (Moderator)

David– He stated that he believes that technology is very important for campaigns, due to the increasing focus/narrowcasting that candidates are using. There is still a large amount of TV advertising, but now iPods, Blackberrys, Internet ads, etc. are being targeted; especially negative campaigning. David went on to say that he believes Republicans found out in the last election cycle that the Internet is very important when the Democrats targeted people very well. The Republicans didn’t have a compelling-enough message, while the Democrats used Mark Foley / Iraq to cancel out what the Republicans said (and they often had no comeback).

Jeff – Voxant is a huge supporter of viral distribution. Jeff believes that YouTube is too large of an audience, thus making it very difficult to narrowcast. Voxant, however, uses video embed code on websites that when posted, it can be reposted over and over again. They embed a “mash” button on the video border, so that each person can click the “mash” button and (assuming they’re registered for the site) can reuse that exact video on their site.

Bob – Bob discussed what technology has/hasn’t changed in politics. He agreed with David that no matter what tools you have, you need a specific message with a reputable candidate that can hold it up. He went on to say that you must be consistent – if you’re not, your campaign will falter, if not die. Technology makes authenticity a lot more important -- your campaign is judged in the media through personal relationships; not e-mail or telephone. He also said that with the new technologies, it is very difficult to control your message / not be manipulated by bloggers (i.e. the Drudge Report).

Mike – Mike believes that mobile technology is very important – i.e. SMS (text messaging). In 2000, Slovenia had the first campaign to use SMS technology into a voter mobilization effort. A South Korean election was won due to text messages, and a South African petition campaign was also held through SMS. Mike works on the Dick DeVoss vs. Jennifer Granholm Michigan Governor campaign. There is a large demand for new jobs (specifically technological) in Michigan, and he wanted to show that Dick was technologically advanced through innovative methods. For example, you could learn more // donate on the go by texting “Jobs” to 55555 or “Donate” to 55555. A cell-phone user can also forward SMS messages to friends, buy wallpapers and ringtones, or access their mobile website (.mobi). Connell - Donatelli Inc. launched a “create your own ad; win a video iPod!” campaign as well, which earned national media coverage and very positive press for DeVoss’s campaign. Mike stated that Americans don’t want pure marketing delivered to their phone, but they do want access to information, applications and services.

Question – There’s 400+ web browsers out there; how do you deal with the differentiation of the platforms?
Answer –We have a lot to do with mobile marketing; there are industry / regulatory / technological challenges, but at the end of the day most people have a mobile device on them which is crucial for targeting (if not now, then in the near future). In 1992, the first real Presidential Internet political campaign; 1996 was the state-level; we’ll get there eventually. The majority of people still use land lines, whereas in other countries they hardly even have any so mobile phones are that more important for targeting. India right now has 400,000,000 mobile phone users – imagine how big of an impact that will have!

Question – Does mobile donation mess with federal donation laws?
Answer – There’s not so much of a compliance issue; there’s a clear trail that shows that money is going directly to campaign, but you do have to get specific information from donor to allow for compliance.

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