If you are running for judge, district attorney or other elected office, here are some of our top dos and don’t for online campaigning.
Do start early. There is a lot you can do online right now in preparation for your campaign. Put material about yourself out there now and begin building your online reputation.
Judges are often limited in when and how they can begin campaigning or use social media. For example, they may not be able to print campaign material or engage in online campaigning activities until a particular date.
They also may not publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for any public office. They may also be restricted to seek, accept, or use endorsements from a political organization.
Don’t register a bad domain name. Adding the year or position to your domain name can easily make the name irrelevant in the future. Prosecutors and county attorney often move on to become judges. Using a non-specific name, such as the candidate’s name or ‘vote’ and name, will last much longer and can be reused throughout your career.
Don’t commit to a domain name before you actually own it. Even if you are waiting to start your campaign website, do not commit to using your chosen domain name before you have secured it. There’s nothing worse than ordering campaign supplies listing a website that is wrong or, worse, owned by someone else.
Do invest in a campaign website. The barriers to entry are low, and there is no reason why a candidate in any local race should fail to have a website. Your opponent will probably have one, and interested voters will be searching for you online. If you don’t control your own online message, someone else will.
Do take online political donations (if allowed). Integrating online donations is not very difficult these days. Third party payment processors provide an inexpensive way to accept payments or donations online. Don’t forget to open your campaign bank account early!
Don’t let visitors leave your website without a strong call to action. Every page of your website should ‘make an ask’. It can be a donation, a share, a volunteer request or even simple reminder to vote for you. If you have an email list, be sure to push visitors to sign up for additional updates and reminders.
Know the difference between your primary and general election. While nothing is ever really ‘deleted’ on the web, you may want to consider tweaking or expanding your online message for the general electorate after you’ve won your primary. ‘Red meat’ may get you on the ballot, but a candidate usually has to attract more than just the base to win a general election.
Don’t slow down at the end. Your final Get Out the Vote drive can mean the difference between winning and losing. When you have your volunteers talking to voters on the phone, door knocking and forming neighborhood committees, you will be able to increase your turnout.
Related: How Many Votes Do You Need To Win?
When it is time, wind down your online campaign properly. Make final website notifications, and thank your supporters. They deserve it.
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