Former Romney digital director Zac Moffatt gave an interesting interview to Alex Kantrowitz at Forbes.com where he looked back at the 2012 campaign and reflected on what lessons he learned for the future of online and mobile campaigning. For anyone involved in digital politics or advocacy, there’s plenty of meat to chew on there, but I want to focus for a moment on something that really resonated with me.
Looking ahead, Moffatt identified an issue that confronts political campaigns at all levels, as well as other advocacy efforts:
The next big problem I see for campaigns is going to be that you have create enough content to actually be able to message to these groups. Just because I know that single women in northern Virginia are an issue group I need to speak to, if I don’t have the appropriate message to say to them, then I’m just taking my TV message and running it to them. I think that’s where the disconnect is occurring right now. People are focusing on data, they’re not focusing on the content that needs to be produced to talk to those people.
With all of the attention being paid to the notion of Big Data, microtargeting, and all sorts of other technological silver bullets, far too few people in politics and public affairs have their eye on the need to create more and more quality content to help influence the outcome of a campaign.
This challenge manifests itself in several ways, so there’s no easy solution. First, someone needs to slog through writing interesting and relevant content — and anyone who has been in the game more than a few days understands just how hard it is to find good, fast writers that are the lifeblood of fast-moving public affairs and political campaigns.
But that’s just part of the battle. I have been involved in innumerable efforts where the content got created but then languished, waiting for all the necessary approvals. Particularly in an era in which one poorly scripted statement in an email to just a handful of people can be distorted and blown out of proportion, managers, candidates, and other leaders are understandably gun-shy about what’s going out under the organization’s logo.
Without this timely and relevant content, however, it becomes very difficult to launch effective targeting efforts. Moreover, it hinders other basics like broad-based emails, search engine optimization, surrogate guidance, and more.
As you move ahead with your own digital advocacy efforts, don’t overlook the importance of content creation in the planning and budgeting process. And when you are doing hiring, do yourself a favor and find folks who can write quickly, accurately, and engagingly.