The print and online home to staunch conservatives like Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan and Oliver North wants to build the right wing answer to the Obama digital media machine. Human Events, a weekly magazine and daily online bastion of conservative commentary and analysis founded in 1944, launched its "Click to Victory 2012" campaign about six weeks ago to lure 18- to 34-year-olds away from the left. To assist in the process, Human Events has commissioned the assistance of a former Republican National Committee chief digital strategist.
"The Obama machine blew Republicans out of the water in 2008 by reaching and winning voters 18–34 where they live - online," declares the Click to Victory page on HumanEvents.com. To prevent a repeat of '08, "Human Events has launched Click to Victory 2012 - an urgent campaign to fund creation of a powerful new conservative website aimed directly at voters 18–34 - and to use email, video, cell phones, blogs, Facebook and Twitter to convince them to vote RIGHT in 2012."
"We need to do a better job of reaching different demographics, different constituencies," said Joe Guerriero, VP and group publisher of the Human Events Group, which also encompasses the RedState blog, several email newsletters, events, and a book publishing arm. "Our readers tend to be older white males," added Guerriero, noting that the publication's claim to fame since the '80s has been Ronald Reagan's loyal readership. "Let's go where the millennials are. Let's see if we can use our... loyal Human Events audience to help us get there," he contintued.
More than 3,000 people have donated to the cause so far, he said. Part of the appeal is the fact that conservatives and tea partiers want to make sure their values trickle down to the younger generation.
According to the site, donations go towards helping "convince young voters to dethrone King Barack in 2012."
The project is in the early stages, but the plan is to build a microsite and digital platform for distribution of the publisher's copious content across multiple digital platforms. Aligned with that goal is growing Facebook numbers and determining how best to use social media for the book division. A planned mobile app, for instance, would be promoted through mobile ads, Guerriero said.
"We want to go where the beachheads that we haven't won are," he said.
Another of those demographic beachheads is moms. Human Events created a "Family Events" email newsletter and Facebook page aimed at attracting mothers to conservatism. Launched in February, the publication deals with issues such as whether it's appropriate to allow children to use social networks. There are around 15,000 subscribers according to Guerriero.
The publisher has solicited the help of Todd Herman, who led the RNC's digital efforts during the 2010 election campaign cycle. "We just retained his firm to do a rebuild of our entire digital platform.... He's sort of serving as our chief digital officer," said Guerriero. Herman did not respond to a request for comment for this story. The Click to Victory effort is not linked to the Republican Party or advocacy groups on the right, according to Guerriero.
While bringing the business up to speed with modern digital media is inherent in the mission, the more immediate goal is to influence young voters by reaching them with conservative ideas where they are. "This is probably more about the movement than the business," Guerriero added. "I envision truly an endowment where we will have conservatives... making sure the movement is at the very center of what's happening with technology."
The concept is not dissimilar to an initiative launched after the 2008 election by digital-minded Republicans. Rebuild the Party was a coalition promoting new digital strategies for modernizing and injecting youth into Republican campaigns. Begun in early 2009, the now-defunct project held educational events intended to teach Republican campaign staffers how to use digital tools for internal organization as well as voter-facing initiatives. However, when the group's executive director Rob Willington went to work on Rep. Scott Brown's digital media-heavy campaign, that 2010 special election effort took over, and as Willington told ClickZ News, "was the best way to motivate the grassroots while also implementing the vision that RebuildTheParty wanted for the GOP."
Of course, GOP candidates in 2010, and now amid the 2012 presidential race, are also leading the charge, many of them displaying a dedication to digital platforms like Facebook, video, Twitter, mobile apps and more.
The next step for the Human Events project is to drive more donations through email, direct mail, and at fundraising events, said Guerriero. "We want to educate people... so they can go out and make cogent arguments with their peers. Part of it is to get-out-the-vote, and really activate communities... so they're not led like lemmings."
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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