Sorry, The Agitator will keep coming back to this theme for at least sixteen months!

There's much for nonprofits to learn from the prez candidates' use of technology in their campaigns.

Here's the best assessment we've seen of what's happening and what's not, from Edward Cone writing in the somewhat obscure CIO Insight. Please read it.

Some key take-aways:

  • Use of online video is “ready for prime time; capitalizing upon social networks is still a puzzle.
  • If technology is grafted onto the campaign after basic decision processes and reporting relationships have been established, there's little hope the technology will make the contribution it's capable of.
  • Campaigns increasingly will be awash in information about individual voters … but campaigns are unlikely, in this cycle, to master the complexities of integrating all of their info streams into a complete profile of each voter.
  • And the critical corollary: translating the voter info the campaign does possess in its databanks into concrete, targeted voter interaction in the field is still the ultimate challenge for campaigns … Mr. Internet Director, meet Ms. Field Director!
  • The “Net person” has risen in prominence in most campaigns, but still tends to be viewed and used as a channel manager rather than a top strategic player.
  • Even if the campaign staff gets it right, the candidates are still where the rubber meets the road — many do not yet “get” that typical campaign platitudes fall flat when communicated to the online audience, which has a “zero bull****” tolerance.

Three challenges seem to have direct application for nonprofits:

  • How best to conceive and structure the role of “the Internet person” in your organization;
  • How to translate “virtual” enthusiasm into real world involvement and impact; and,
  • How to integrate — both the digital info itself, and the new communications channels with the old.

Joe Trippi, of Dean campaign fame, now with John Edwards, gets the last word:

“Just because you've built an amazing network to support your candidate, it doesn't make you immune to Kryptonite … The Net is not so sticky it will stick with you through anything. If you live by the Web, you can die by it.”

Tom

PS: Thanks to techPresident, the best daily source on prez campaigns' use of technology, for the heads-up on this piece.

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