With the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s last new media director off to a new job in Facebook’s Washington, D.C. office, Alex Skatell has filled the role. The just-hired new media director recently held a similar position at the Republican Governors Association, and aims to ensure the NRSC has the resources to produce quality websites, ads, and video.
“I want to build out a more robust media operation,” said Skatell, who started his gig February 1. “I’m glad that they put such an emphasis on [digital media] here. The key is going to be finding the right people to help produce the content and not necessarily just form the ideas.”
A goal for Skatell (pictured above) is to be able to produce content supporting Republican Senatorial candidates and campaigns in-house, in part because it’s more cost-efficient. “If we can, [we should] do more media in house,” he said.
According to Skatell, the NRSC’s former digital strategist, Katie Harbath – who recently joined Facebook – helped establish a legacy of data and analytics measurement that he plans to carry on. In its work building Web content to generate donations and communicate messages, the organization does splash page and donation page testing, tracks traffic sources to determine which sites drive the most e-mail signups, and measures “what was the final thing that got them to donate,” he explained.
Educating Senate campaigns about the use of data and digital tools promises to be an important aspect of Skatell’s position. Indeed, Harbath also demonstrated the significance of evangelizing digital tools in a message she sent to GOP Senate campaigns about a week before election day in 2010. “Wanted to let you know that over the weekend the [Republican National Committee] shared with AOL some voter data so now you can target Republicans by precinct, gender, age and voting habits (Hard-R to Soft-R) on the AOL network,” she wrote in the e-mail.
Overall, Skatell said he believes Republicans have come a long way since the 2008 election, and are now more willing to invest in digital. “If you ask any of the [digital media and technology] vendors , they’ll tell you that …Republicans saw the power of the Internet in ’08 – and we needed to compete.”
At the moment, he’s focused on choosing vendors for e-mail, web, mobile, and advertising related services. That, coupled with big picture strategic planning for the next two years, will encompass much of his time. Skatell’s work as director of new media and technology at the RGA provided a lot of similar experience in IT, web development, digital advertising, video production and social media marketing.
He indicated the importance of cultivating quality design and production staff – or partners – and praised the creative and production people he worked with at the RGA. However, he suggested the organization lacked in production strength when he first joined, and in part, it required working with people from outside the political realm to enhance web and advertising production. “When I came to the RGA, the problem I saw with the GOP was there were a lot of smart people with good ideas, but few people properly executing those ideas. We didn’t have real strong production [capabilities].”
Hiring other digital staff may come down the road, but before that happens, said Skatell, “I need to spend a little more time here, and just get a feel for the organization.”