Half-Right on the Massachusetts Left

I read David Meerman Scott‘s article on the Huffington Post today, about how the social media divide may be very telling in the close Massachusetts Senate race.

I believe that David is half-right. Read the article (it’s well-thought-out). In it, David decries that poor efforts the Coakley campaign has made to use new media to reach voters, compared to the Brown campaign, and especially to the prior Obama campaign.

He concludes:

The Coakley campaign is underestimating the importance of social media and the new rules of marketing and PR.

John McCain relied on what worked to elect George W. Bush and he lost mainly because of social media. Now Martha Coakley is relying on the playbook that elected Ted Kennedy and she may lose because of social media too.

Now, while it is true that the Coakley campaign does appear to be pretty sparse in its use of networking tools, I think the most substantive divide is not the tools – it’s the passion. Passion + networking will bring about success. However, networking tools without passion won’t cut it.

Martha Coakley, the candidate, is not inspiring (positive) passion. Scott Brown is. And that is a primary reason why his networking efforts will be more successful. It’s not just how you highlight the use of tools. It’s whether you ignite people, who will then use the tools themselves. There’s no excuse for any campaign to poorly employ Facebook, Twitter, and other tools. But these approaches cannot, in and of themselves, inspire people when the candidate does not.

True in business. True in politics. True everywhere.

Or am I missing something here?

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Five in the Morning 012009

5yellowSince it’s Inauguration Day in the U.S. we’ll start off with…

Obama, the new King of Branding (from Laura Ries). Barack Obama is not just our new President but a new type of leader, one like we have never seen before. Not only does he understand politics, but he also understands branding. Plus, she ties in the BlackBerry factor…

Don’t just dream. Do something. An inspiring story on William Arruda’s blog, about Mary McLeod Bethune. Sometimes we have a goal that for some reason or another doesn’t work and is not achieved.  Should we give up?  No!

Targeting the right…or wrong…social media influencers. Dead-on thoughts from Mack Collier at MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog. Can you name a few recent examples of companies using social media to embrace, empower, and excite their customer evangelists?

Where would we be without lots of lists! Small Business Trends gives us two for today: The Ultimate Small Business Twitter List (you may find some new follows here), and a Top Blogs List. Thanks Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends)!

The new Computer Science Corporation logo. I think the logo itself is pretty pedestrian, but the angled “projection” elements used in collateral materials is pretty decent visually. From that Brand New blog.

AND, just for fun – if you really have way too much time on your hands, every Super Bowl commercial ever shown. On Adland, via those Brand Flakes for Breakfast folks.

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Illinois: Blags-to-Riches FAIL

(Chicago, IL) The ongoing investigation of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich took a startling turn today, when it was revealed that his original intention was to “sell” Senator Barack Obama’s Senate seat to a prominent blogger, thereby creating the first “virtual senator” in American history.

Blagojevich Corruption Probe“I was jealous, OK?” snapped the Governor, when confronted about the Blags-to-Riches scheme. “Obama had so much success with social media, that I figured I’d one-up him by sending – well, sort of sending – the first virtual legislator to Washington.

“Who cares about Illinois? This is about legacy, man!”

Rumors circulated that Blago had narrowed his choices down to well-known liberal blogger Arianna Huffington, and Instapundit’s conservative Glenn Reynolds. Bidding was fierce for the seat, including Arianna’s Lear Jet, a llama farm, and the entire University of Tennessee system (excluding the football them, as that might be a conflict of interest with the Fighting Illini).

The scheme unravelled when spurned blogger Andrew Sullivan leaked word of the bidding after his PayPal account was maxed out and his candidacy fell by the wayside.

Informed by the Chicago Tribune (whose bid was also thwarted by a chapter 11 filing) that nominating a candidate from another state that would only cast votes via Twitter might actually be against the rules, the Governor looked back blankly and said, “Rules? You mean there are rules?”

(Previous StickyFigure spoofs)

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If I were John McCain right now…

I’d try to finish off the campaign with 4 primary words to brand the Republican ticket:

Proven, Principled, Patriotic Leadership

The McCain/Palin ticket can lay legitimate claim to all four of those words (yes, I know, many would dispute that, but bear with me…), and can project a positive reason to vote Republican. Also, every one of those words can be used to highlight Obama/Biden weaknesses by contrast.

In uncertain times, this is the type of leadership many people want. That picture ought to be positively projected, lest McCain/Palin be portrayed merely as a couple of negative snipes.

On the other hand (fair balance), I don’t think the Democratic ticket should change strategy at all. They’re tapping into voter dissatisfaction with the Change message, and if the Republican ticket cannot neutralize it and present an even more compelling vision, there’s a lot of built-in momentum there. Just muzzle Jawin’ Joe Biden and keep trying to tie McCain to the Bush administration. Very effective, at least for the Democratic base.

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P.S. – just found this article: How much did Biden get wrong (in the debate)? Wow – that’s quite a list!

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Slogan-stealing

Barack Obama has built his presidential candidacy bid on the theme of “Change.” It has become a slogan, a piece of common political parlance in this season, which, from a marketing perspective, is a great accomplishment. While you’d like to have a bunch of people who can articulately explain what they’d like to see by way of “change,” their votes count just as much as those who can only say that they want something different than the status quo, without being able to explain or defend what a candidate actually stands for.

The McCain ticket understands this, and they want to steal the thunder by saying that they (the “outsiders,” the “mavericks,” the proven agents of actual change in the past) are the real candidates representing change.

And, of course, the Obama campaign is doing everything they can to tie McCain/Palin to the 8 years of the prior administration. While McCain/Palin now tries to paint Obama/Biden into the corner of representing the failed policies of a do-nothing Congress.

I think Obama will be able to maintain the veneer of being the primary change agent in this election, because he’s owned the message longer, and tapped deeply into voter dissatisfaction. However, the Republicans are skillfully chipping away at this brand image. Will Obama keep the change? It’ll be an interesting couple of months coming up, in this branding warfare about who truly represents change!

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