Brown Staffers Share Digital Tactics Behind Election Win
By Jeremy Herb, Globe correspondent
WASHINGTON -- Scott Brown campaign staffers offered their digital election playbook to Republican strategists hoping to replicate Brown's successful online strategy, during an invitation-only event today at Google's Washington headquarters.
Brown's political director Peter Fullerton and new media director Robert Willington demonstrated how they used tools from Google and other online platforms to recruit volunteers, raise money, get out the vote, and ultimately win the online war that helped Brown upset Democrat Martha Coakley.
“The running joke in the campaign was when you go to Obama's Web site it says 'powered by hope,'” said Willington. “With how much we used Google, you could say, 'powered by Google' for the Brown campaign.”
Digital campaigning and social networking was largely considered a Democratic stronghold after 2008, with Barack Obama's presidential campaign leading the way. But Brown, along with newly elected Republican Governors Chris Christie and Robert McDonnell, used many of the same techniques as the Obama campaign, altering the digital political landscape.
Willington showed how Brown's campaign used Google programs like AdWords to make his Web site the top sponsored link when searching “Martha Coakley” on Google. The campaign used a technique called a “Google blast” in the days before the election, where Google floods popular Web sites in specific areas with ads. The Brown campaign, for example, ran ads in Wrentham, but not in Cambridge or on the liberal-leaning Web site The Huffington Post, Willington said.
Google offers its consulting services to candidates for free—assigning separate people to work with opposing sides if both are interested—and makes its money from ads purchased by campaigns.