I finished Mobilizing Generation 2.0 while at the Planned Parenthood conference I blogged about a few days ago. In many ways this was the perfect context in which to read this book– although I may be biased (after all I am a huge supporter of Planned Parenthood’s mission), I think that Planned Parenthood is really doing a lot of the things in Rigby’s book well.
I also feel like Rigby’s book prepared me to tackle the challenge of updating/rescuing fixing the H*yas for Choice Facebook group and approaching blogging for a job handling some of the web presence of a reproductive rights campaign that I’m not 100% sure I got but that I’m super hopeful about (sorry, can’t talk about it at the moment… soon though).
Anyway, three points that Rigby came back to over and over I think are worth repeating here:
- It is okay to lose control of your message, you’ve got to accept that.
- Authentic language and no PR speak are key to on-line success
- You can’t just use technology and expect it to do magic. The old part of politics, the door-to-door handshaking, sign-waving, and petition wielding parts are still central. Technology can only augment, it cannot replace, those techniques.
Both these points intersect with common themes in the IPDI manual on mobile politics, “The Politics to Go Handbook” (available as a free PDF on-line).
As a proud member of the millennial generation I know that nothing irritates me faster than PR-speak. I also know that the ability to let go of a message charms the vote right out of me (hi Obama, hi). However, I was born in the early 1980s, and don’t really know how I feel about mobile phones as a marketing device. Yes, I love my Blackberry as much as the next girl– but the thought of using it to send money or bank just seems… weird.
My section of the millennial generation, born before say 1985, has one foot on both sides of the technological invasion of our lives. I check my Blackberry first thing in the AM (in part because it doubles as my alarm clock) but when it comes to politics I like that in person or on-line. I don’t want it on my phone. All the authors in the IPDI text spoke in lofty terms about the potential to connect with voters where they live in a personal and contextually appropriate way. The side of me that works on political campaigns thinks this is a great idea… However, the part of me that is the recipient of political messages wonders if that isn’t just a little too far.
Going forward, I think that both these texts indicate that campaigns will need to be incredibly careful about how they use these new technologies. Their potential lies in the personal nature of their messages but, and this is the huge thing, it is also easier than ever to delete, unsubscribe, or ignore a political message. Getting rid of PR-speak is only the first step– much longer-term changes are needed in the way campaigns talk to potential supporters.