Colin Delany August 22, 2006

What Campaigns Can Learn from Project Runway


At one of Alan Rosenblatt’s Internet Advocacy Roundtable discussions last week, Heather Holdridge from Care2 brought up some brilliant uses of text messaging that political campaigns can use as a starting point.

For instance, if you’re a Project Runway devotee and you vote via cell phone to have a cast member ousted from the show, you can be signed up to receive promotional text messages before the program airs and during commercial breaks. An hour before air-time, you might receive a reminder that the show’s about to start plus a teaser of what’s to come. During commercial breaks, you might get “diary” entries from competitors (“I can’t BELIEVE what she called me…”) and other content that elaborates on what’s happening on-screen.


Political campaigns could obviously use text messages to promote events — reminding supporters about a rally or of where their polling place is on election day. But they could also use them for political messaging — if you can send an event reminder, you can also send talking points.

For instance, after a debate, supporters could receive the campaign’s spin about how it went as well as highlights and lowlights (“I can’t BELIEVE what she said about Social Security…”). Messages could go out shortly after the event or first thing the following morning to help influence workplace water cooler conversations. Campaigns already send similar messages via email, but text messages go directly to people’s hands and can be read quickly — they’re less likely to get deleted unopened.

As a New Politics Institute presentation discussed a few weeks ago, we’re just scratching the surface of what mobile media can do. Forward-thinking electoral and advocacy campaigns are gathering supporters’ cell numbers now, to use them in a couple of years for applications we haven’t yet imagined.

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