Amid all the hoopla around politicians using
social media platforms to engage voters, the
Obama and Romney campaigns are still
employing a stalwart communication tool:
email. The problem, however, is that both
campaigns constantly break the golden rules of
email, to the frustration of many.
What’s This About?
First, there are the subject lines, which are
usually misleading or do little to inform
recipients what the message is actually about
in the hopes of getting them to open the email
— a practice known in the digital journalism
world as “clickbait.”
Here are some recent subject lines from team
Obama: “Go ahead, keep waiting.” “Here’s a
twist.” “Midnight, your time.” “Dinner?” And
from Romney: “Bring a guest.” “Day One.” “Ride
That all makes you wonder if they’re all
somehow related: Maybe I’m waiting for
midnight on day one, and the twist is that I can
bring a guest to ride along to dinner? At least
the Romney emails give a little bit of a clue to
what’s below the fold.
Too. Many. Emails.
The frequency is also an issue. The Obama and
Romney campaigns send out at least one email
a day, and occasionally many more (especially
when fundraising deadlines loom).
That would be understandable if each email
contained some critical update, but most
don’t. In fact, the content of both sides’s
emails has become strikingly similar. Small-
dollar donation pleas are common from both
teams, as they’ve become a popular metric for
campaigns that want to prove they’re not
influenced by “big money.” Those donations
are often tied to contests with prizes ranging
from a new bumper sticker to a chance to hang
out with President Obama at George Clooney’s
house, or with Mitt Romney at a Red Sox game.
Plenty of others have lambasted Obama and
Romney for their email donation pitches.
Comedian Jon Stewart dedicated a segment to
Obama’s emails last April, joking that “there
are exiled Nigerian princes getting Obama
campaign emails going, ‘ease up on the money
When their emails do contain an actual
important piece of news, such as fundraising
numbers, they can be lost in a sea of other
emails. Political campaigns are becoming the
emailers who cried wolf.
Is it working?
Why would the campaigns keep up with these
annoying emails? It turns out they may be
Following the recent Supreme Court ruling on
the Affordable Care Act, both campaigns sent
blast emails to supporters asking for
donations. The Romney campaign reported a
staggering $4.4 million in from 43,000 online
donors in less than 24 hours — an average
donation of $100. The Obama campaign didn’t
release numbers, but a spokesman said that
their team did better (The Obama campaign
reported an average donation size of about $50
Those results are likely an outlier — the
decision was a rare singular moment that was
likely to spark an influx of donations
regardless of an email pitch, and post-decision
fundraising pitches also came via Facebook,
Twitter and other digital means. However, the
emails from both campaigns keep filling
inboxes across the country — a sign they must
be worth the effort during “normal” times, too.
That means, for Obama and Romney
supporters, four more months of emails with
misleading subject lines and $3 donation
pitches. Meanwhile, dinner?
Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto,
TAGS: 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt
Romney, Politics, Social Media, US, barack
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Clooney and Me
An invitation to George Clooney's house from
the president -- no Gosling at that shindig,
Source: Hey Girl Barack Obama
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