Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jeff Rosen for DA, June 8th Election, Social Media

San Jose and Santa Clara County are having a few interesting races in this upcoming June 8th election. There is District 9 Councilmember Candidate; moderate democrat Jim Cogan, the Chief of Staff for Republican San Jose Councilmember Pete Constant, who is running against a slew of other candidates including the second cousin of former Councilmember and current Santa Clara County Supervisor David Cortese, Robert Cortese. I know both of these men personally, I appreciate both of them for their own qualities but whomever I choose to vote for is my choice, obviously and I don't need to tell any of you that, I will point out that while he is part of a political family, Rob is a bit of a political outsider and speaks his mind.

I will also tell you that I was working on Jeff Rosen's Campaign for District Attorney as a volunteer campaign coordinator concentrating on social media and online outreach. I actually wrote a memo regarding the purposes, process and measures of success for Social Media and Web 2.0 tools in campaigns and outreach that is not only used by their campaign but used by my current office and a few other places as well.

I joined his campaign for a number of reasons, first and foremost, I needed to keep in the game. Why did I choose to stay with his campaign? A friend recommended that I help him out and the more I witnessed Jeff in person the more I liked him. He is dedicated, intelligent, humble and actually listens. I have worked with current incumbent Dolores Carr before on a few issues while with the City of San Jose and while I have no doubt she can get results, she was never my favorite person to work with.

One thing that makes this race particularly interesting is that you have a District Attorney running against his boss; an incumbent, right wing female DA. Off the bat various organizations that traditionally supported the incumbent, such as Police Officers Associations (POAs) from various cities were supporting Jeff. Jeff also had been on a role of fundraising and is currently out raising his opponent (also rather interesting when going against an incumbent).

A few more votes will go Rosen's way as a result of his name being before Carr's on the absentee ballot. I know this may sound minor but when that choice is positioned that far down the ticket and the race is bi-partisan, order does count for a percentage of the voters and a growing number of people use Vote by Mail.

One thing that has to be remembered about this election is that while it is a "low tier" election and is non-partisan, the electorate encompasses a huge area; the entirety of Santa Clara County. A total of 1,304 square miles with a population of about 1,700,000. For most higher level campaigns, the money would be there for a larger ground campaign; canvasing all the precincts, mailing to as many households as possible, yard signs galore, the works. In this campaign, the money and man power would just not be there for this level of campaign.

Now we come to the most interesting (to me) aspect of this race; the social media integration. First, we set up an e-office and utilized cloud computing for the generation of materials and releases for internal work. These efforts enabled internal communication, work efficiency and synergy were at peak performance.

We also set up a twitter account and a facebook fan page to support our ground work. After 2 months of updates and entries Dolores Carr finally put one up. While Jeff's posts were regular and had 1-2 a week, Carr's have been sporadic and relatively uninformative and not as engaging as Jeff's.

The main reason that we set up the social media aspects were to support what ground efforts we had. Any media we garnered, any news, any information at all had to be spread as far as possible with minimal costs, hence the beauty of Social Media.

After I left, Jeff's hard working team was able to continue and build upon the efforts I assisted with; they continued to grow their campaign and used their social media tools to make their efforts easier.The Rosen campaign has utilized facebook and twitter to set up phone banking, walk days for canvasing and to spread the latest and greatest news about the campaign. Taking it a step further, the team has also incorporated text and mobile phone based outreach with reminders and updates to the campaign. For a lower tier campaign in a primary election, the amount of effort and innovation this team is using continues to impress me.

Recently the team sent out a press release speaking to their efforts. Here is the text of their Release:
For immediate release:
Technology key for local campaigns: Rosen Campaign using online social networking to get its message out.

Jeff Rosen’s campaign for District Attorney of Santa Clara County is using text campaigning and social networking in innovative ways. Social Networking and text campaigning have been used by many national and state campaigns, but the Rosen campaign is finding these tools are also compatible for grassroots campaigning at the local level.

Text campaigning, famously employed by the Obama campaign, is still a recent development in the political landscape. The Rosen campaign is using text campaigning to share the latest news with its volunteers and supporters. When supporters text Rosen to 388873 they become part of the campaign’s mobile network, receiving texts regarding campaign updates, voting information, and volunteering information.

Rosen is also using social networking tools to spread his message. The “Jeff Rosen for District Attorney” Facebook page has 523 fans, more than four times as many as his opponent. These fans have helped spread Rosen’s message to thousands of voters on Facebook by sharing links and promoting events.

The Rosen campaign has found that these cost effective tools are perfect for campaigning in the traditional media expensive Santa Clara County. Text messaging and social networking also allow busy individuals to be involved in campaigns because it integrates the campaign into their daily habits. It is especially an effective tool in Silicon Valley, where voters are especially tech savvy and draws in a younger voting demographic than traditionally votes in the District Attorney’s race.

Rosen, who is running against the incumbent DA, is integrating his online and mobile network with traditional campaign methods to spread his message to as many voters as possible before the June 8th election.