Friday, February 29, 2008

It's not about the technology, it's about communications, field, fundraising and gotv

In a recent conversation with a Congressman's campaign team, I realized we were talking about two very different things when we discussed technology. This (old-school and very effective) campaign manager saw his candidate's web site as another campaign check-off item--on the same list as yard signs, direct mail, walk pieces, etc. If the campaign was a car, he saw technology as a windshield wiper--important, but not integral.

I see the campaign web site as a way to make (almost) every campaign effort less expensive, more effective, and more widely available.

In the car analogy, I'd see technology as more like fuel injectors -- something that improves overall performance. (Did I just reveal my mechanical ignorance? Even if fuel injectors don't do what I think they do, I trust you understand the underlying point.) It's a song I've been singing for decades: back in the late 80's I started volunteering at elementary schools to help integrate computers into their curricula--to use the computer as a way to quiz second graders on their spelling words rather than just as a way to teach them how to use a mouse. I believed then (and now) that the computer was a means to an end, rather than an end in itself--and that having a computer teacher was like having a pencil teacher. Now, it's certainly true that a computer is much more complicated and powerful than a pencil--and that there's great value in combining the struggles and objectives of the teacher with the understanding and solutions of someone who knows how to use the computer to make teaching easier.

So too with campaign web sites. You can certainly hire a director of Internet outreach (or whatever you want to call it), but if you put this person in charge of your web site without integrating the web site into all facets of your campaign, you're more or less hiring yourself a pencil teacher.

If you really want to exploit the knowledge and understanding of your internet/technology person, make sure they understand (and can communicate) how to harness technology to make all campaign efforts better, cheaper and more visible.

--Louella Pizzuti

No comments: