This week’s Personal Democracy Forum, the annual conference dedicated to exploring the convergence of politics and technology, was its usual confluence of politicos, bloggers, tech geeks, media observers, and rabble-rousers. Topics like Net neutrality, government technological know-how, infrastructure and broadband access, and John McCain’s computer literacy were among many discussed. Good stuff.
I was there Tuesday to speak on a panel about “New ways of making (and spending) money online,” where I talked about how much the Obama and Clinton campaigns spent on online ads in the primary season.
While most of the subject matter at PDF steers clear of advertising and marketing, there was one interesting point relevant to ClickZ made during – of all things – a session on National Tech Policy. During the Q&A period, a representative of ocean advocacy group Oceana lamented the fact that government staffers often ignore mass e-mails sent in affiliation with issue advocacy campaigns. You know – those online form-generated e-mails – “Tell Senator Tankerbell you want to keep fluoride out of your tap water!”
The fact is even a few years ago, staffers were, to a certain degree, taking such mass messages with a grain of sea salt. I wrote a piece while associate editor of Personal Democracy Forum’s site about the issue as it related to the nomination of John Bolton as UN Ambassador. At the time, Senator Lincoln Chafee’s press secretary told me, “Ultimately, from a campaign point of view, these mass efforts can take away from the impact that individuals can have – the folks who read about it in the paper and decide on their own to make contact.”
With that as a backdrop, it was interesting to hear the response of Alec Ross, EVP External Affairs for tech nonprofit One Economy to the Oceana attendee’s mass e-mail woes.
“You can’t go with what worked 5 or 6 years ago when MoveOn was growing so rapidly,” said Ross. “You’ve got to get creative.”
I suppose for Web marketers, the same notion should be applied when something that used to work doesn’t cut it anymore: get creative.
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