Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Technology Changes the Political Playing Field

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Technology Changes the Political Playing Field

Article excerpt

Election day may be over, but there are lessons all businesses can learn about how to use technology effectively to reach key groups. Unfortunately, there is also a lot we can learn from what candidates didn't do as well.

Although most candidates had Web sites during the 2002 elections, they may not have used the Internet as fully as they could have. In a study released on election day, political consultants RightClick Strategies said many campaigns failed to even keep their sites updated on a daily basis. Locally, gubernatorial candidates' sites not only lacked information like polling locations, but also lacked any news of election results as late as noon on Nov. 6.

Like most businesses in the same industry, all three gubernatorial campaign sites had some information common to each. Position papers, photos, bios, volunteer information, the latest news releases, and the ability to sign up for email newsletters were all standard to each site.

More important than their similarities though were their differences.

"We tried to make our site as interactive and inviting as we could" said Gwenn Nesbitt, Brad Henry's communications director.

According to Nesbitt, one of the more popular sections of Henry's well-designed site was the "Ask Brad" page, which featured emailed questions and Henry's responses. The site was also updated daily with the candidate's schedule and the latest news.

"The Internet is a great tool to reach grassroots voters," said Nesbitt. "Especially in a state large and geographically vast as Oklahoma."

According to Nesbitt, the Henry campaign frequently used the Internet and email to inform volunteers and voters when Henry would be at an event in their area. When Henry started his "Road to Victory" RV tour, the campaign updated the site daily to keep the media and supporters up-to-date on tour stops and times.

"People could visit our Web site and consume information at their leisure," said Nate Webb, spokesperson for Largent for Governor. Webb believes that political site visitors are seeking a source of candidate information that they can read at their convenience and digest slowly.

According to Webb, the most popular section of the Largent site was the issues page, which he believes was a resource for people seeking more detailed explanations than they could find in the news or in a 10- or 30-second sound bite.

Like the Henry site, Largent's site was well designed and easy to navigate. It could have been better utilized, though, to raise money. …

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