September, 16th 2009

Lessons from David Vitter's text program

– Liz Mair

I have a new post up at the HynesSights blog this morning: "Text-Ed for Political Candidates."

Here's an excerpt:

Last night, The Hill posted this little item, setting out some interesting tidbits about Louisiana Sen. David Vitter’s text/mobile/SMS program, on its website for all to see.  Per The Hill:

a political operative recently received a text message from the campaign of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), he of Deborah Jeane Palfrey fame. Vitter’s camp went with a cheap service, and his message included an ad for ... what else? A dating service.

“Is it true love?” asks the ad. The accompanying link guides users to a website where they can find out if their “crush” feels the same way about them…

This is probably not what the Vitter campaign was banking on when it deployed what is seen as the cutting edge in the world of US political eCampaigns these days, and The Hill’s reporting on this has probably caused some poor campaign staffer a bit of a headache.  But the good news is, this little incident may in time be proven to have been an effective lesson where political use of new media tools is concerned.  More and more, campaigns are looking to text as the future, enabling them to track who attended what event and communicate often very specific messages to them—“make sure you attend the caucus tomorrow night at Lincoln High School in Des Moines” or “Can you bring a friend along to help us get the word out this Saturday?” thus ensuring a greater probability that the recipient of the text will, in fact, do what the campaign wants and not forget or unwittingly spend time doing something else.  But with text, as with many things in life, it’s not so much whether you have something as whether it’s right for the job at hand.



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