What I love about public communication is the ability to speak for people who don’t have the tools and ability. When I was talking to my friend about this passion, she told me I should check out some of World Vision’s (where she is currently interning at) campaigns. Therefore, the last campaign I interacted with and observed was World Vision’s Stop Malaria campaign.

The opening page was very clean. As a webpage designer, I like how they chose an appropriate color scheme. The red on the homepage calls attention to the viewers as this is a hazard and needs attention. The grey/black create a gloomy tone about the issue, which is equally as effective. Like black, gray is used as a color of mourning as well as a color of formality and uncertainty like a dark cloud.

Additionally, it was easy to navigate. When I selected the different tabs on the homepage, I was happy to see this campaign understood how to talk to their audience. They didn’t use a lot of text in the individual sections. Instead, they balanced it out with videos and pictures. When there wasn’t an opportunity for videos or pictures, they appropriately balanced it with medium sized/bold headlines and bullet points.

A feature of their site, which I thought was very successful, was their blog. Their blog was cleverly placed inside their webpage. This was a smart, so the viewer does not get distracted by other blogs on blogspot.com, wordspress, tumblr, etc. Like the other pages, the blog had a good balance of images, videos and text. It was very clean.

I liked how the website also asked the question, “why” throughout the site. This was a very smart engaging technique. I also liked how their resources page had links to the PDF instead of plastering them on the webpage. This strategy helps the page to load faster.

The 2D aspect of their website was another positive element of their website. The page had numerous ways for people to get involved such has how to host a malaria awareness event, giving bed nets, and opportunities for college students and youth. I also like how they had a form you can send your senators and congressmen.

However, I think one aspect that would have been beneficial would be a place to put your email address in and receive updates about ending malaria. They have a section called “join”, but I did not receive any emails or a welcome after I “signed up.”  I signed up on Monday night and have not received anything and it is now Sunday evening.

Their Facebook page had a grand number of 1,528 “Fans” include 5 of my friends as of Sunday night. They utilized their Facebook page to release breaking news and keep it up to date, which is very effective. However, I feel they can be more engaging like their website. What feature I love about successful Facebook Fan pages is that they ask questions, or ask people to tell stories. I think this would be a successful add on. Additionally, I feel that there Info page can have some more info ;-).

Lastly, I feel a Twitter page would be great to bring in some outsiders like the press. This would help the press instantly see breaking news. In addition, I think they should utilize the Twitter application called “Twibbon.” I’ve seen this on many pages throughout these weeks of following different campaigns, and I think this is an excellent opportunity.

The videos they presented are very effective. Their YouTube videos are on the World Vision YouTube channel, and I feel they deserve their own channel. I feel this strategy would bring in some public outsiders as well to the World Vision’s Stop Malaria webpage.

There was no MySpace or Flickr, which I think can be very beneficial. Like a Twitter, having a Flickr account would encourage the press to get involved because it would give the press great stock art photography. MySpace would reach the younger generation and the mid-western audience.

Overall, this campaign had an excellent design, strategy and message. I only wished they utilized Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, and YouTube. I feel if they will be able to do so they will attract more visitors to their website.

Don’t sell yourself short, WorldVision, you’re doing great!

In American History, we go through many transitions that define our lifestyle This transition can include a new president in the White House, modifications to transportation, alteration to the way we communicate, but we often forget about one transition. This is the transition of generations. We have the Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and now the Millenials. As future campaign strategists, we often hear that President Obama successfully reached this generation of voters, but we never fully understand who they are and how he did other than connected with their tech-savy minds. Millennial Makeover by Hais and Winograd was a truly captivating read, and I definitely feel more informed about my generation and how to reach them.

Hais and Winograd call this reaching generation method, “Realignment Theory.” In this theory, “political scientists movie away from analyzing the outcomes of elections based on candidate personalities and particular issues of the times and to search instead for broader explanations” (p. 17). Many historical and social events cause an era transition; thus, “realignment are temporally associated with sever social or economic crisis.” In 2008, we were suffering from a big economic crisis; we were in need for a new leader. Therefore, campaign strategists needed to sell a presidential candidate who can be this change.

Technology helped get the word out about this ideal candidate. “Technology serves to enable these changes by creating powerful new ways to reach new generation of voters with messages that relate directly to their concerns” p. 24. Through this book, the authors discuss that this new generation of voters are not reading the newspaper like previous generations and are skipping over advertisements on television because of DVR (p. 154).  Candidates need to stand out if they want to get elected.

I thought it was very helpful that the authors included several pages listing the characteristics of the millennial generation that every campaign strategists should know. Additionally, they included relevant statistics to support their claims. These include but aren’t limited to the fact that millenials like to engage in civil activities, not concerned for racial differences (The Cosby Show is what many millenials know as their first show p. 77), international friendly (1 in 5 millennial has an immigrant parent p. 67), and they are a positive generation! Sixty-four percent believe we live in a very exciting time.

Nevertheless, they feel that political figures can make things better (p. 92). From self-research, I can decipher that is because they seem them like their “helicopter” parents. This 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child’s or children’s experiences and problem. Therefore, 69% of millenials are in favor of a bigger government to help them get back on track. However, millenials are more democratic.

(Drumroll) We have reached a new era in presidential elections, and the Democrats are successful. In 2006, “millennials voted for Democratic House candidates over Republications nationally by a wide margin (60% vs. 38%).” (p. 105).

Before the 2008 election, research strategists believed the candidate with more money will be the winner, but this proved to be false. Politicians began “winning without the mother’s milk of politics” (p. 124). In the Internet marketing terms, the “Internet went viral. Each activist recruited other friends to join the cause, creating a snowball effect as the momentum and excitement grew” (p. 130)

“With MySpace and other social networking tools, each voter become his or own campaign office and flood the nation’s political speech with unfiltered ideas from every corner of the country” (p. 153). Social-Networking helped everybody to become a producer and have a voice in the world. Additionally, social networking has made individuals feel equal to these great politicians. “Sixty-four percent of Millenials believe everyone in their group is equal, so they tend to make decisions together with the leader managing a serch for consensus rather than trying to dictate their response should be.” (p. 170). Millenials look up to their politician has the political boss who can speak for them.

Literally, I can go on listing the lessons I’ve learned from this book, but I’ll conclude with the most important one. Strategists have the “weapons” they need, but few knew how to use them effectively.

A common mistake of those engaged in technology armed race is a to assume that the technology is intrinsically of strategic value. In fact, technology is only useful when its use meshes with political strategy that a campaign or party has decided on.” (p. 183).

I must have lighted this quote in 5 colors in the book; it has become my philosophy for Internet Advocacy.

And so in 2008, as in 1860, and 1932, a new president was elected with the opportunity to use a new communication technology to mobilize an emerging civic generation transformation American forever” (p. 292)

Welcome to the Future!

It is quite rare to find an organization that practices what they preach, but Organizing for America is without a doubt not this case. In Internet Advocacy this summer, I have learned that it is important to have a good strategy and message, or you will fall apart. Organizing for America marks for the “first time a political party has developed permanent field program with its own communications channel to contact and organize volunteers to advance between elections” (p. 6). I have always loved behind the scenes efforts; it was actually the reason I wanted to get a master’s degree in Public Communication.

I liked how the author of this article, Ari Melber, started from the beginning of OFA’s activities in 2009 and ended with areas for potential further debate. For this blog, I decided to stick with the first part, which I feel is the most important for campaign strategists.

Organizing for America had a mission to gather public and community support for our President Obama, and they did with flying colors. I loved reading about how they accomplished this great feat, when the Democratic Party was in the deep end after the 2004 Election loss. I agree with Political Scientist, David Galvin when he says, “…OFA itself makes Obama much better positioned to make serious building inroads than his predecessors ever were…if Obama converts OFA into a multipurpose entity…he can change the course of the Democratic Party”

And community shall bring about the change according to this article. As Melber states on page 9, “regular citizens as supportive volunteers or persuadable decision-makers could restore some balance to a process that often focuses on media and financial advocacy more than pressure from regular citizens.”

The most relevant campaign, OFA took part in was their initiative in HealthCare reform. As Melber puts it, “the most significant “asks,” for volunteer activity was this campaign. The facts and figures he points out are incredible. In 2009, 44 percent of OFA’s emails focused on health care while 17 percent addressed economic and budget issues and five percent discussed the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

His next section about OFA, “community management” is appropriately named. In his opening statement, Melber declares, “Most politicians do not maintain continuous, direct contact with volunteers and supporters once victorious campaigns end;” (p. 13), this opens for OFA to take over. This is where Organizing for America came in handy.

This section entirely convinced how important it is that you offer ways to engage your audience in issues. For instance, OFA launched community events to coincide with the anniversary of Obama’s election; Obama launched a video thanking volunteers for their support for America’s HealthCare reform. In response, 170,000 views after the initial sending of the email. On another “public track, OFA supporters reported they sent out 233,500 letters to the editor in local publications on behalf of HealthCare reform. Additionally, over 1,000 videos were submitted with some of the top entries drawing over 180,000 views. These kinds of figures blow my mind!

Similarly OFA has not only changed the course of the Democratic Party, but also all the different parties. Even if you go to any candidate’s (no matter how famous or unknown), there are more options than ever to take action to support your candidate and their issues.

The Cluetrain Manifesto by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger was a fascinating read from cover to cover. When people asked me what is it you reading this week? Cluetrain…what? I proudly explained to them that this book is more than meets the eye. It is a instructional book that explores the purpose of the Internet.

Throughout this book, I learned that the Internet is more than a tool for the common man; it is a marketplace conversation and relationship at the same time. Nevertheless, it is place where “people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with binding speed (p. xiii).”

Naturally, this statement is very broad, so these colleagues and authors came up with 95 Theses to initiate this Internet Reformation. These theses have an uncanny parallel to the Protestant Reformation in 1517, which was started by scholar and German priest Martin Luther. Martin Luther posted these 95 Theses to give a voice to the people, and I feel these colleagues wrote up these theses in the same sense. Throughout this manual for using the Internet, these colleagues reiterate how the Internet has given a voice.

Nothing is more intimately a part of who we are than our voice. It expresses what we think and feel. It is an amalgam of the voluntary and involuntary. It gives style and shape to content. It subtends the most public and the most private. It is what we withhold at the moments of greatest significance. Our voice is the strongest, most direction expression of who we are. Our voice is expressed in our words, our tone, our body and our visible enthusiasm” (p. 114).

I absolutely love this quote. We all have different types of voices, and the Internet brings it out. I know I use a different voice when I am speaking to my World of Warcraft friends than my Facebook friends. Additionally, I am speaking an even more different voice when I am building a website, and it is more than an HTML code. The colors, photos, and even text tells a lot of about my design. On page 121, Rick Levine verifies this statement when he says, “every Web page we see has a person behind it. This is very true especially in the age of social networking, where people have to build profiles before engaging in interaction. As this book reiterates, this is a huge window of opportunity for marketers, and the Internet keeps it alive and motivating.  From page 34, Levine states “markets with multisided conversations, letting me hear multiple parties, not just one, are more interesting.” One hundred pages later, Doc Searls and David Wienberger discuss the power of conversation and its ability affect consumers, business, and products.

Market conversations can make – and unmake- and remake entire industries. We’re seeing it happen now. In fact, the Internet itself is an example of an industry built by pure conversation.”

People often tell me the Internet isn’t for everybody; I have to disagree. As earlier mentioned, the Internet is a window. Throughout my undergraduate literature-writing classes, I often wrote about the symbolism of a window. A window can be inferred as a transition into a new land. Likewise, the Internet gives us “an opportunity to escape from the bounds imposed by broadcast media’s one-to-many notions of publishing (p. 123).” The Internet allows people to find people like you and interact with them. As previous books for this class have mentioned, we are social creatures, we do not like to be alone. The Cluetrain Manifesto reiterated that marketing to people saying “we have recommendations for you!” (compliments of Amazon.com), creates a personal feeling and is winning effort in advertisement world. It creates a world for all individuals to interact and feel they are a part of something. It seals the generation gap.

Is the Internet nothing more  but a revenue for marketers? I say no but it doesn’t hurt them either. 🙂

For this week’s social networking interaction, I decided to look at a Republican campaign for a change. Before enrolling in Internet Advocacy, I had no desire to look at an challenger’s websites promoting him/her or his/her beliefs. But, after this past week’s lecture about political Internet campaigns, I felt it was almost a required duty as a communication strategist. I chose to look at Campaign for Liberty. Campaign for Liberty is a political organization founded by eleven-term United States Congressman Ron Paul. The Campaign for Liberty focuses on educating elected officials and the general public about constitutional issues, and currently provides a membership program. Now to critique their website.

The website was set up like a blog. I think this technique has its pros and cons. The pros include that it is very easy to read. The articles are short and to the point. Additionally, they include a YouTube video almost daily. I also like how you can search for a specific topic in the search engine on the top right hand screen. The cons include it doesn’t have a professional look to it. I know many people of all ages will only continue browsing and stay on a website if it has a professional look to it not one a two year could make. The ads on the right hand column are distracting and unnecessary.

As I moved throughout the website, I began to notice text heavy pages. Why are campaigns doing this? Time and time again, I get happy feeling then when I click the next page my happy face turns into one of disbelief. The About page was ridiculously text heavy. I ended up going to Wikipedia for a shorter version. The Donate and store page were alright. To sign up, the site required you to fill a lengthy form, which required a phone number and home address, so I passed on that. However, their phone number section gave you an option if you would like a voicemail or a text message; this was interesting that they are using both techniques.

Now I move onto how they are doing social networking wise. The social networks links were on bottom right column of the page; I would have definitely moved them up to the top. The Facebook page definitely serves its purpose. It has up to date wall posts, photos, videos, and talking points. I sent a message to the campaign asking how I can get involved, and I received a response within 6 hours. I also like how this Facebook page remembered the people’s voice as it allowed them to post photos and be the administrators. However, the social network overseer isn’t doing a good job monitoring the pictures. There were a lot of “spam images” that had nothing to do with Ron Paul or politics. Nevertheless, the discussion boards were informative and active; they were not used for ranting and raving from what I saw after a week of observations.

Their Twitter was another active social network tool, but I do not feel that the campaign strategists used this technique well. All they did was share links and use hash tags. There was no re-tweeting, picture/video sharing, of any kind. Pretty boring Twitter page if you ask me. I barely went on this page to look up the news when I could get the same information on the main website and Facebook page.

Their use of YouTube channel had its goods and bads. They have uploaded (183) and favorited (116) a lot of videos; they are truly active. But, the videos are long! They range anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, which is just over the human’s average attention span of 3 minutes.

Lastly, I explored their MySpace page. This page needs the most work. According to their page their last log in was April 3, 2010. I wouldn’t usually complain about a MySpace page since I feel it is a dying breed, but if this were the first page somebody visited they would be discouraged and not come back. Additionally, it is not consistent to the other pages. The wall posts are irrelevant to the overall message of the campaign. Lastly, the overall layout is obnoxious to look at. The photos dominant the MySpace account. I have to scroll to the bottom of the page to get some meat. I would recommend using a Flickr account to store these images.

Wow, this is definitely my longest critique, but there was a lot to talk about. I can conclude that these strategists definitely the main points of working in the Internet age, which include posting recent information. But, they fail to realize posting recent information is meaningless if you don’t remember your audience and encourage interaction. Their blog design of their webpage is not gathering a lot of comments. In fact, when I read the comments this week, two of the five on this one article were spam. Their Facebook page is definitely the best effort, but I feel it can be expanded greatly.

Every time I think I know everything about an article for Internet Advocacy; I am proven wrong. Since Principles of Strategic Communication, I thought I knew everything about the Obama campaign’s use of technology, but when I read about it this time I realized how applicable it is to any election, national or local. This very up-to-date article undeniably proves the purpose of my blog when it states “despite the stereotypes, the days of the computer as a young person’s preserve are long gone – the majority of people 65 and up now connect electronically at least on occasion.” I can definitely testify to this statement due to a personal experience.

I recently got accepted to intern at the Kennedy Center this summer, and I am often running errands to the different offices. One inventory errand brought me to the visitor’s center where the retired ladies sit. When I approached the front desk, they were conversing about the D.C. Mayor Election that is scheduled to take place on November 2, 2010. When I asked them if they needed more pamphlets or brochures, it was close to ten minutes until they finally looked up from their desk computers and answered yes. When I walked around to take an inventory, I took a quick glance at what they were looking at. It happened to be the website of the mayor candidate, Leo Alexander. Along with Delany, I firmly believe the Internet is sealing the Generation Gap, yet this is just the beginning. Now I shall talk about my learning and applications from the Obama 2008 Campaign.

The numbers of people involved in this past election were astonishing and almost hard to fathom. On MyBarackObama.com or MyBO, Obama’s own social network had 2 million profiles, 250,000 office events were planned, about 400,000 blog posts were written and more than 35,000 volunteer groups were created. If I get a job campaigning for a local or national election, I need to remember how important it is to communicate to my audience and remind they are an essential part of the election process. Also, this article reminded me that television advertisements for local elections are probably not the best use of money; there are a lot of free tools out there that would be better in the long run.

The social media lessons from the Obama’s campaign were short, succinct, very applicable and easy to remember. They included to start early, build to scale, innovate where necessary, make it easy to find, forward and act, pick where you want to play, channel online enthusiasm into specific, targeted activities that further the campaign’s goals and integrate online advocacy into every element of the campaign.

As easy as these steps sound, they are useless unless I commit them to memory, which I must. Too often, campaigns have great ideas and messages, but they forget them once the heart of the election is under way. The Obama Campaign is an exception to this prototype. They wanted to make the Internet the focal point, and they succeeded with flying colors. Not only did they make a website, but they utilized email, created a social network site (MyBarackObama.com), multi-channel online outreach (not just Facebook but also MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and more), Grassroots outreach and text message/cell phones.

In conclusion, I agree with Delany, campaigns must transform themselves into movements driven by mass enthusiasm if they hope to win elections. “The Internet gives individual people and groups large and small the potential loud voice” and is the equation for success in modern-age campaigning.

Since I’ve been joining and talking about campaign advocacy Facebook groups to my friends, I’ve been receiving more invitations to join groups my friends support or have taken a part in. Finding a weekly campaign has been easier. This week I am going to look at a campaign my friend, Kelly, initiated in West Palm Beach, Florida called Dress for Success. However, I will be looking at the campaign at a national level.

Dress for Success’s mission is to “promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.”

Their website was very informational and their list of events were up to date. Additionally, they had numerous ways to get involved such as donating money or clothing, signing up for their mailing list. But, I began losing interest pretty fast.

If I were the Webmaster for this company, I would suggest using more bold colors and images. The images look like stock art I would get from JupiterImages. I do like their idea of having testimonies on the front page, but it is looking cluttered and forced when placed on top of the images. Having a Graphic Design background, this is one rule I was told when designing promotional material. “Do not use more than 5 words on an image, or it will look crowded.”

The red, grey and black are professional colors indeed, but with a campaign, you need vibrant colors. The current colors bore me, and I don’t want to bother reading anymore. Additionally, the headline “Dress for Success” are small and in top left hand corner. I would suggest making them bigger and pick a decorative typeface. The current typeface is most likely an Arial or Arial Bold, or Italic. Additionally, they need to cut back on the body copy and just highlight about the company not give a thesis-long answer. I would suggest using bullet points and increasing the typeface size, giving a large headline, so it doesn’t look like a news article.

The links to their Twitter and Facebook were visible only when you scrolled down. In this day and age, you shouldn’t have to scroll down to find the social media. Their Twitter account is clean and probably their best feature, so why aren’t they showing it off more. It is an excellent combination of ReTweeting, sharing URLs and information. Additionally, it engages audience by asking questions. For example, a Tweet this week asks, “Want raise money for us without spending a dime? It’s easy: http://ow.ly/1w6NM.” This is very eye-catching and good use of the 2D Dimension strategy. I would only suggest spicing up their background instead of the red and grey backdrop. Their Facebook account is a replication of their site. When I clicked the arrow to see more tabs on Dress to Success, there were the photos and videos I have been yearning to see! Why are these applications more visible? However, I do have to compliment the social media manager; the Twitter and Facebook are up to date.

Therefore, the last recommendation I would suggest to DressForSuccess is get a YouTube channel. The campaign takes great pride in being experts in resume, interview and first day at job help. This pride can be turned into helpful videos, which would bring forth a larger audience. I rather watch a video about job interviews than reading a long list of Dos and Don’ts.

OK I lied; I have one more recommendation. Why aren’t they using a Flickr account? I would love to see the expressions on a woman’s face when receiving her first business suit or her first job; it would compel to donate. This would help cut back some of the text; a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Their campaign has a lot of potential for outreach and reach a large audience, but I don’t see it happening with their current design and game plan. They are similar to the television show, “What Not to Wear”; they have great ideas, but they are poorly executed and displayed.