Technology has reshaped entire industries – as travel agencies, journalists, and the makers of horse drawn carriages well know. Digital has changed how communications works for modern political campaigns, and in turn now the digital world is reshaping.
Libertarian candidate for President Gary Johnson is telling people to Google him, and I was curious about why. Gary Johnson’s search results aren’t bad, per se. He doesn’t have a Santorum problem. His campaign website does come up first in organic, there isn’t anything negative in the first page of results and so on. But there’s a lot more Gary Johnson could be doing to take advantage of his time in the spotlight- especially if he’s getting tons of exposure via earned media.
CampaignTech Chicago is coming up fast, where I will be holding a panel to talk about the seamy underbelly of digital politics. How can you defend against dark arts by other campaigns — or launch your own attacks? Here’s a sneak peak, but you’ll need to attend to get all of our tricks!
What’s in a name?
Make sure you own your own domain names – and check to see whether your opponents have left some obvious ones on the market. This can happen to any level of campaign – Ted Cruz and many others learned it the hard way. You’d be surprised how many campaigns and IEs fail to cover their bases on this one. It’s not only embarrassing, and a potential news story, but there could be some seo effects as well.
Trolling on social media
We’re all aware of the horror stories of politicians + Twitter. Since many politicians handle their own Twitter accounts, this is a way you can get under your opponent’s skin and enable them to make a self-inflicted wound. Start a parody Twitter account and they may personally freak out and make it a story – or in Trump’s case, Gawker played right into his vanity. (Twitter policy on parody accounts here.)
Also you can get your own fan base to flood their mentions with a particular message or issue – annoying for them, entertaining for you. Trolling bonus points if you can enrage their supporters too.
Note that this is definitely happening already on the Presidential level.
Take over search
Google adwords can be a pretty inexpensive tool – be sure to run them on your opponent’s name as well as your own. Going back to domains, if you own a good domain with their name on it, this would be a good place to amplify the content via paid search & social as well as some search engine optimization so it shows up high in organic results too. The Santorum googlebomb was all organic, as far as I know.
These are just a few examples of ways your campaign can harness the power of the dark side, digitally speaking. Come to our session in Chicago to find out more, and be sure to contact PowerThru if you need help defending against some dark arts — or perhaps launching your own.
I’ve written before about general online fundraising tips and online advocacy tips, but what makes a good mass email for a non-profit or political campaign — for fundraising or advocacy — in the first place?
Consider that people don’t read email like they read a novel. Most people are skimming the content, especially if they are using a mobile device and/or multi-tasking.
This means you should make sure your email is easy to read. Use short sentences, and highlight key text. Can people understand your message by only reading the bolded parts? Use simple language too – don’t write over the heads of much of your audience.
Now that the campaign awards season has mostly wrapped up, what can we learn from the winners? The Reed Awards recognize “excellence in political campaigning, campaign management, political consulting and political design.” The winners for 2015 campaigns were announced a couple months ago in Charleston, and you can see the complete list here. Full disclosure, PowerThru won “Best County/Local/Judicial Candidate Website”. The 2015 winners for the Pollie Awards (the political communications and public affairs industries) were announced earlier this month in Puerto Rico, full list here and the first round of the Goldies Awards were announced a month ago, winners here.
What can we learn from these awards about emerging digital best practices for campaigns?
If you’re launching a new non-profit or campaign, there’s a lot that needs to be done digitally to start (more tips here on how to successfully launch your campaign or non-profit) but I wanted to talk about social media in particular, since it’s the piece that candidates — or executive directors are likely to get tunnel vision on.
You might be lucky and your candidate already has active social media accounts to start, or you may be able to colonize old inactive social media accounts for your non-profit. If so, how do you reshape and relaunch? Or what if you’re starting from scratch?
We had a wonderful time in Charleston at the 2016 Reed Awards last week, sponsored by Campaigns & Elections Magazine. The Reed Awards, named after Campaigns & Elections founder Stanley Foster Reed, embody excellence in political campaigning, campaign management, political consulting and political design. Chosen from the largest and smallest organizations in the industry, the winners represent the latest techniques and talent in the business. PowerThru was an awards finalist for two of our campaign websites last year — for the sites Mark Ridley-Thomas for Supervisor (Los Angeles County, CA), and Luke Bronin for Mayor (Hartford, CT).
We were honored just to be recognized for our responsive campaign website work — and we ended up winning Best Website For County, Local Or Judicial Candidate!
It looks as though one of the Internet’s most notorious Googlebombs has lost some of its explosiveness.. Just Google “Rick Santorum” and take a look.
I’m not sure if Rick Santorum did some paid search engine optimization work, or if the bomb’s effectiveness wore off over time, but what should you do if your campaign or non-profit finds itself in a similar pickle — or if you’re just facing down some unfortunate Google results and need SEO help?
Happy New Year! Recovering from the end of year fundraising push and looking for some advice to read through the holidays? Here’s our favorites from 2015, on online rapid response, how to begin online fundraising, list cleaning and more.
We’ve worked with several non-profits and campaigns that had their moment in the spotlight: sometimes it’s good news, sometimes bad. Here’s how to be prepared for when the focus is on you.
Depending on what your issue is or what campaign you’re with, a moment in the news cycle may be inevitable, such as an upcoming debate. Or maybe you got lucky and Oprah mentioned you today, or you caught gotcha footage of your opponent. Either way, build a contingency plan before you need it, so you don’t miss out on the opportunity.