With absolutely no press coverage, no promotion from one of the major State parties [thanks for nothing, Redfern… ;)], or any promotion by prominent Ohio politicians, I’ve noticed that last Wednesday (May 25th) we got more new Facebook followers in a day than the new pro-SB 5 “grassroots” political campaign got in its first day yesterday. (For the record, this was written at 11:30 a.m., roughly 24 hours after I first noticed the “Building a Better Ohio” Facebook page premiered.)
Think about that for a second. We, a blog, was able to get just as many followers in a day just by existing and no marketing than the pro-SB 5 political campaign ran by top operatives assigned the task of making their campaign look like a grassroots organization could do with statewide media exposure and a heavy push by the GOP establishment to get their followers to join. And if you go to their Facebook page, you’ll see that it’s so lazily administered that it’s been overrun with anti-SB5 comments on their wall.
Their twitter account didn’t do much better. It only drew 100 new followers in the first twenty-four, and we can tell many of them are SB 5 opponents who are following the account simply to monitor what it’s putting out.
This is a social media fail. And the rest of the rollout yesterday wasn’t much better. First, they came out of the gate and announced that the campaign was being run by a partisan, Republican political operative who is a lobbyist for the tobacco and energy sector. Not exactly a way to shed that SB 5 proponents are just partisan, ideological corporate shills image.
But besides that poor optic, the campaign committed the cardinal sin of campaign launches: do not, under any circumstances, do anything that highlights or features one of the campaign’s biggest vulnerability’s at the campaign launch. Ever since SB 5 was signed by Governor Kasich amidst record low approval ratings, the media has been pushing whether the pro-SB 5 campaign would feature Kasich prominently given his terrible poll numbers. The Building a Better Ohio campaign told the media that Kasich, Batchelder, and Niehaus would be “extensively” involved in the campaign.
That was a stupid mistake. First, it does nothing to dispel the notion that the bill is a partisan bill being pushed by conservative ideological politicians and has little push beyond them. Second, it sets the table for the media to measure everything the campaign does forward on the standard of how much are they willing to political risk letting Kasich be the face of the pro-SB 5 argument. The last thing the pro-SB 5 crowd should do is allow this referendum to become a proxy referendum on John Kasich. They clearly would lose under that framing right now.
Anything that takes away from their argument and lets it drift towards being a referendum on the Governor hurts their cause. So it was incredibly stupid of them to publicly commit that Kasich would have a prominent role in the campaign. In fact, all logic and reason would suggest that they should have gone in a completely different direction and argued that SB 5 isn’t about the Governor at all.
And so far, the only arguments for SB 5 that they’ve managed to put out are the same arguments Ohioans have been hearing from Kasich all year. They clearly haven’t been working, so why continue to repeat them?!?
When we don’t even have to try, we can still generate more social media enthusiasm than they can after getting statewide coverage on a statewide campaign. We’re closer to being a grassroots organization than they are!
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