At a panel discussion we participated in today for a group of visiting European political officials, DNC Internet Director Josh McConaha made a statement that cuts through a lot of the hype surrounding online politics. Answering a question from the audience about how to choose among the vast array of online channels available, he listed three technologies that just about every campaign would benefit from using. It’s not surprising that these are also just about the most basic tools out there. Different campaigns will place more or less emphasis on any one of them based on their particular requirements, but these are the consistent winners:
- Email. As in, an email list for relationship-building, fundraising and volunteer organization.
- Website. Usually a campaign’s online focal point as well as a good list-building tool.
- Outreach. Direct communication with whoever’s writing about you online, in blogs of course but also discussion groups or other online communities.
Josh noted that once these bases were covered, a campaign would have room to start experimenting. After these essentials, he mentioned social networking as a next logical step, with video an increasingly powerful tool as well. E.politics cannot agree more: there’s a reason that the first three how-to chapters in Online Politics 101 focus on websites, email lists and blogs, followed by social media/social networking and video. It’s good to hear that instinct confirmed by someone who’s deeply immersed in the business of motivating supporters online.