Campaigns & Elections has a provocatively headlined article on their site: “Meet the New General Consultant for 2018.” In it, they interview former RNC digital strategist, Samantha Osborne Reynolds who correctly argues that campaigns in 2018 need a digital strategist wrangling all of the constituent parts of an effective digital campaign strategy.
This is similar to how a campaign’s general consultant (known as a GC in campaign lingo) manages the various components of a campaign’s overall strategy: TV advertising, mail, digital, voter contact, fundraising, staff, message, and more. But given the complexity of digital particularly, it’s crucial that someone on the campaign team has oversight and knowledge of what digital strategy encompasses, which includes:
- Organic Social Media
- Paid Advertising
- Data & targeting
- Creative (videos & graphics)
- Online Fundraising
- Email Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Community Management
- Online infrastructure (hosting, DNC, etc)
- And much more
The GC of Digital role may be a bridge until the era when digital natives are taking on the GC role for more campaigns, but the disparate skill sets required to do all of these tasks well anticipates consultants, vendors, platforms, and agencies to trend towards increased specialization.
The current model of full-service digital firms, though there are many good ones out there, is unreasonable because with increased specialization, it’s
- Difficult for them to be good at each of these items because of the different talents involved.
- Unwise to expect them to focus on each of these items. They’ll be good at some and neglect others because you can’t have seven priorities.
- Cost prohibitive to compensate them for each one of these services. Most of them are already provided gratis to campaigns already without them knowing it.
As Osborne Reynolds puts it, Digital is “cost effective, it’s not cheap.”
The benefits of a GC of Digital include greater efficiency, effectiveness, and coordination. It’s a critical role in today’s modern campaign.
The question is whether campaign decision makers understand that value enough.