Sunday, April 16, 2006
POLITICS: Massachusetts candidates battle with web blogs, cell phones, iPod buzz
PUBLISHED: Thursday, April 13, 2006 - Updated: 09:04 AM EST
HEADLINE: New media, new frontier - Candidates battle Web blogs, cell phones, iPod buzz
By Jesse Noyes
Deval Patrick might have taken the lead in the race for the most cutting-edge gubernatorial candidate when his campaign unleashed an online marketing effort this week. But with many of the 2006 candidates planning to flood every medium available as the race heats up - taking advantage of everything from blogs and online banner ads to cell phones and iPods - that early edge is tenuous at best.
Patrick rolled out a major Internet-based effort, posting video and banner ads on local media sites, including NECN.com, CNN.com, BostonHerald.com and others. Patricks. spending could reach $100,000. "Deval really wants to get beyond the 10-second sound bites and the 30-second TV spots," said Doug Rubin, senior adviser to the Patrick campaign.
He's not alone.
"You're going to see all the campaigns start to shift some resources into some of the newer avenues," said Tim O.Brien, campaign manager for Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey. For instance, Healey's campaign is toying with the idea of jumping on iPods. "I think you'll see, very soon, blasted verbal messages to people's iPods,' O.Brien said. "It certainly is something that we're taking a serious look at."
With more people heading online and carrying handheld devices, the need for candidates to use nontraditional advertising is stronger than ever. But it's not just a matter of reach. It's also about perception as candidates try to adopt media-savvy personas.
"Generally speaking a vast majority of campaigns are about the future not about the past," said Rob Gray, president of Gray Media and a consultant to the Healey campaign. "Everybody wants to be on the cutting edge and to get their message out as much as possible."
The Internet has also taken a leading role in campaign fund raising after Howard Dean.' unconventional but successful efforts raising money early in the 2004 Democratic primaries. "The Web has become the ATM of political campaigns," said Tobe Berkovitz, associate dean of Boston University's communications department.
For Peter Pendergast, campaign manager for independent candidate Christy Mihos, it's about making one ad splash across an array of media channels. Mihos. first radio ad last month became fodder for bloggers, talk radio hosts and voters standing around the water cooler, giving the message buzz that far exceeded the cost of the original ad buy. "We got an awful lot of bang for the buck,' Pendergast said.
Both Attorney General Tom Reilly's and Chris Gabrieli's campaigns refused to comment on their marketing strategies.
Despite the early ventures into new media, traditional outlets still rule, experts said. As the race continues, candidates will step up their media buys in TV, print and radio. TV is "still the workhorse," Berkovitz said, "but you also have plenty of show horses and that's the new media."
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