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.

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.