of the 03-09-04 Meeting of the Rocky Mountain
Internet Users Group
(RMIUG):"Electing With Clicks"
The meeting started at 7:00 with about
40 people in attendance. Josh ran
the meeting tonight and introduced a few
committee members, and thanked the
RMIUG sponsors for their support:
generously provides food and
beverages at the meetings. The company provides
Creative and Technical
Talent for Web, Interactive Media, Marketing
Communications and Software
-- a Colorado-based software company that
provides semi-custom web-based applications,
is the sponsor of the RMIUG
NCAR -- for the use of their wonderful
Our newest sponsor, Copy Diva (http://www.copydiva.com)
marketing project management, marketing
communications consulting, and web
content development is the new AV sponsor
Joe Pezzillo - Citizens for Verifiable
Encouraged people to go to Coloradovoter.net
Electing with clicks
Josh asked warm up questions and introduced
the topic and the two
Matt Statman (firstname.lastname@example.org),
the co-founder and Director of Client
Services for Motive Design+Interactive.
Matt's company is a Denver based
brand and interactive marketing agency,
and built DeanForAmerica.org.
Bobby Clark (email@example.com)
is a recent alumnus of Dean for
America. He was one of the earliest staff
members and he is the one who led
the development of the Dean campaign's groundbreaking
The Dean campaign is widely recognized as
the first presidential campaign to
effectively use the internet to build a
national grassroots organization for
meetings and fundraising.
Internet is really important in elections
today. Tonight we're here to talk
about what tools and techniques seem to
work, and what candidates are going
to be doing from now on. Tonight's discussion
will also include what
deanforamerica.org means to internet marketing
How did a Colorado shop get hooked up with
the Dean campaign?
Bobby Clark came to Matt and asked him
if he wanted to pitch the business to
Dean. Bobby didn't even have a photo to
start with. They did it in 3 days.
They did the Welcome to Dean for America
page using photos from the West
Wing w/Martin Sheen.
When they saw it, they liked it and wanted
it up in like 3 or 4 days.
They only had about 5 digital photographs.
They took a strategic approach -
which meant asking several key questions:
What are Dean's attributes?
What are the key considerations of a Presidential
Campaign? ... etc.
They decided on three things for the site
-Entice - Creative Strategy
-Engage - Content Strategy
-Activate - Trigger Strategy - (June 23rd
picture with all the signs)
-Approachable & comfortable for their
-Had to be a strong reflection of Dean's
personality - for example, a
physician speaking on health care reform.
-Had to be effective in elevating his stature.
So they created a strong
visual sense that something BIG was taking
(pictures of the initial Dean campaign)
-Offer fresh, relevant content on a daily
basis that would drive repeat
visits to the site
-Utilize rich media to deliver a one to
one Dean experiences to the visitor
-Deliver customized content to targeted
support base segments
-Provide everything a visitor would expect,
plus some more
YOU MUST make it media rich and interactive.
How do you take it to the next
Q - What did you use for content management?
A- They used a content management system
eventually called Brikalage.
Brikalage is an open source content management
system based on the
programming language "mason."
It allowed them to break the site into
components that they could then syndicate
to other sites.
Q - How did you choose the domain name?
A - Dean for America was chosen a long time
ago. They swear it wasn't
influenced by the West Wing, but in an early
issue, a guy holds up a napkin
that says Bartlett For America.
Q- Is there a logging system that tracks
all of the user actions to help
A - We'll get to that later
Bobby Clark was pretty much alone, and ended
up with 20 people on the web
The idea was every day on the site you
had some kind of new headline.
Examples of targeted messages, like the
Advocate magazine cover.
Trigger Strategy - ACTIVATE:
Student websites. Online petition doubled
the database site.
The Online Pulse of the Campaign. Led to
a website that enticed people to
learn more about Howard Dean and became
a truly grassroots campaign.
Q - Would you have done anything differently,
A - They weren't afraid to do Anything,
whatever it was, they'd try it.
So: (in this kind of environment you have
to) capitalize on momentum, don't
stop every second questioning whether or
not it's perfect - just keep
rolling with it.
Bobby expressed his thanks to Matt. Bobby
was blown away by the campaign
manager - in early October of 2002. And
the web presence at that time was
truly horrid and negative, visually.
They started in Jan with $160,000 in the
bank. He'd (Dean) never spent more
than $750,000. Bobby thought the internet
budget was way too low.
In a campaign, stuff happens immediately.
Reacting quickly often meant
calling Matt at midnight. They had about
10,000 people on a list, and
somebody was sending a couple hundred emails
at a time via MS Outlook.
Politics is all about perception. They needed
to get him noticed by raising
money and limiting expenditures.
If it hadn't been for clawing their way
to recognition in those early days
... it wouldn't have happened. They really
had to get people to pay
Music and media is also about perception
They dropped their lives and went to Vermont
because they cared what was
happening in this country.
Q - [something to the effect of what were
the actual numbers again?] A -
They raised 23 and 1/2 mill online, but
53 million dollars was raised
indirectly as a result of the online presence.
They listened to people: There were dozens
of websites for Dean, and BLOGS
online. They embraced it/them, rather than
competing with them - they
directed people to them - and in that way
They had to be very careful not to support
grassroots activities obviously.
Joe Trippi [Dean's Campaign Manager] talked
a lot about how it HAD to be
decentralized, this campaign. How it had
to take away from big companies
and pushed out to America.
They started linking [Dean's site] to sites
that weren't owned by GE or
Disney or other large corporations.
At the end of the day, they felt they were
only seeing part of those out
there who were for Dean, but in exchange
for that they engaged 100's of
1000s of people for the first time ever
in presidential politics. They
engaged people in a meaningful way that
they'd never had in a presidential
350,000 people contributed to the campaign,
most under $20.
On the day of Wisconsin, his mom gave another
$100. People felt it was SO
important. $819,000 in one day, on June
30th, at the end of the second
And then almost $800,000 again in one day.
It worked because they
deliberately set out to give away power.
Bobby had to help Howard Dean open
"he had an approach to politics that
was fundamentally different - he was
the carpool dad, would drive them to hockey
practice - then he'd go to
Montpelier and do government. He wasn't
sequestered in a mansion, so the
New England town meeting model was natural
Joe Trippi was a passionate advocate of
decentralized campaigns. He helped
win Iowa for Gary Hart.
It was [designed] to engage citizens to
participate, and to trust THEM, not
to control it/them. People were posturing
in markets. It was all about
trying to engage people at the grass roots
and letting them take control of
They got swamped by mass media in the end,
on some negative items ...
Q - What did he [Dean] think of it?
A - Dean got it, enough that he wanted it
- he got how the internet was
enabling the grassroots.
One seminal moment was when Dean heard
about meetup.com. Meet Up is a
private for profit enterprise. When they
put the logo on the web site, they
more than doubled their registration.
It was Trippi's idea for Dean to have a
Meet Up in the New Year.
Hundreds showed up a year ahead of the primaries.
All the national media
talked about it.
One of the opportunities was to connect
people together. They started as
storytelling exercises, with people voicing
their opinions and sharing their
stories. All were volunteers.
It's almost like church for the Dean campaign.
Trigger Strategy: "Activate"
Coordinate local events
Tell A Friend
"XYZ for DEAN" sites
Vote to shape campaign policy
Download flyers, banners, collateral
HTML updates to forward on
BLOG - it's like an online campfire. It's
not a thread, but similar.
His mom sent him an email the day before
Wisconsin that there were trolls on
the BLOG. He couldn't believe it.
Q - how did they control the trolls?
A - they didn't, that's the point. Free
speech is messy, democracy is messy.
Things became so bad (trolling) in the
days leading up to Iowa, that they
had to have people register.
Q - did you track market segment/information
of site traffic?
A - he wishes they'd done more. They used
Convio ASP (working with Kerry
and Lieberman, back-ended by an Oracle database)
- and Convio had tracking
tools, but they never really did that. They
were in the ASPs sandbox, as
that's how ASPs work.
So they started hiring developers to create
tools and do all sorts of
things. But the Developers didn't like Convio.
But the online processing
system was great.
They talked to one of the big CRM companies
(like Siebel), but it was
millions of dollars. For a campaign, it
was just too much.
Trippi had opposition to segmentation.
It's one message, to everyone.
They deliberately didn't use it. He (Bobby)
thinks it was a mistake, that
they should've done it.
One of the things they tried to do was
let the targeting happen by
plugging into people's existing social networks.
The Farm Workers used
meetings to build their money; so in April
or May of 2003, they came up w/a
field model based solely on living room
meetings. Their work was to go to a
meeting and recruit someone to have a meeting
in their home, and invite at
least 50 people; show Dean video, and not
talk policy, but the host or
hostess would storytell and everyone around
the room would tell their
Q - What did you learn about the political
A - That there's an enormous amount of entrenched
power that resists change.
A funny thing happened w/Gore. When Gore
endorsed Dean, they [other
candidates] all went into a panic. Gephardt
was going to take down Dean
even if it killed them. Two 527's started
running ads against Dean -
drug companies sponsored one (Fund for Growth)
- it was an elderly couple
walking out of a house - horrible ad - "body
piercing ... blah blah ....
should go back to Vermont."
They used it to their advantage.
Then, this really hurt the campaign-- a
democratic group was started by some
that had left Kerry and Gephardts' campaign,
that included George
Steinbrenner - the whole ad was Bin Laden's
face. Danger - Be Afraid -
Incompetence -- (message was if you vote
for Howard Dean your life is
in danger -it was payback)
Kerry's campaign found a 4 year old clip
where Dean was comparing primaries
to caucuses - and critical of caucuses.
It wasn't specifically attacking
Iowa caucuses, But the clip ran 8-10 days
before them and it was as if he
was saying Iowans are like idiots.
Matt Gross had the Dean blog, the early
one. And Trippi was watching it if
Gross and the other guy weren't. When suggestions
were made, they would do
Q - Volunteer for Dean since Sacramento
speech. Really just a statement ..
blah blah ...
Bobby said Howard is announcing what he's
doing on March 18th with Dean for
America - to follow though with it, for
They'd create scenarios for action - people
do it because of emotional
scenarios - Rick Santoro had made some comments
about homosexuals, and they
called for contributions as an expression
of outrage. And they learned it
was all about context - people want to engage.
When Ashcroft was touring
around promoting the patriot act, they printed
out the petition and stood
with the wall of paper when he got off the
They threw up a goal to give everyone something
to work for, which really
hadn't been done before. The comments on
the blog: "finally a candidate we
This is what they succeeded in at the end
of the day - that individuals can
effect change, piece by piece, towards a
Trivia Q - What was the first project that
Motive and Bobby Clark did
A - The Colorado ... (something, missed
Matt - what can be learned from this for
consumer based marketing? You see
Ben and Jerry's and Vans do this with getting
kids out there - but how would
it be done?
Comment from audience on Proctor and Gambles
doing this with house parties
Dan - did the Dean campaign use any RSS
Bobby - yeah, on the BLOG
Q - What happened to the Dean space sites?
A - It was a way to create community sites
and syndicate fed out content.
Q - Josh - how much of it was Dean's personality,
and how much was the site?
A - Was that in October? (Bobby) - I think
a lot of it WAS Dean. In the
early days they used the site to give people
a sense of who Dean was.
Matt's organization really helped a lot
with that. In the fall, they
started focusing more on process, and they
focused less on him. And for
those just tuning in, it left him to be
defined by them, or ill defined ...
Comment - Matt - don't undervalue or undermine
the value of creating a brand
type identity, grassroots or no - you have
to say there's something big
Bobby -- there's always an adoption curve.
And at some point, as it begins
to tip - with the campaign, they didn't
really allow for the campaign to
evolve. They always turned the camera on
the audience. But
in Iowa, they thought the Deanies were a
little weird and rabid. And
he had a filter mic, on the clip from Iowa,
and they didn't show the crowd.
The truth was you couldn't hear him at all
over the crowd, which is why he
The video camera footage on the CNN documentary
shows HOW out of context
that footage of Dean was, without the sound
of the audience etc. That
particular clip was shown 900 times between
Iowa and New Hampshire, and
obviously had a huge effect.
Q - blogging software?
A - Blogger.com
Bobby -- Dailykos.com
= popular BLOG sites. Or post a comment
for America asking about it and somebody
will respond. Nico has a
consultancy, one of the things they're doing
is forming BLOGS.
They have people all the time coming to
them asking them to set up BLOGS.
Care and feeding of a BLOG - it's a constant
conversation that requires
-- has links to tons of BLOGs.
will be doing some consulting. He may be
working for Joe
Trippi at Change for America.com
Q - can you talk about the editorial process
A - he thinks political organizations have
camps - but they talked, all
their different camps.
Q - underlying technology? How did you
push all the emails?
A - into Convio, through the second quarter.
Problems: shared environment,
too big, needed a dedicated environment.
They got one, and rendering of
their email was difficult. What they ended
up doing was getting a system
called Lyris. It wasn't on a database so
it needed a list built every time,
so they hired somebody from Seattle and
he used My SQL.
They had a lot of different tools - this
guy built "the candle" which tied
Campaigns need to go to CRM - to platforms
you can build on [scalability].
They had planned for capacity bursts after
the primaries, which Kerry is now
Kerry's campaign raised 6 million dollars
in 6 days after super Tuesday.
Q - where do you think these tools will
go, and how do you think they'll
impact the upcoming election?
A - they were just beginning to ask those
questions when the campaign went
What does the campaign mean for a Dean
presidency. Nine press conferences
in 3 years would not cut it.
Q - Do you have a sense of the "electing"
population and will this be
A - Bobby thinks it will have an effect.
GWU did a study on folks engaged
online -and the vast majority of them were
policy leaders of some kind. It's
injecting a conversation - different personality
A2 - People who are coming online are opinion
leaders, and going to
influence people offline. Both parties are
competing over a shrinking
electorate - but the left side is what's
peeling off the most; the people
who are more progressive are opting out.
So Trippi wanted to re engage
people, and that's what happened - Iowa
and New Hampshire had more people
turn out than ever before. "Just show
up" It matters.
More college members for DeanforAmerica
than for RocktheVote.
Trivia Q - What was the first project that
Motive and Bobby Clark did
A - The Colorado Voter Initiative
appreciates the sponsorship of
and Copy Diva (http://www.copydiva.com).