March 30, 2011
It is always difficult to measure the effectiveness of media campaigns. Traditionally, staffs have counted media clips or calculated cable news ratings when a Member of Congress partakes in an interview. While these methods produce a snapshot of exposure for a particular initiative, they do not present the whole picture and are not entirely quantifiable. Fortunately, the Web offers a host of new methods for communications professionals to evaluate messaging efficacy.
Congressional websites are in many ways the first impression Members of Congress display toward constituents. In addition, they can be a calculator to gauge the strength of communications campaigns. Staffers can measure daily website unique visitors and analyze changes when new initiatives are introduced.
For instance, if the communications director decides to emphasize online and television appearances as opposed to radio and newspapers, he or she can measure the new campaign’s success by quantifying website visitors. Other online measurement tools include Member Wikipedia page views, Facebook impressions, and Twitter retweets.
If a Member introduces a new bill or a scandal erupts, citizens will invariably scour the Internet for more information. For instance, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) came under scrutiny recently for admitting she failed to pay property taxes on her private plane. On March 22, the day the story broke, Senator McCaskill’s Wikipedia page received ten times more visitors than an average day, according to http://stats.grok.se/en/201103/Claire%20McCaskill. In addition, she had an exponential increase in her Twitter following, which now contains more than 50,000 followers.
Web tools give Members of Congress more avenues to measure the effectiveness of legislative and communications campaigns. These statistics can then be leveraged to make decisions on what legislative initiatives to pursue, what media outlets pitch, and how best to allocate a Member’s limited time – optimizing office operational efficiency.
October 27, 2010
Less than one week until Election Day. In order to celebrate, we are going to spend these final days examining original and effective tactics campaigns are deploying to market their final message and drive voters to the polls.
Commit to Vote Challenge
If you are a Democrat then chances are you received this on your Facebook page at some point over the last few days. OFA is sending this message to registered Democrats on Facebook asking them to commit to vote. Users are transferred to the Commit to Vote website on barackobama.com. After signing up, users can then challenge their friends to also vote in November. This is social media canvassing at its core.
Road to Victory Tour
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) has fired up the bus and is travelling throughout the state of North Carolina on his Road to Victory tour. The one-term Republican, and fellow Wake Forest alum, is primarily using video to generate voter enthusiasm – with his website front page saturated in Youtube links. He is also using Facebook to ensure North Carolinians know where they can vote early. The “EarlyVoteNC” icon on his page allows supporters to find their early voting location by entering their address.
24 Hours of Tom
Embattled Freshman Congressman Tom Perriello (D-VA) embarked on a 24 hour, 22 stop tour on October 25. The Congressman tweeted continuously throughout his tour and placed a tour map on his website. The tour generated substantial positive publicity in local newspapers and the coverage continued into the follow day with the announcement that President Obama will hold a rally with Perriello on October 29.
October 2, 2010
Members of Congress use recess to return to their districts and interact with constituents through town hall meetings and local events. But how many constituents are politicians actually reaching? According to an August Rasmussen Poll, only 35 percent of people have ever attended a political town hall meeting, proving a vast majority of constituents will not interact with their Congressman or Senator. This places the onus on Members to promote their recess activities through their Website and other digital means.
During August recess, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) travelled throughout Virginia meeting with constituent groups. The Senator attended 40 events and logged more than 1,600 miles on his odometer. In order to promote his travels, the Senator’s staff created a 90 second video highlighting events and towns the Senator visited throughout the Commonwealth.
Congressman Zack Space (D-OH), in his second term representing central and southeast Ohio, posted a series of videos on his Facebook and Youtube pages through the month of August. Speaking in front of southeast Ohio landmarks, the Congressman discussed issues affecting his district and the ways in which his actions in Congress have positively affected the lives of his constituents.
While not using video, Congressman Jerry Moran (R-KS) – who is currently running for Senate in Kansas – continuously updates his Congressional Facebook page with pictures of him meeting with constituents in his district. The Congressman also posts the photos on his official Congressional Website.
Rep. Jerry Moran meeting with constituents
As long as it is not one month before an election, recess is an opportunity for Members of Congress to reconnect with their constituents. But it is impossible to meet with all voters directly, and Members need to do a better of job of selling their connection to the community. With anti-Washington attitudes enveloping the country, Members that use digital channels to showcase their connection with their district, will be best positioned to weather the anti-establishment storm. As former Speaker Tip O’Neil said, “all politics is local”, and now opportunities are available to showoff how local you are.