So said “a senior member” of the Romney campaign’s digital team, according to last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine article, ”The Late Adopters.” The feature story by Robert Draper focused on the Republican Party’s image crisis and its snail-paced march toward the digital age. Throughout the campaign, young Republican consultants pitched software and technology, only to be ignored:
“Team Romney managed to connect with 12 million Facebook friends, triple that of Obama’s operation in 2008; but Obama in 2012 accrued 33 million friends and deployed them as online ambassadors who in turn contacted their Facebook friends, thereby demonstrably increasing the campaign’s get-out-the-vote efforts in a way that dwarfed the Republicans’. While Romney’s much-hyped get-out-the-vote digital tool, Orca, famously crashed on Election Day, Obama’s digital team unveiled Narwhal, a state-of-the-art data platform that gave every member of the campaign instant access to continuously updated information on voters, volunteer availability and phone-bank activity. And despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the Romney television-ad-making apparatus proved to be no match for the Obama operation, which enlisted Rentrak…through which it accrued an entirely new layer of information about each and every consumer, giving the campaign the ability to customize cable TV ads.”
Like it or not, politicians, retailers, the service industry, nonprofits–organizations and we, as individuals–can’t postpone the paradigm shift the world is experiencing. Some figures show that two-thirds of the planet’s population now use smart phones, and shopping, learning, reading, playing, and meeting online rises significantly every day. Public relations practitioners have deeply felt changes in our profession; we’ve had to become tech savvy very quickly, and many still struggle to keep up with ever-changing platforms and tools.
“There’s an old guard in Republican politics…mostly made up of television and direct-mail consultants,” said GOP digital consultant Zac Moffet in the article. It may seem obvious, but the party–and just about everyone else on earth–has to put down the pencils and get on Reddit and Instagram and whatever is new, or be stuck in 1999. But can they? Can we? Your thoughts?