Building out the Illinois 2010 for Governor Web Operation Playbook

I've been doing some thinking about the Governor's Race in 2010 here in Illinois. It's going to be wide open on the GOP side and I think that Lisa Madigan (whom I'm presuming will be the nominee) will be tough to beat. Doable, but tough.

The part I've been thinking about is (obviously) the web part of the media operation. I'm going to lay out some of what I would do here and give my thoughts. I'm pretty confident that most if not all of the campaigns that will be run in Illinois will be so buttoned up, that I'm not in any danger of someone implementing these. We'll see, though. Who would have thought that the House Republican Leader would have let me run his online operations for 2 years with a loosey-goosey blog, pre-YouTube videos, a persuasive game, and DraftDitka.com.

The Parrillo Online GamePlan for 2010 in Illinois: (Note...I'm not really going to talk about the actual campaign website. At this point, everyone will have one and they'll all be pretty similar. My only advice there is to recognize that the site isn't just for fundraising!)

1. Create a MLB.com-like news reporting agency within the campaign. Create original content within this news bureau. Remove the filter/reliance that the media creates. All that is following will basically "live" within this new agency/bureau.

2. Hire a cute journalist and a cameraman/video editor and do WallStrip for Illinois campaigns and have it live within the new reporting agency/bureau. Why hasn't anyone done this? Produce a short 3-5 minute video every day (M-F) on what's going on in the campaign, the people, the candidate, etc. There's some cost here (salary + equipment), but it's not very significant. WallStrip does it for less than $1000/show, so I think a campaign for do it for even less. Create a separate site for this show (like WallStrip does), and then allow folks to embed it, watch it, mix it anyway they want to, anywhere they want to, anyhow they want to. Put it on YouTube, allow bloggers to embed the videos on their site, and **gasp** put it on the official campaign site. Politicians fear that people will remix/reuse footage of them in an unflattering way against them. That's not going to go away. But what will this give the candidate? A much larger megaphone to yell into.

3. Copy Matt Drudge, which Hillary Clinton has already done with HillaryHub.com and create a news "pointing" service. Put this site up early. Before you announce. Start pointing to things on the web. Things you create. Things the campaign creates. Things the press shop creates. Things the media create. Things your supporters create. Things your opponents create. Things this new agency/bureau creates. Etc. Links, eyeballs, and google juice will follow.

4. Widgetize your content. Allow folks to put your content where they live. On their Facebook pages, MySpace pages, blogs, email signatures, etc. Some folks are already doing this nationally, but it hasn't trickled down to the State races yet.

5. Hire Henry at OneMan'sThoughts if you can afford him. If not, then get him to volunteer on your team. Empower him to do whatever he wants to do within his blog and the campaign. I could see him leading the blogging commenting system for the campaign (the proactive engagement of the community).

6. Make sure that the news bureau/web services/news agency lives outside of the press shop. It isn't a buttoned-down operation that can be run by the Chief of Staff. Have it be another "shop" like organizing or field, press, fundraising, and this new one: web/news bureau.

7. Create and iterate. Repeat. With the freedom of this new organization and the right folks involved, this group should be empowered to think "big" and get creative. The costs are mostly in staff related expenses. Treat it like a minor start-up within the campaign. Give them the autonomy to do what they want and the results will help the overall campaign as long as the right person is running the operation and has the clearance from the top to get the most out of this setup. What kind of staff do you need? I dunno. Say: 1 on camera talent, one dynamo who can film/edit, one generalist on the web, an engineer or two, and some outreach folks.

There's all the other pieces of the web that fit into different parts of the campaign like list building, email distribution, fundraising, text messaging, messaging overall, and volunteer development. Those are important, but that's blocking and tackling. In 2 years everyone will be doing that stuff. The really fun part of being in a campaign would be to be the first to create this new news/reporting bureau within a campaign. Start on the ground floor. Do it right and the impact would be huge.

So...now the question. Who can do something like this. Lisa Madigan? Nope. Wouldn't get past all the female guards at the gate. Control, control, control. Top down campaign. Besides with all those women involved, they wouldn't be too keen on hiring a female journalist to do the video part of the operation.

Republicans? Who's running? Bill Brady? I don't think he'd be willing to pull it off. Dan Rutherford? Maybe. But he'd have his sister or someone running it and it wouldn't work. Ron Gidwitz? He could do it, but I think he'd get derailed by all the consultants.

Who's my guess who will do this? Tom Cross. He has the personality to get this going, embrace it, and make it succeed. Look at his good staff: Kevin Artl and David Dring. Those guys know what they're doing, they're sophisticated enough to execute in the field and with the press. Cross is also the one with the courage to think differently and approach the new media from a different perspective.

Will anyone do it? I would say yes. It might not be in time for 2010, but it'll arrive in Illinois sooner or later.

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