John C. O'Brien III

Communications  Consultant

 My Approach
My philosophy about political campaigns:

KISS - Keep it short and simple

If they can't understand it in just a few seconds, it's not working

Communication means more than throwing it out there and hoping it sticks

Careful planning and relentless discipline makes you effective

General Consulting means more than just talk

Providing active, hands-on guidance makes sure everything works, everything gets done

Integrated Media means more than a website and a couple of emails

Comprehensive Internet strategy involves multiple strategic initiatives

Grassroots means more than shaking hands and kissing babies

The key to grassroots organizing is the "organizing"


Clarity. Timeliness. Consistency.

These three things are the fundamentals of all communication.

While different media have unique strengths and weaknesses, these three principles apply across all of them.

Whether it's frontline press duties or developing a comprehensive communications strategy . . . I can help you succeed in developing and disseminating your message effectively.

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General Consulting 
  • The 3 Ms: Message, Money, and Medium
    • Have the right message
    • Raise enough money
    • Choose the right combination of media
  • Integration of all parts to form a cohesive whole
    • Comprehensive planning involves multiple strategic initiatives
    • Everything must work together toward your one goal: win
  • Work hard. Work harder.
    • Never give up . . . ever
    • When you think you have it won, redouble your efforts
    • There will be time enough to relax the day after the election

As your general consultant, these three things drive everything I would do.

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Integrated Media 

There is more to Integrated Media than a website and mass emails; to truly take advantage of what the Internet offers, you have to dig deeper.

Total Internet Strategy
Having a website is great.  Effective use of email is wonderful. 

But you must be able to do more to get everything you can out of New Media.

Yes, I will design and administer your website for you, but I offer much more than that to savvy campaigns.

The Internet can make the difference in your campaign.

Online Reputation Management
Your online reputation is under constant attack by opposing campaigns and bloggers.  Even innocent mistakes can spread disinformation and harm your campaign. 

I will:

  • Monitor the Internet for new information about you and your opponent
    • Blast rapid responses to combat attacks
  • Conduct blog outreach to get these keyboard warriors on your side
    • Write your own blog to connect with voters
  • Coordinate volunteers throughout the campaign
    • Use volunteers to spread your message online and offline

Web Fundraising
Raising money on the web takes a different approach than direct mail or event-based fundraising.

Your "ask" may be the same, but your approach and delivery must be tailored to fit the medium.

This is where I will help you maximize your return on each and every voter contact.

Content Development
If all you need is someone to throw your pre-designed direct-mail piece on the Internet for you, I can do that . . . but you will be making a big mistake.

Not only can I help you integrate New Media techniques into your overall communications strategy, but I can also re-purpose your existing content for the Web or develop fresh content from scratch.

I am a full-service New Media strategist who will walk you through the process rather than simply telling you what to do and hoping you can now make it happen.

Many people think websites have to be garish and complicated. 
As you can tell, I don't believe that.

If that's what you want, we can do that (as the flash intro to my site suggests).  But I recommend we avoid too much of that stuff for one simple reason:

People want information.

The easier it is to find what they want, the better their experience is on your site.

  • How would you feel if a candidate's site had bells and whistles . . . but you could not find the basic bio page?
  • As the candidate, how would you feel if a voter could not find your volunteer center or donate to the campaign?

Simple is better.

Part of the problem is that many website developers do not know how to write for the web.  Or, worse, consultants think that they can just lift copy from a direct mail piece or letter and it will work on-screen.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Writing for the web requires specialized knowledge of user tendencies and desires to shape the form of your message to fit the medium.

I have the skills to make your website more effective right now.

Online Advertising Management
Online advertising is quickly becoming a highly targeted way to reach voters.

The old cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) is giving way to cost-per-action (CPA) paradigms which, while more expensive, ensure that every dollar spent is generating a positive action for your campaign.

  • Signing up for your newsletter or email updates
  • Filling out the volunteer form on your website
  • Donating to the campaign via your site

Additionally, you can integrate your email and direct mail into the overall campaign to reinforce your message and increase your response.

Integrated Email
The easier it is to find what you are looking for, the better their experience is on your site.  The easier it is to find what you are looking for, the better their experience is on your site.

Amateurs see email as its own creature -- something used just because "everyone is doing it."

I know that email is much more than that.  It's the easiest (and least expensive) way to:
  • Connect with constituents
  • Raise money
  • Turn out your voters

Most importantly, email must be coordinated with advertising, direct mail, and phone banking to maximize the effectiveness of these media.

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It's About Organizing

The key to grassroots organizing is the "organizing" -- finding the right leaders in each area that will actively help your campaign.

Having the proper set-up is crucial to track volunteers and supporters and to get them out there changing peoples' minds. The worst thing you can do is to waste their time and talents.  It directly costs you votes.

Understanding the Public

In an issue campaign, people can be divided into four groups in relation to your campaign:

  1. Family (0-3%): The closest, most intimately involved members of your community. They have a direct emotional commitment to the issue or project. They may have an economic connection as well. They are the most likely to respond to a call to action.
  2. Friends (3-10%): Not quite family, these folks have an economic commitment in your issue. They will often respond to a call to action, though perhaps not with the intensity of Family.
  3. Strangers (~90%): The largest group by far. These people are unaware of or uninterested in your issue. They could have a potential emotional or economic connection but need to be educated before they recognize it. You need to provide them an intellectual reason for involvement. These are the people you are trying to convert into Friends and Family. Until you convert them, your chances of getting them to respond to a call to action are slim.
  4. Opponents (0-3%): They actively oppose your goals. No efforts should be wasted reaching out to them.
Within these basic categories, are specialized groups to target:
  1. Influentials (the top 10% of Strangers): The grasstops of your grassroots include mavens, salespeople, connectors, and community leadership such as media, academics, and elected officials. They may or may not respond to your call to action based on how they feel about what’s in it for them and for their community.
  2. Key Contacts: Key contacts are the people you know who can deliver specific goods and services or who know a particular VIP. They are members of your group (already family or friends) and thus are naturally inclined to help your campaign.

Using Your Grassroots Support

A few of the things your grassroots support can do to help you win include:

  • Contact friends and neighbors asking them to get involved in ways they have not before – coming to a meeting, lending their time/talent/treasure/name to the cause, etc.
  • Monitor the media in their area for stories relating to our race
  • Host a get together to show support for the campaign
  • Have regular events, like monthly parties and holiday-themed get-togethers to build relationships in a relaxed setting so they’re stronger during other times
  • Lend their name to a letter or mailer
  • Listen to the radio, and call in if the conversation turns to something related to our campaign
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