What do you mean my campaign needs to be integrated?

By Henri Makembe on 05.06.09

When Isaac wrote up his round-up from his session at the 2009 Online politics conference, he mentioned that speakers on the panel emphasized integration.  That’s point lead one of the readers of this blog to ask the following question:

This might be an ignorant question re: point 1, but can you elaborate a bit more on what you mean by ‚Äúintegration?‚ÄĚ What about it is often missed or overlooked from an organizational/structural standpoint?

Our reader brings up a good question.¬† Integration and the level of integration means different things to different campaign managers. One thing for sure is that¬†social media and other internet efforts on a campaign cannot stand alone¬†in any campaign or organization.¬† As such, I think each campaign should seek to four levels of integration –¬† Team integration , Data integration, Communication/Message integration and¬† Off/online integration. Let‚Äôs a take a closer look at each.

  • Team Integration¬†–¬† The campaign team should integrated at the highest level.¬† This means the communication director, the field director, the fundraising director and the Internet director should be aware of each other efforts and look for ways to collaborate with each other. Structurally, there are no right or wrong way to set up your team. The Obama Campaign had the Internet director reporting directly to the campaign manager while some have suggested that Internet director should be under the communication director.¬† No matter how the teams are set up, it important the internet team has a [knowledgeable and influential] voice at the table in all discussions.
  • Data integration¬†– voter registration files, donation data, event attendance, phone banking data, canvassing data, email sign ups and action data should all be combined to get a good picture of who are the most fervent supporters.¬† The campaign should then encourage those supporters to take action on their own online and offline on the behalf the candidate/campaign.¬† Whether or not they are given express consent or just encouraged to act on the behalf on the campaign depends on each campaign.¬† Many of the Obama staffers have told me that the campaign merely encouraged people to take action and produce material on behalf of the campaign but never gave express consent.¬† The same data can also be used to determine which voters are on the fence, so that the campaign can better target its efforts to get those votes.¬† In my opinion, data integration is the most difficult and the most intensive but also carries the biggest¬† payoff because it will allow the campaign to better allocate its resources. There are software programs that can be purchased to help with this effort.¬† I hope to write a about a few of them in the future.
  • Communication/Message integration¬†‚Äď I think this the most obvious of the level of integration.¬† Is the campaign message¬† consistent across all mediums (this includes various social network websites and even online ads) on all issues?¬† It doesn‚Äôt take a genius to realize that if one campaign ad says something different than the latest blog post, the media, opponents and detractors are going to take advantage of that.
  • Offline/Online integration¬†‚Äď Offline/Online integration should occur naturally if the campaign has good team integration. However, since most teams don‚Äôt (at the least the ones that I‚Äôve worked on) I chose to highlight it separately. Essentially, the goal here to let the offline activities drive part of the online debate and vice versa. If the online team is aware of the offline activities, they can then tailor the content online to promote those activities as well as make arrangement to create more content that can be posted online at a later time. Conversely, if the offline team is aware of some of the efforts happening online, they can promote it through their activities.¬† A good level of integration will drive increase attendance and participation (given that the content is interesting and engaging) both offline and online.

Accomplishing these levels off integration is not easy by any means,  it requires man power, technology, a culture of integration that most organization lack as well as a candidate/leadership that promotes it loudly and forces it through when necessary.