Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Power of New Media

In the 1870s and 80s the most prominent Republican in West Virginia was a Clarksburg native named Nathan Goff. He served in the Civil War as a major, was captured and held in a notorious Confederate prison, then earned his law degree and entered state Republican politics. Goff was well known and popular. One of his most substantial weapons was a powerful voice that delivered rich oratory to major state cities and isolated hollows alike. He never missed a chance to speak to the people. It served as his means to connect with as many voters as possible because he could learn their needs and explain to them how he and the Republican Party could serve them.

Some Republicans have learned that they can get their ideas to those same country roads and back hollows today. Speaking and personal contact is still of primary importance, but even Nathan Goff would tell you that you cannot cover every village in a district or in the state. The new media gives candidates that opportunity if they can use it properly.

I don't mean to ruffle any feathers here, but it always irks me when someone announces their candidacy and does not have a website up the day of their official announcement. Many times I have found myself saying "wow, so and so is running for that seat, I'd like to know more about them!" The worst thing a Republican candidate can have happen is that they announce that they are running, people look them up, and only see Charleston Gazette stories about them. On the day of announcement, people want to know who you are and what you stand for. Don't let the Gazette or someone else's news coverage define who you are right off the bat. Get that website up to define your image as a candidate before someone does it for you.

Next, have a presence on at least Facebook. Around the country you see candidates at all levels setting up pages. Rick Perry, running for re-election as Governor of Texas, has a very active site. Betty Ireland is not currently running for anything, but has activity on her page. Statements on current events remind people that she is still around and concerned about the issues. Most candidates will issue regular statements on the issues of the day, then interact little as others argue on what was said. Facebook serves as a comnnection point between candidates and supporters. Extreme reactions can and do sometimes occur, so these pages must be monitored.

The new media is there and candidates should use it to its fullest potential, or at the very least get a minimum level of exposure so voters can use a very convenient media to get to know them.

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