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Internet Political Communications (2007)


Vasileios Gkinopoulos
Refereed paper
4th International Political Marketing Conference
Sinaia, Romania 19 April - 21 April 2007

Let me say that I really enjoyed traveling to Romania
and being involved with the
International Political Marketing Conference.

I must say t hat I made a lot of friends and I hope my paper added to the Political Marketing debate

Please read two articles concerning Politics and the Internet

2008 Fundraising
Barack Obama’s first fundraising call managed to get 5,000 people participating in a new donor drive just the fist 24 hours of An Email update just after that emphasised that more important than the numbers themselves is “the way people got involved”.

A new method employed by was for every new donor to have their contribution doubled by someone just like them. Each new stakeholder in the campaign got to meet and exchange messages with someone who committed to match their donation.

The Barack Obama Internet team urged people to “own a piece of this campaign” and for the donation to be doubled by another supporter. The theme in this Email campaign first raises the issue of the special interest industry in Washington and then outlines the threat that special interests will spend more money than ever this time around.

In doing so, the Obama campaign explains that they are not going to take any contributions from Washington lobbyists or political action committees. By relying solely on just ordinary people, the online campaign is trying to transform the political fundraising process by bringing together hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans.

Fundraising matching is a new concept that plays along with new Internet networking technologies. If someone makes an online donation, he or she will be able to read a note from the person who matched their amount, and be able to network with them and start an online conversation.

The Obama campaign admits that the only way they can win is by making this campaign belong to as many people as possible. In doing so, the campaign comes out as not being just for the money, but more importantly being about the people. The online campaign recognises that voters want their voice to be heard and be part in a political process that inspires them. “You can take ownership of our democracy” - make a donation now. Voters can provide a campaign with money and contributions, most importantly; they can take control of the campaign, both in term of fundraising, and in terms of networking in showcasing a direct democracy model.
Fundraising matching comes in total contrast with Senator McCain’s website, where online fundraising is focused on merchandising. Which, in itself, not a bad move, since a lot of people want to get a personal item from the campaign; with a good stream of revenue of money generated. However, we can see how two different candidates utilise the Internet as a medium for political fundraising.

Presidential candidates and early signs of Web 2.0

New Internet based technologies have given the opportunity for candidates to share, network and provide campaign insight to people, and voters that want to get involved.

Barack Obama is leading the pack in terms of new and revolutionary ideas in Internet Political Communications. On the website someone can create a profile, find supporters near to him, plan and attend events, network with friends, create groups become a fundraiser, and Blog. Voters can create a website, and be able to create an individual campaign of their own.

In doing so, voters are constantly reminded that the campaign does not only need their money and their vote, the campaign needs their online presence to help the Political message get trough to undecided and swing voters. Hillary Clinton is close behind, developing her own website tools along with “HillCast”, which is just a rebranded Vlog.

Video casting, and web video is one of the most important features in ’08 campaigning. With the parallel use of YouTube, the candidates engage in Vlogs, and upload numerous videos. The ingredient of a successful video upload can clearly be seen in YouTube. Barack Obama is not only the most popular candidate in terms of channel views; his videos are the ones that people have posted the most comments.

This is because they are fun to watch with people talking along with Barack Obama, and most of them are event videos where the candidate will be walking and talking while rallying people. On a very stark contrast, all the other contenders have videos of TV appearances, or short speeches concerning one issue or another.

The goal of any videos uploaded to YouTube or the candidates’ website is to spread the word, send, share, and link with a friend or a group; but more importantly, a person can have an actual conversation with a candidate by uploading a video response instead of a comment. In doing so we can clearly see a grassroots dialogue being created where any voter can speak face to face with a political figure without having to be in the same room.

Before this web video revolution, the voting public’s access to video of a candidate was through traditional, main steam TV media. News segments, political interviews with journalists and other documentaries. The public, and more importantly the voting public has now the opportunity to watch video of a candidate any time through their own computer. Through video Bloging and YouTube channels, candidates now have the opportunity to have their own video broadcasting channel, which is tailored, directed, and edited by them.

By recognising that web video has many yet to offer as a communication medium, we can clearly recognise voters that want to connect with a candidate and be able to understand a presidential hopeful on a more personal level. People can then post a video to the candidate and help the campaign grow and connect with people that want to be involved.

Supporters of a campaign can be part of political dialogue and be part of the campaign, in shaping political messages and sharing voter concerns and beliefs. The new voters are bound to embrace this sort of communication and use the Internet as a tool for not only choosing their candidate, but also as a tool of direct democracy and influence mechanism.

All the Best
Vasileios Gkinopoulos


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