November 9, 2010 — David All, founder of TechRepublican.com and president of the David All Group, spoke to the Shorenstein Center about “How to Reach, Engage and Empower Brand Activists.”
As an early Republican blogger on Capitol Hill, All says he “learned quickly the power of earned media,” and found that he could “create media and messaging through news by just being clever, creative and accessible.” When the Republicans were defeated in the 2006 midterm elections, All believed that “the problem is not the message, the problem is how we’re getting the message out.” His solution has been to find and create “new mediums to get the message out.”
All explained that new media allows for the ability to “lean into crisis, if you have a good message and a good team that can get it out quickly and faster than the other teams.” Using every media channel available, All said his group was able to “pivot” negative messages into positive ones.
Instead of relying on traditional marketing models that are “expensive, impersonal and don’t allow for two-way communication,” All employs a “disruptive” model of direct, online marketing that reaches individuals. Rather than targeting a mass audience that is outside of the brand he is promoting, he works to “empower the hyperactive supporters” of the brand, and let them spread the message through social media.
The most important way to spread a message through online media, All emphasized, is through people, a “valuable resource.” Getting caught up in technology, he said, sometimes makes us lose sight of the fact that “people, empowered by technology, are changing everything.”
“Brand activists are everywhere,” said All, and by giving just a few “superusers” the tools and the power to promote a brand or a message, a much larger audience can be targeted. If you “give a smart strategist a tool that lets them arm people” with the means to promote a brand or become activists, he said, the message then “becomes part of the ambient awareness, and you haven’t had to pay anything to do it.”
This article was written by Janell Sims and the photos taken by Leighton Walter Kille, both of the Shorenstein Center.