The GOP Web site is more interactive and user friendly thanks to the Republican National Committee’s new Internet guru Cyrus Krohn.
Krohn has redesigned www.GOP.com to give it a more open appearance with new features that are especially attractive to younger voters.
Before joining the RNC, Krohn, 37, was director of content production and election strategy at Yahoo!. Prior to that, he spent almost 10 years at Microsoft, where he was Slate magazine’s first employee and later became publisher. He also managed the political advertising efforts at Microsoft’s MSN.com and was executive producer of MSN Video.
As E-Campaign director, Krohn oversees the RNC’s Web site, online strategic communications, and constituent outreach. A friend who held the position previously encouraged Krohn to leave corporate America, and Krohn decided to take a pay cut and join the RNC.
“I just came to the call of my party,” Krohn tells Newsmax. “It struck me that this is a critical year in terms of electing another Republican to be president. What greater way to serve the country than to come and apply my experience to the party I’m such a strong believer in.”
Krohn began his career as an intern for then Vice President Dan Quayle and worked at CNN as a producer on “Larry King Live” and later “Crossfire.”
In designing the GOP site, Krohn was guided by statistics.
“One of the first things I did when I got here was look at how users were navigating the site, which sections were most active, what users were really clamoring for. We’ve provided our audience with the access to the information they’re seeking based on the information we have about their behavior,” Krohn says.
The redesigned site allows users to receive content via mobile devices and to interact with others in networks.
“You can consume RNC-GOP content on Facebook, on Del.icio.us, on Digg, on Twitter, all of the arenas where a younger audience is interacting quite heavily online,” Krohn says. “Beyond supporting our existing users, we’re making a significant outreach into attracting younger supporters and getting our message to them.”
The RNC has a Hispanic language version of the Web site at http://espanol.gop.com and an official GOP blog at http://gop.com/blog.
As campaigns heat up, the RNC Web site gets more hits. Currently, the site has unique visitors per month in the “mid- to high-six figures,” Krohn says. In addition, the RNC’s e-mail list exceeds the 3.8 million the Democratic National Committee claims to have, Krohn says.
Asked whether Republicans or Democrats in general are ahead in their use of the Internet, Krohn says, “The ebb and flow of the Web is so fluid that there’s a lot of one-upmanship going on all the time. And I don’t think that you can make an overarching statement that one party is more dominant than the other. There are different areas where different parties are better, but it all fluctuates based on campaign cycles and interests and many variables.”
Krohn has been beefing up efforts to help individual Republican candidates, particularly among undecided voters. His goal is to grow their numbers “in areas that may not have been thought of or leveraged yet.”
As an example of how the RNC uses technology, for the 2000 election, Karl Rove and former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman began developing what is known as Voter Vault, a database that allows Republicans to ping in on possible Republican voters house by house.
To compile the database, Rove and Mehlman conducted a survey of, say, 5,000 people in each state. The survey revealed which voters were for Bush or leaned toward him or toward Republicans. It asked about attitudes toward the war on terror, education policy, tax cuts. Then Rove and Mehlman matched those people with a voter file that lists all 168 million registered voters in the country.
Finally, they matched all the data with 107 other identifying features from each voter’s consumer history, obtained from consumer data mining companies and direct marketing vendors. They broke the profiles into manageable segments so the campaign could focus on candidate preferences or issue preferences.
As a result, Rove and Mehlman knew that if a voter drove a Mercury, subscribed to a hunting magazine, and belonged to a church, that person was open to voting Republican. Conversly, if the voter drove a Subaru and contributed to the Sierra Club, that person would likely vote for Democrats.
With that data, Rove and Mehlman ran the field program, targeting each voter who might be a good prospect through the mail, phone, Internet, and personal contact. Rather than sending out paid volunteers, as the Democrats were doing, Rove and Mehlman would ask a Bush volunteer who is Hispanic and active in the Boy Scouts to pay a personal call on a prospect who was also Hispanic and active in the Boy Scouts.
Krohn, who joined the RNC last July, has a staff of three and works with several vendors. When asked about his cut in pay, Krohn said, “Some things are more important than money.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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