The Obama campaign and robocalls

I received another nice e-mail message from Barack Obama this morning. He must know that I get up early. The now-regular e-mail I receive from either him or Michelle is generally the first thing I see when I fire up the computer at 4 a.m. Here’s today’s message.

From: Barack Obama

Subject: It’s in your hands, Rob

Rob —

The next 6 days are going to be the toughest we’ve seen, and I need your support to reach as many voters as possible.

Donate $5 or more today to strengthen this movement for the final push.

This campaign is in your hands.

Thank you for everything you’re doing.

Barack

Wow. No pressure there. The campaign is in my hands. I was actually thinking about ordering some frozen food from the company at mccain.com. Maybe I better reconsider and send Barack a five spot.

Actually, I give Obama and his advisers credit for how well they have used online media and communication tactics. They announced the selection of Joe Biden as the VP candidate via e-mail. They have raised millions of dollars online. And they are very effectively using e-mail now to encourage people to vote — and to volunteer with the campaign if only for a few hours next Tuesday. I’ve received those e-mails as well.

I’m impressed. And it will be interesting to see if he uses online media as a way to communicate directly with the nation once he moves into the Oval Office in January. Maybe I can send him an IM every once in a while.

I’m less impressed with the campaign strategy — used by Republicans and Democrats — involving “robocalls.” Here’s how Wikipedia describes a “robocall”:

Robocall is American pejorative jargon for an automated telemarketing phone call that uses both a computerized autodialer and a computer-delivered recorded message. The implication is that a “robocall” resembles a telephone call from a robot.

I’m at home a lot these days, either working or napping. And those calls really are annoying. I had two yesterday from George Voinovich. I imagine he dialed my number by mistake the second time. I expect I’ll hear from Joe Biden, Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama before next Tuesday. Hope I’m home and awake when Sarah calls. And I guess it’s a blessing that where I live in Copley, Ohio, doesn’t appear to have any representation in the U.S. Congress. Otherwise I would be getting those calls as well.

So I give Barack Obama credit for his online strategy. And I know that not everyone is tethered to the computer all day like me. So the calls, I guess, are necessary. Yet here again Obama has a big advantage. Apparently the Obama Girl is making calls on his behalf. As Jimmy Carter said, life isn’t fair.

Hope I’m home when the Obama Girl calls.

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3 responses to “The Obama campaign and robocalls

  1. Rob, I agree with you that the Obama team deserves credit for effectively using online media. As PR practitioners, we can all learn a lot from the campaign’s strategic use of social media. His campaign team knew the audience well and how best to reach them with messages that resonate with them. His online strategy endeared a lot of people to him and that is one of the reasons why he is where he is today. He has set a standard for future political campaigns, not only in the US but all over the world.
    Like you, I’m also interested in seeing how he will incorporate social media as president (if he wins). I don’t expect that he will leave his over 2 million Facebook “followers” hanging after the election. As for the Obama girl’s call…no comments!

  2. Rob, I completely agree with you. Obama’s communication with his target audiences is impressive. I wrote a post about how Obama’s worked to create a relationship with me through emails, advertisements on my favorite Web sites, snail mail fliers and more. His campaign folks have conducted their research. They know how I prefer to get my messages and where I spend my time on the Web. And it’s paying off.

    McCain on the other hand, hasn’t even tried to gain my support, sway my vote.

    I guess it just goes to show that we PR people kinda’ know what we’re talking about.

    And in case you want to explore my post on Obama and McCain further: http://recycledperspective.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/environmental-politics-where-the-candidates-stand-and-why-obama-won-me-over/

  3. Brittany,

    I made a similar comment on a previous blog post, but I really believe this year we are seeing a generational shift in campaigns, elections and expectations of government officials. That’s good — and it’s a positive sign for our democracy. And we PR people do know what we are talking about.

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