Our American cousins point the way


If you work in and around politics and have an undying love of the West Wing(guilty on both counts…) then you will probably have watched the launch of Hillary Clinton’s second bid to be America’s first female President with interest. Much will (and remains) to be written about her bid by journalists and commentators, but here’s my two cents: let’s talk about the manner of the launch.

Traditional campaign launches have focused on generating press coverage, with other activities fitting in around this. We have seen it countless times before: a speech, cheering people waving placards in a symbolic location, and possibly a document. And this isn’t something confined to American politics; just look at your average poster launch in the UK. But, perhaps in a sign of things to come, Clinton's launch was different. Instead of focusing on press coverage - secure in the knowledge that the media would cover the announcement anyway - the focus was on digital.

The announcement was trailed in an email and this was followed up with a campaign video, a tweet, and a revamped Facebook page. The results? Well the numbers are impressive:

• A significant boost in her Facebook likes – up to 697,095 at the time of writing;
• Significant coverage on Twitter – her announcement tweet has been retweeted almost 104k times and favourited 103K times
• The launch video has been viewed 3.9 million times.

Beyond these raw numbers lies something much more significant. Not only has this approach allowed Clinton to spread her message far and wide into social media, she has built up a base of people that she can return to via those channels. In a very direct way Team Hillary is capacity building for the rest of the campaign. Over the next few weeks and months we can expect more tweets and Facebook posts encouraging supporters to reach out to their network and donate to support the campaign. And let’s not forget a set of highly targeted emails to supporters asking for much the same.

The lesson from this is not – surprisingly - to focus solely on digital when launching or communicating in the political realm. After all, her team could be confident in generating press coverage almost by default. However, what it does show is the merits of a more balanced approach, one that puts digital on the same level as traditional press engagement.

Hillary may have lost out in 2008 to a candidate more in tune with the digital age, but with this launch it’s clear her campaign team has learned some of those lessons.

Hat tip to graphic designer Rick Wolff for creating a typeface inspired byHillary Clinton campaign logo.


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