Guest article! The first in a while, too. This piece was sent in by long-time reader and friend-of-e.politics Ha-Hoa Hamano, and was written by her boss, Chris Casey of NGP Software. It originally appeared on the NGP site.
Campaign Web Sites, The Morning After
Chris Casey, Director of Online Campaigns for NGP Software
If campaign web sites had feelings, then on the morning after Election Day many would feel like a bride or groom left at the altar. Months of planning, buildup and being the center of attention ends abruptly in a frozen lonely stare.
After all of that work for their candidate, recruiting volunteers, raising money, building a community of supporters, and spreading campaign news, a very large number of campaign web sites freeze on Election Day. And that is a big mistake for the winners and losers alike.
Our experience has been that the morning after Election Day is often one of the most heavily trafficked days on a campaign’s web site. Not everyone stays up all night watching election results on TV or continuously re-loads early results from the web. Many will instead, wait until morning and turn first to your web site — the site on which they have hopefully become regulars and to which they now look for some update on the outcome of their efforts. It is a great success that your supporters look to your campaign web site for information, and a terrible failure if you were to let them down when they’ve come looking for the biggest news you have to offer… Did we win or lose??!!
Many campaigns will let them down. On Wednesday morning, these supporters will be lucky if they see an Election Day message encouraging them to get out and vote, or a link to help them find local polling places. They are unlikely to learn the election’s result, or to receive a word of thanks.
It may be understandable that the winners are still happily celebrating (or soundly sleeping off their victory celebration), and that the losers see no point in updating their sites. And though the campaigning may stop when the polls close on Tuesday night, your web site continues to serve a purpose. Win or lose, your web site should tell the end of the story with a thankful victory speech, or a gracious concession. For the winners who will find themselves seeking re-election before they know it, and the losers who hope to try again in another run for office, each would do well to maintain the online community of supporters you have cultivated over the many months of this campaign. But at a minimum, tell the end of the story. Don’t leave your bride at the altar. On the morning after, end the story with, “and they served happily ever after”.
Here are some suggestions to think about now and put to use for next Wednesday;
- Link to results: If you aren’t going to be able to update your campaign site on Election Night or the following morning, you should at least provide a link to a site that does provide results; preferably an Election Board or Secretary of State’s results page. News media sites also provide a good source for election results.
- Have your speech ready to post: In any race that is known to be close, a smart candidate will approach their Election Night party with both a victory and a concession speech ready to use. Even if the balloons aren’t dropping in your ballroom, your online supporters who aren’t with you deserve to learn what happened via your web site.
- Share some photos: Certainly there are people at your party with a camera. Ask for some of their photos, there on the spot, and share on your web site.
- Send a day-after email: It’s understandable that you may feel like you’ve already sent too many emails to your supporters, but the morning after offers an opportunity to send one more — and this time one without asking for money, support or votes. Instead, this time, you can report the outcome and just say ‘thank-you.’
Great advice, and a reminder to think about the long term even at the moment of decision.