Building Successful Political Campaign Websites
We're a month away from thousands of elections around the country and only a year away from Election Day 2008. New Media Campaigns was founded as a company devoted to political campaign websites and we still have many political clients - so we've been watching the season closely, and paying particular attention to the different online campaigns (read more about New Media Campaigns' founding as a company devoted to political campaign websites and our evolution since).
Four years ago, this post would have had to been devoted to the online strategies for a handful of big budget races, as they were the only ones who could afford to be online. However, it's now a requisite for every type of campaign, on any level to have an online component to educate, engage, and sway voters. The growing popularity has proved a very cost effective way for candidates to both win votes and raise contributions.
However, there are many "political website companies" that have only joined the game to make a quick buck and don't create innovative or effective sites. At New Media Campaigns, our campaigns have succeeded online because we are here to help them succeed online.
We treat each campaign as an individual, meaning we don't use templates -every campaign site that we work on is custom designed for that specific campaign. Many companies paint themselves as a political design firm, but all they really do is continue to regurgitate the same design over and over with a different color scheme and new photos. In order to succeed online, your online campaign needs to be specific to your campaign and message in the same way that a direct mail piece is.
Excite people with your design! While the content of a political website is important, the value of a well designed website can't be underestimated. The Internet is no longer some new trend - voters are veterans of the web and have been to dozens of political websites. They'll instantly be more interested in yours if your design is exciting, unique, and professional. This is another problem with templates or enlisting a random campaign volunteer to put together your site. It's important to trust your design to web design professionals, especially if they're political web design professionals (shameless plug, I know), even if that means you have to pay a little more.
Open up the lines of communication! A site is more than just a venue for you to post your ideas - it's an opportunity to have a dialogue with voters. Have a contact form, host a blog, register volunteers! When a candidate visits someone's house, he/she encourages the voter to ask questions and engage the candidate, a campaign website should be no different! Allow voters to submit questions and engage the campaign, and make sure to get back to them. Also, your site is an extremely cost effective way to gather volunteer information and keep in touch with them.
Our company has had a lot of success building political websites, and it's because we build each one with care, passion, and creativity. I hope these hints were helpful in beginning to know how to maximize your online campaign. If you have any other ideas or comments, please be in touch!
Lead Project Manager