Thompson’s Web Guy Talks Strategy Post-Battle

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgSo, the techno-politico sphere of the Web seems pretty interested today in a lengthy post on TechPresident from Mike Turk, the guy behind Fred Thompson’s online campaign (now ended), and former e-campaign director for the Bush/Cheney ’04 presidential campaign.

He writes about online campaign strategy, dealing with tight deadlines, flying by the seat of his elephant-embroidered pants, that sorta thing. Unfortunately, no mention of the paid ad side of the campaign’s Web efforts (though from what I saw there wasn’t a whole lot). Still, there’s lots of food for thought.

If anything, what the post and subsequent comments evince is the fact that the relatively small group of people involved in developing digital campaigns and implementing interactive technology for them can be pretty open when it comes to sharing ideas and insights, even if it might help out the other side (within limits, of course).

A few highlights I think ClickZ’s audience would be interested in:

“On Hannity and Colmes, Fred announced his website url and the flood came in…. We attracted over 100,000 unique visitors, raised over a quarter million dollars, and added nearly 30,000 names to our list in the first 24 hours.”

Taking into consideration the web site team had about 10 days to build the site and make sure it could handle a mass visitor influx, that’s pretty impressive.

Turk also talked of how he aimed to improve on the netroots component of the Bush-Cheney campaign:

The idea, from my perspective, was to harness the power of the Net to build a robust community that would become an integral part of the ground game. The Bush-Cheney campaign had begun the process of enabling volunteer action online…. The Bush campaign was innovative in allowing people to participate in the mechanics of the campaign, but it never developed the community that could interact, inspire, and spur each other into action…. The Thompson web operation would be different. With Jon Henke, Howard Mortman and William Beutler constantly opening new channels through local, state and national blogs, and the campaign site providing a vehicle for those attracted to participate in the campaign, we could reach the tipping point where engaged people are empowered to contribute in ways never attempted by the GOP.

…. As an example of the strength of Thompson’s online effort, look at the Thompson campaign blog and you’ll see something remarkable for GOP candidates – comments. And not just a few comments, but hundreds and even thousands of comments…. Almost nobody on the GOP side sees this as a way for their supporters to network, to share ideas, or to brainstorm ways to help the campaign.

Turk also acknowledges campaigns on both sides “need to trust and engage the people. Since the people are online, they need to engage people online. There are just as many Democtrats [sic] who need to learn this lesson (cough, cough, Hillary, cough, cough).”


As for Web ads, the former Tennessee Senator’s campaign ran about 650,000 display ads solely on FoxNews.com in October (as per Nielsen Online AdRelevance), questioning the pro-life stance of fellow GOP candidate Mitt Romney and taking aim at Rudy Giuliani’s pro-choice position. Ads culminated with Thompson’s stern visage placed beside the phrase, “Support the real conservative.” The campaign employed the same anti-Romney/Giuliani tactic in ads on right-wing blogs launched in October.

Also, I’m quite sure I came across paid search ads from the campaign leading up to the primaries.

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