Peter Greenberger made a great observation today on a CampaignTech panel about reaching inside-the-Beltway “influentials.” Peter’s now with Twitter (he was previously at Google), but he got his political start on a Clinton campaign in the ’90s. Back in those “War Room” days, “rapid response” meant that a campaign responded to something that happened in the morning by the time the evening news aired — basically, within the same news cycle.
Now, rapid response is measured in seconds, a development driven in part by Twitter. Peter used the Hilary Rosen micro-scandal as an example: within seconds of Rosen saying on cable news that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life, people were talking about it on Twitter. Soon thereafter the Romney campaign jumped into the Twitter-frenzy, in part by deploying Ann Romney as a microblogger. Obama advisor David Axelrod and other Democrats followed, all frantically trying to spin the story to their advantage. Why did it matter? Because reporters, bloggers and activists were watching, and the conversation was forming an important part of backdrop of politics for the week.
Fighter pilots have a saying: “speed is life.” The same is true in digital political communications, and it’s becoming ever moreso. The lesson? Respond in real-time or as close to it as you can, or you might find that it’s as though you never replied at all.