Politics connected

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election20_small.jpgADOTAS — I talked to Jon Patsavos recently about the growing use of social media in politics.

Patsavos managed fundraising and promotional campaigns for presidential candidates John Kerry, Hillary Clinton. He said he remembered in 2004, he would have piles of fundraising checks that his team was processing into a database and photocopying, and just four years later, there was rarely a time when he had 50 checks in my office. Everything was done online.

“It has made it easier to reach out,” he said. “You didn’t have to go to an event to give money or a direct mail. You could see a debate, and you were very impressed with a candidate. Maybe you didn’t even know you liked the person before you saw the debate. You could go right on the web, and be able to donate right there.”

Patsavos, who works with advertising firm Gray & Partners, said candidates still spend a lot of money, whether during the Olympics or some special, on television ads. The Internet and social media is not replacing traditional media, he said, but is adding to it. Candidates and companies need to adust their campaigns and marketing to reflect that, he noted.

“A handful of years ago, if you were in a campaign, whether on the local level or federal level, you wanted to get a website up so people could read a bio or to donate,” Patsavos said. “”But now it has to be a lot more advanced. People want to go on a website and contribute to a specific event or see what’s going on. (Voters) want to be more interactive with that campaign or candidate.”

The company will make suggestions if a candidate it’s working with doesn’t have a good website.

“You need more content,” he said about campaign websites. “You need more ways, when people go online, that they can learn about your candidate. See where you are; where you have been. You need to be more connected.”

The personal touch, the grass roots peice still works and is important, Patsavos said. But now social networks allow candidates to reach potential voters on their time and through different mediums.

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