It's More Than Just Being There…

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The internet – and bloggers – are going to play a major role in this upcoming presidental election…

Several major politicians have already announced their intention to run for president. They have all included video of their announcements on their sites:

First to announce was Barack Obama, the Senator from Illinois. His video is on his campaign web site, and can be seen here:

Following soon after Senator Obama’s announcement was one by Hillary Clinton, the Senator from New York. Her announcement video is also on her campaign web site, and is available there for download in Quicktime format.

In the most recent announcement, Joe Biden, the Senator from Delaware, tossed his hat in the ring as well. His announcement video is on his campaign web site.

I’m sure you noticed that in my discussion of each announcement video, I gave a different level of visibility to each of the candidates’ material.

I can assure you, that was not an editorial decision on my part…

Barack Obama was the only one of these candidates that had a way for bloggers to grab the code needed to embed his video into a post or web site. (He uses Brightcove). You can also email it right from the video as well – even in these embeded copies. And all of those emails still flow through Sen. Obama’s web site. His site is very sparse, however, and has very little information on it. It could use a blog.

Hillary Clinton has more video based content on her site then any other candidate, but doesn’t offer a way for bloggers to embed any of it into their posts. The only video option available on the site was for a download of her announcement video in Quicktime format. As big an Apple fan as I am, the only reason to offer video in Quicktime is because it is the format used by professional video editors. (That could indicate that she is more interested in courting the traditional media then bloggers.) The site itself does have a blog, and Sen. Clinton responds to comments posted there via video segments.

Joe Biden’s video is only available on his campaign site. There’s no way to use it in blogs or even download it. The site itself has prominent links to YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and Flickr, but they feel like they were added as part of a ‘how to be relevant’ checklist. If it isn’t real, people will see through it. Sen. Biden has a ‘blog’, but it only seemed to have reprints of news articles.

This isn’t a political post. I am not commenting on anyone’s message or politics – just the way they are looking to communicate it online…

Being on the internet means something different in this election. Having a site isn’t enough any more. These candidates will need to microchunk their messages, and make them available broadly. They need to be reaching audiences not just through The New York Times and CNN, but via blogs and iPods as well . More than anything, they need to reach out to people and talk to them directly without all of the spin. (I’d love to see them all have their own blogs – and actually post into them themselves.) In this election, they can’t simply hide behind well produced web sites and scripted media events. They really need to make themselves accessible.

This time around, the web is social…

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  • http://innonate.com/ Nate Westheimer

    Yes, and how many of them are using Facebook “Share” tags or Blogger’s “Blog This” buttons? The sharing of code is one way of help things go viral — in this case campaign message in video format — but I’d like to extend your argument to encompass all tools for sharing, be it email, social networks, news aggregation and voting sites, or autonomous blogs.

  • http://blogs.zdnet.com/social steve

    I totally agree. See my blog post “YouTube on the campaign trail

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  • http://www.thenewsmarket.com/videoeverywhere Brooks Gibbins

    While Brightcove is making their pitch to own the ‘monetized video content space’, there’s another player – The NewsMarket – who not only provides the video player and the embed capabilities but also – uniquely – a one click ability for broadcast and tier-one media to download the raw broadcast and streaming video files and a built-in network of over 10,000 media outlets globally.

    http://www.thenewsmarket.com/videoeverywhere

    (Fair-disclosure: I am an executive with The NewsMarket and also an ex-Multex’r so whatever John says, I tend to agree with.)

    Now my comment on the impact of the new media world on this election and the importance of not only having video on your site but also on ensuring that you are providing seamless access for all key audiences to take and use that video in the format that they need…

    Immediacy and reach will be defining moments in this presendential election to a degree not seen in any other election in history.

    As the nominees pour into the race, most still comment that it’s early – and oh how right they are. While just under two years away, the candidates’ direct ability to communicate and the voting populations’ direct access to information, as it happens, without the media even having time to react and shape opinion will have a profound impact. For the candidates, it will seem more like eight years as opinion and momentum is reshaped – again in real time.

    John is right on here – providing the ability to embed is critical. I would add that enabling the media to use that video as well is key. Without BOTH of these abilities, and those of podcasts, you are dramatically limiting your reach and immediacy and therefore, your relevance and impact.

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  • http://www.evoca.com Murem Sharpe

    In response to what you aptly suggested to political candidates: “They need to be reaching audiences not just through The New York Times and CNN, but via blogs and iPods as well”, I’d like to introduce you to Evoca (www.evoca.com), an innovative voice-to-web service. Evoca gives politicians exactly the tools they need to give voters a voice – directly online. In the 2006 elections – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa are two notable examples – and now again in the 2008 presidential races, beginning with Chris Dodd (www.chrisdodd.com), voters can go to a candidate’s website or blog to record a message using the EvocaMic, our in-browser recorder. Any web site visitor can listen to the voters’ and candidates’ voices through our Flash players – no downloads or “white screens of boredom” to deal with. Candidates also can get a unique phone number for voters to record a message directly online any time using any phone or carrier, since we are a web service. We call it Virtual Voice Mail. Naturally any blogger can post an EvocaMic on a blog to invite readers to voice opinions about any topic – political or otherwise. Podcasting using Evoca is easy: we auto-generate RSS code for every Evoca profile and group. Check us out! Everyone’s voice counts.

  • Asa

    “The site itself does have a blog, and Sen. Clinton responds to comments posted there via video segments.”

    Actually, Clinton has a placeholder for a blog, not a blog (yet).

    John Edwards has gone straight to YouTube for all his video needs, and has a very active blog, with all the bells and whistles of a community blogging site in addition to the official posts. Nice to see a candidate willing to let posts that might not be exactly “on message” show up on their blog.

  • http://www.thedigitaledgeblog.com John

    I’ll need to take a look at what John Edwards is doing on his site. It would be great to find candidates with an understanding of the viral/social nature of the web. It does run counter to the mindset of total control typically associated with running a political campaign.

    Also – thanks for the correction about Sen. Clinton’s blog.

    -j

  • http://mickelehsoap.blogspot.com Michael Markman

    You lost some cred with me by gettin’ all definitive about Obama being first to annonce and first to allow emedding– all the while ignoring the first Democrat to announce, John Edwards, and failing to evaluate his use of blogging and the Web.

    Do you know what you’re talking about, or are you blowing smoke?

    Here’s his announcement from December 27th 2006.

  • http://mickelehsoap.blogspot.com Michael Markman
  • http://www.thedigitaledgeblog.com John

    Thanks Michael. I appreciate your point about John Edwards being first to announce, and apologize for not having gotten that correct in the post. In response to Asa’s comment above, I said I would look in to what the Edwards campaign has done, and will discuss that in another post.

    My goal in making this post was to emphasize the underlying need for candidates to embrace the web in a different way – a more social way – then had been done in prior campaigns. It was a post about process, and not an attempt to promote – or deliberately ignore – any candidate in this race.

    While I do wish I had correctly included John Edwards as a part of this overview, I still stand by the main thesis of this post – summarized in the last paragraph – on the changing role the web will play in this election.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • http://www.theharperteam.com/blog john harper

    Can’t believe I haven’t stumbled across (not using Stumble) your site before. Ratchet up another subscriber.

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