Credit where credit is due…

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think anyone would agree that no small part of the success of President-Elect Obama’s campaign was due to their groundbreaking use of New Media. While presidential campaigns have been using interactive marketing for several election cycles now, the technology becomes more and more advanced with each one. In 2000, the web was still the new and exciting medium. Everyone knew the magnitude of its power, but we were all still trying to figure out what to do with it (thus the gold rush of the late 90s). Gore and Bush both had professional websites that broadcast information about their positions. Howard Dean took the next step in 2004 by using the internet to raise amounts of money that took all his competitors by surprise.

In this year’s cycle, however, we’ve seen an even more extraordinary leap in the effective use of technology. This year is the first one since what we generally refer to as “new media” has gained a meaningful number of users. Barack Obama and his team recognized this from the start and harnessed it to do so much more than just raise money. Bring in record numbers of money they did, but they also did a lot of things that left McCain’s campaign behind, much the way Kennedy left Nixon behind because of his inherent understanding of television.

So what did he do beyond his regular marketing campaigns and public relations efforts? He ran targeted opt-in text messaging campaigns, twitter updates, RSS Feeds, Blogs, webcasts, podcasts. I wonder if John McCain could even identify what most of those items are. I don’t mean that to be derogatory, rather I mean it to point out the difference in generation. The fact remains that Obama embraced a technology that is no longer in the future. The “present” has arrived for Web 2.0, Search Leveraged Public Relations, PR 2.0, Mobile Marketing and a host of other technologies. Now that we’ve seen how a political candidate can use it well, I’ll be a keen observer of what will come next in 2012.


As founding partner at 451 Marketing, Nick handles the agency’s internal operations. He has over 16 years of digital marketing, SEO and Social Media Marketing experience, working with local and national companies across market sectors, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, energy services, healthcare, high technology, and hospitality companies.

8 thoughts on “Credit where credit is due…

  1. Congrats to your blog! We´re a startup based in Miami and looking for PR support. Maybe you can help us? Send me an e-Mail with your contact infos please and lets dicuss and see… Thanks! Andreas

  2. This is very true. Deval Patrick tried to operate in this sphere as well in 2006. Granted, it wasn’t to this extent. The Internet allows grass roots campaigns to extend their reach well beyond what was previously possible.

    It would serve Obama well to continue his new media marketing throughout his first term. Much like Patrick, he is inheriting a wicked mess, which will not be fixed in 4 years. Much of the work needing to be done in the first 1 or 2 years will be laying a foundation, which will seem like not a lot is happening to the outside observer — “inside baseball” stuff. New media is a great tool for transparency, something government has lacked and desperately needs. He has a direct connection to citizens without the filter of the media. He must use it keep people engaged especially those who might think politics only happens every 4 years.

  3. It certainly seems like that’s the direction he’s taking. I heard an announcement this morning that he plans on creating a special technology task force to manage new media communications for the White House.

  4. Great post! Interestingly enough, I read an article not too long before the election regarding Obama’s marketing strategy. As we know, Obama targeted a younger demographic than McCain, and did so very successfully . The article was about how Obama ran ad campaigns in many popular online video games, like Madden ’09 and other sports games. These ads only appeared in ten states, all of which where swing states! We now know the results of the election and can truly say that this is a testament to what a smart marketing campaign can do. Not only for a political candidate, but any brand trying to reach their target demographic in this new age of social media.

  5. I think this topic of new media tools in politics is interesting when considering campaign spending. The guys over at Freakonomics have held that campaign spending has minimal overall importance — raising/spending money and winning elections have a correlation but not a causal relationship. It would seem new media tools provide more “face time” and better opportunity to convince people you are likable. Here is my question: Why aren’t third-party candidates as active in this relatively inexpensive area? Or are they and they are just not successful?

  6. I am impressed by the effort that went into your writing and the way you managed to keep the flow from Introduction of the topic to the summary. Do you think you might cover recent developments in marketing online or what are your thoughts about that.

    I look forward to reading more from you. Have a great week.

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