Internet rules for campaigns

Throughout history, big technological innovation came during wartime. The American Civil War, for example, spawned the submarine and machine gun. The atomic bomb profoundly
changed World War II. All of these innovations had civilian spin-off effects that profoundly changed our culture.

Politics is a civilized form of warfare. It's educational to watch political Web sites to find new forms of innovation and change. These rules, gleaned from extensive analysis of political Web sites, have applications that extend beyond the world of politics.

1. Be interactive. Make sure your Web site engages users in novel ways through e-mail, chat rooms, discussion groups and more.

2. Update content daily. You want to give people a reason to come back. If the content doesn't change, they won't come back for more.

3. Push candidate information. More than anything, Internet users want information. Provide as much as you can to describe the candidate and positions.

4. Be user-friendly. If your page is a navigational pain, people will get frustrated, go away and never come back. As a corollary, avoid a bunch of huge images that take a long time to load.

5. Provide useful informational links. Using links allow a page to be fresh and point users to content that might be helpful.

6. Ask for help from virtual volunteers. There's no reason to do all of the work yourself. There are electronic volunteers -- cybercitizens - who will help you maintain your site for free.

7. Ask for money over the Internet. Online campaign fund-raising is about to explode. Make sure your campaign takes advantage of this new source of funding.

8. Provide online disclosure of your campaign funds. Many states have some sort of online disclosure. You might as well provide the information up front instead of seeming like you're
hiding it.

9. Put opposition research online. Show why your opponent is bad.

10. Use the latest technology. You don't need all of the bells and whistles but if you're not hip to what's happening, you won't be able to maintain a site that is on the cutting edge.

© Andrew C. Brack, 1997-2001



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