Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why Obama is Using the Web to Announce his V.P.

It's not exactly a secret, but it's also not getting enough attention. Usually, when a presidential candidate unveils their choice for vice-president, they do so in a joint press conference with throngs of reporters and television cameras. Barack Obama isn't going that route. He plans on making his announcement by... text message.

That's right. Obama is bypassing the media glitz and glamour of a professionally-orchestrated press event in favor of a basic text message to supporters. The question is why? And will it work?

His reason for doing so is simple. With neither candidate declaring their running mate this late into the campaign season, Obama is trying to leverage that edge-of-your-seat anticipation into people actually becoming personally involved in his campaign. You can be in-the-loop and find out the identity of his running mate just as fast as elite reporters - if you simply sign up on the Obama website. As this L.A. Times article describes:

This modern tech announcement gimmick, of course, also has the added benefit of presumably getting thousands of people to offer the campaign their e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers, a priceless, free recruiting and fund-raising tool.

When you sign up to receive the VP notification, you are offered another form to help recruit many friends and family to sign up too. NON-PARTISAN WARNING: You will soon also begin receiving regular pleas for money.

But it doesn't stop there. Besides text messages, the Obama campaign is also utilizing several Web 2.0 services that harness the power of social networks. You can additionally be notified of the V.P. pick by email, Facebook, Twitter, or numerous other web services - all of which require you to subscribe, in one way or another, to an Obama campaign feed.

Is this a smart strategy? Absolutely. As Obama clearly demonstrated in the primaries, online social networks can have a major impact in both fundraising and grassroots organizing. It will make his core supporters feel deeply involved in the campaign, and will help bring in independents as fringe supporters. Plus, you know that that media glitz and glamour of a professionally-orchestrated press event will inevitably happen a few hours later anyway.


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