Last weekend, Delegate Jeff Frederick of Prince William County was elected the new chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, succeeding John Hager. Members of the Jeffersoniad blogging collective decided to share a few ideas with him as he takes office and begins to shape the party apparatus for the next four years.
Jeffersoniad members sent this memo to Chairman Frederick, who at the moment is taking a well-earned vacation with his family:
To: Chairman Jeff Frederick, Republican Party of Virginia
From: The Jeffersoniad
Date: June 5, 2008
RE: Technology and the RPV
Congratulations on your election to lead the Republican Party of Virginia. We are excited to have an energized leadership team heading up the party in
. We want to help you and your team succeed in your quest to revitalize the Republican Party of Virginia. Richmond
As you know, the Jeffersoniad is a coalition of conservative bloggers who write about the issues facing our Commonwealth. Because many of our members have significant political experience and knowledge in
and beyond, we are confident we can be an asset to your team and your plan to improve the Party. Our first offering is this memorandum outlining our ideas on how you can utilize various technologies to expand and improve the communications of the party. Virginia
Party activists like to be in the know; they want to be informed about what is going on. For far too long, and for far too many, RPV has been an obscure building in a bad neighborhood in
to which only the most elite of Party insiders had access. You have the opportunity to transform RPV into an integral part of GOP efforts in Richmond accessible to all. Use of technology to disseminate information should be the first item on your list of things to do. Virginia
First, we are very pleased with your campaign promise to revamp the RPV website to include elements that will be welcoming to new visitors, and will also give an “inside baseball” feel to all. We look forward to the changes you have planned. If desired by your team, we are available to provide feedback and a medium for outreach so that the revamped site is a success. From providing beta testing of the new site to participating in an explosive launch of the new site, we are here to help you make it work.
Furthermore, on websites, your initiative to ensure every Republican unit has a website is a solid proposal. Many units may not have the resources to produce and host their own site, and as you have stated, RPV should be there for those units. RPV should produce boiler plate sites that can be hosted on RPV servers that, at the very least, contain local party contact and meeting information as well as contact information for local elected Republicans and Republican candidates.
A second element of technology use we would like to see significant work on is email contact lists. Unfortunately, such lists are valuable resources that are often held tight by the owners of those lists. It is imperative for RPV to build and maintain a solid Republican activist list that can be easily sorted by city/county, HOD legislative district, State Senate legislative district, and Congressional District. These lists not only need to be constantly updated, but also should have an easy method by which visitors to the RPV and local committee websites can sign up in the first place. The RPV has Voter Vault. Does someone have the technology to quickly update this database with emails? Or do you want to manage a separate list – if so, then there should be a means to do cross checking and integration.
Social networking sites are all the rage right now. We have seen significant use of sites like Facebook and My Space in the political arena. Many Congressional candidates make effective use of these sites to recruit young volunteers, announce events, and communicate their message. RPV should be in the game as well. RPV needs to create a presence in all popular social networking sites and use these sites to disseminate information about the Party.
We would be remiss if we neglected to mention the role of blogs and the blogging community to advance the Party. Blogs play a very important role in
politics today. RPV should acknowledge the blogs and work with coalitions like the Jeffersoniad to disseminate information important to RPV. Many members of the Jeffersoniad are former candidates, future candidates, former Party officials, current Party officials, and -- of course -- future Party officials. We have vested interests in seeing RPV succeed and grow. You can expect us to be very favorable to actions you take that will improve the Party. At the same time, you can expect us to be very honest if you do not live up to the promises of your campaign. Virginia
RPV must embrace blogs, not only as readers and passers of information, but also as active participants. RPV has attempted to incorporate a blog on its website with limited success. RPV should have a blog that can be used to get information out. You should also use the RPV blog to expose the opposition. Obviously, we understand the need for caution when posting on an official Party blog, but those assigned to post to the Party blog should be trusted and have the freedom to post with very limited bureaucratic process to go through for post approval.
Also, we should come to a mutual understanding of free speech. There will be times when the RPV doesn’t want to be branded with the opposition’s labels for everything a blog/blogger has ever said. Likewise, there may be an action or statement from the RPV that blogs/bloggers might want to keep some distance. It’s worth a collective chat to talk about such times before they happen so expectations and responses are held in common understandings.
The use of video, audio and graphics can’t be understated. If RPV opens the door, then we could suggest cogent clips or symbolic statements that RPV can consider to spend the resources, or not, to make them happen. Likewise, the material prepared by users might be considered by RPV for use. As always, good humor and taste are personal and won’t be universally enjoyed.
Blogs should also be used at the local level. Ideally it would great for RPV to develop a blog coalition that is made up of those who make posts to their local unit blogs. There should be mechanism in place that enables RPV posts to be easily pushed down to local unit blogs.
We are very pleased with your campaign promise to create the Majority Blog to get information out to members of the General Assembly. We would encourage more use of these specialty blogs for the purpose of getting information into the right hands.
There are many more tools becoming available every day, we hope RPV takes advantage of all available tools to get information out on the street.
Finally, we would recommend creating the position of Director of New Media within the RPV staff structure. It should be the duty of this position to utilize all of the available technology to get the message of the Republican Party of Virginia out to all.
We hope you take this memo into consideration as you move RPV forward into the 21st Century. We want to see RPV grow and have unprecedented success in the coming years. We wish you luck in your leadership role of the Republican Party of Virginia.
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