Compared to the 2006 midterm elections, political campaigns are more easily able to find and make appeals to likely supporters in increasingly personal and successful ways, says Laura Gross, president of Scott Circle Communications. Gross volunteers for Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) presidential campaign, in addition to representing various clients.
She notes that political campaigns are more often segmenting outreach to individual neighborhoods and demographics with specially tailored messages.
“It's evolved this campaign season to where it's not just ‘Joe Biden' sending out an e-mail; it's my neighbor three blocks away whom I've never met,” Gross adds. “They can say, ‘We know you're a woman who's concerned about certain issues,' even though they don't know exactly who I am. The micro-targeting gets more and more powerful because you feel people are talking just to you.”
Campaigns generally have access to cutting edge communications tools, but grassroots organizers are catching up, taking advantage of similar technologies to organize supporters for their causes, says Jon Melzer, director of online campaigns for OnPoint Advocacy.
“The use of e-mails and online social networking to bring people together physically to promote a candidate or cause represents the melding of the very latest in electronic communications with tried-and-true grassroots outreach,” he says.
- Physical gatherings are the cornerstone of effective grassroots organizing
- Lower costs and greater sophistication of data-mining software allow increasingly personalized outreach to the public
- Corporations and advocacy groups often follow the lead of political campaigns in adopting the technology