THE 2018 PHILLIPS CAMPAIGN REWROTE THE BOOK ON DIGITAL CAMPAIGNING.
How do you oust a career politician who has never lost an election in his life, in a district no Democrat has won in 60 years? As the Digital Director for the Phillips Campaign, it was a question I contemplated and acted on every day. The effort to elect Dean Phillips in Minnesota’s Third District innovated on every from of modern campaigning, and perhaps nowhere more than in digital strategy. Here’s some of the ways we changed the old script on digital campaigning:
1. The campaign allocated significantly more resources to digital than the traditional formula. We didn’t neglect TV or mailers or other traditional media — we simply recognized the sheer importance of digital and proportionally allocated funds for it. Digital became the most time-sensitive and measurable method of communication, and we continually refined and perfected our digital messaging and delivery into a strategy that dominated opposition moves.
2. The campaign prioritized content authenticity above all. We shied away from glossy, overly-produced materials. Instead, we filmed our supporters on iPhones and lav mics, broadcast full parades via non-HD livestream, put a DSLR on a shoulder mount and followed Dean as he got coffee with a constituent. All this led to a reputation of unwavering sincerity and the spirit of “we might not always agree, but at least we can be honest with each other and work together.”
3. The campaign relied heavily on constituent digital data. The Digital Team for the Phillips Campaign spent countless hours scouring through all permitted data on various online sources, including social media, to create complex personality profiles and targeting routes. This led to the creation of a method of target-content strategy that resulted in even more relevant content being delivered to our constituents.
On November 6th, 2018, Dean Phillips beat Erik Paulsen with an 11.4% margin and a massive 25% swing compared to 2016. FiveThirtyEight had called this district “the most likely to be the House’s tipping point,” and the house tipped big. Digital was a major part of the upset, mobilizing constituents, creating powerful, data-driven content, and always keeping its message honest and relevant.
[Want to learn more about what we did right, and what we learned not to do along the way? Contact me!]