If I have one piece of advice for digital advocacy newbies, it’s this: learn HTML. You wouldn’t believe how many times it’s saved my ass.
Every year, a new crop of aspiring digital communicators hits the street, many of them right out of college and rarin’ to make a mark on the world. But even if they’ve had an intro job or two in the field, most still only know how to do one or two things: typically, how to run social media for a campaign, organization or small company. And by “run social media,” I mean “post content to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.” And even if they’ve had experience planning a content strategy or creating graphics for social channels, they’ve still only seen that one slice of the online communications world.
February 6th, 2014
Poster child for brain-dead TV-buying, 2012 edition
A couple of recent articles have highlighted a flood of money entering Senate races via “independent expenditure” groups, some of them narrowly focused:
By the fall, political operatives expect that candidate allies will try to establish such PACs in nearly every major Senate race. Strategists debate the strengths and weaknesses of these localized groups, but they could prove critically important to a plethora of key Senate matchups.
The big dog, though, is the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, which is already running ads targeting Senate Democrats well over six months before the election. Dangerous…remember those TV ads Obama ran in battleground states in the summer of 2012, which many credit with tarnishing Mitt Romney’s brand? If these have a similar effect, they could hurt Democrats in a serious way.
Of course, the plethora of outside groups may just cause trouble — as I describe in an upcoming piece in Campaigns & Elections, Democratic field canvassing told the McAuliffe 2013 Virginia campaign that some of the TV ads run by Republican IE groups were actually hurting Ken Cuccinelli, not helping. Plus, there’s the competition for cash:
February 5th, 2014
Update: check out this clever parody site, ParaBellumLabs.org…well done! And why the hell didn’t someone at the RNC buy that domain?
More fruits of the Republican effort to catch up with Democrats on the technology front:
The RNC Tuesday is announcing the formation of Para Bellum Labs, an in-house technology incubator that combines the committee’s data-analytics arm with its digital-marketing unit. As part of that effort, the committee is on the prowl for programmers and other engineers to staff its latest venture.
Considering the stakes, their ambitions seem appropriately large:
“We will fully participate in the open source community and earn the respect of the people we need to hire,” chief data officer Azarias Reda said in a statement Tuesday. “When it comes to recruiting top talent, our competition isn’t the Democratic Party — it’s the Facebooks, LinkedIns, and Googles of the world. We’re pushing the envelope by building products to win elections while creating a young and engaged image for the Republican Party.”
Of course, as we’ve discussed before, while ambitions are one thing, success is another. One single party-driven organization does not a robust technology ecosystem make, and as always, time will tell. Still, Republicans need to do SOMETHING to start to catch up, so why not try to recruit tech talent and see what happens.
In the meantime, some on the Left are having fun with Para Bellum’s name, which as Gawker noted today, the new tech venture shares with 9 mm ammunition designed for the German Luger pistol often used by Nazis in war movies. Yes, it’s a reach, and Gawker’s version of history is loose with the details, but it’s still a good excuse to stir things up: witness the offer from Democratic data firm Clarity Labs to give Para Bellum a free image makeover. Even more of a reach: does anyone else hear a faint, surely unintentional audio echo of the historically charged word “Antebellum”? Yes, I’ll see your “Hitler” and raise you “slavery”….
Unseemly “humor” aside, what really matters is the results: it’s all fun and games until time to count the votes.
February 5th, 2014
Here’s something folks may want to keep close at hand: a straightforward guide to your (current) Facebook advertising options. A friend was looking for one recently, and Fb’s Katie Harbath was happy to provide. The basic options? “Newsfeed Ads” (mobile, desktop or both) and Sidebar Ads (“traditional” Facebook ads), plus more-specialized creatures like Homepage and Logout advertising. Trends? Sponsored stories are going away, and the desktop and mobile worlds are merging through the newsfeed.
Note that Newsfeed Ads are essentially the same as “boosted” posts, but ordered through the downloadable Facebook Power Editor, the advertising API or an Insertion Order from a Facebook rep. Also note: ads procured through Power Editor, API or IO offer much more advanced targeting options and are rumored to have better performance than those bought through the standard interface most Page owners use by default.
February 4th, 2014
Check out last week’s top 10 over-performing Facebook posts, from the (roughly) 500 progressive groups followed by our friends at CrowdTangle. Of note this week: Planned Parenthood’s popular post-SOTU post only made it to fifth place on the list, a reflection of how successful the organization’s regular content is (i.e., they already have a high baseline).
1. AFM – American Federation of Musicians (558.5x)
February 3rd, 2014
On Wednesday I had the pleasure of going on Karen Jagoda’s Digital Politics Radio show, and as always, we had a great conversation. Check it out for yourself! Here are just a few things we talked about:
- Social media and narrowcasting SOTU response messages
- The disintermediating role of digital media in politics
- The role of political parties in an internet-driven political world
- Why the REAL fight in American politics is for victory in 2020
- Why pollsters should be getting nervous
- An online politics notable stares federal prison in the face
Tune in and hear for yourself — I promise not to let you down.
February 1st, 2014
January 31st, 2014
Guest article! Laura Packard’s work has appeared on our pages many times, and she’s back this time with tips for launching a candidate’s online presence at the start of a campaign. Check out her past Epolitics.com articles or learn more about her work at PowerThru Consulting. This article first appeared on the PowerThru Consulting blog.
So You’re Running for Office. How Do You Launch Your Political Campaign Online?
By Laura Packard
At PowerThru, we’ve helped a lot of candidates get launched in the last few months. For first-time candidates or folks who have been out of office for awhile and are not used to online tools, we find ourselves telling them the same things. In fact I just taught a version of this to the great future managers at the Wellstone Campaign Management School last month!
But if you’re not lucky enough to have a Wellstone-trained CM on your team (or you just want a refresher), how do you get started when you’re running for office? Here’s our list to help guide candidates and would-be candidates during the crucial phase between “thinking about running” and launching. What you do now can give you the boost you need for a successful launch, and get you on track to win. If you’re thinking about running, please read this carefully. And if you know somebody who’s running, please pass this along!
1. Your list is the heart muscle of your campaign. So strengthen and build it as much as you can before you launch.
January 30th, 2014
Congraulations to the communications folks at Planned Parenthood Action!* According to Crowdtangle, they won the internet last night with a Facebook post dinging the official Republican response to the State of the Union:
By CrowdTangle’s numbers, this image FAR outperformed the SOTU-related social media content from other liberal/progressive groups, at least in the engagement numbers that social communicators care about: Likes, Shares and Comments. Why did this one post work so well?
January 29th, 2014