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New From The NRCC: TheRealDemocratStory.com

BY Michael Turk | Thursday, March 29 2007

Two disclaimers... This is probably not strictly qualified for a post on TechPresident since it deals with Congressional efforts, but I wanted to post on it since it does reflect how one of the national committees is doing things online. I'm cross posting to PDF as well, and if Micah nukes the TP version, I'll know why.

The second thing I have to say is I'm not normally a big fan of microsites. I tend to look at online efforts as a marketing campaign, rather than a communications tool. My problem with microsites in that context is they distance themselves from your branding rather than extending it.

I've also not been too impressed with the stuff the NRCC puts out, but I have to say I like this site. Content aside, the layout is clean, it's very focused, it looks sharp, and it clearly conveys what they want you to know.

Going to the microsite point, the NRCC could just as easily have built this into their existing framework, used the same url to deep link to the page, and accomplished the same goal.

Most Communications people will say, "we don't want it to look like it's coming from us" as the reason for pushing a separate url. Given the fact that you are required to disclaim it, that argument is sort of goofy at best.

Granted, some people may be turned off by the NRCC branding and question it's integrity. Those same people, however, probably scrolled immediately to the bottom of this, read the disclaimer, and had a worse reaction because they felt the NRCC was trying to bury its involvement. You are legally required to indicate that it's yours. Why not just embrace it?

The only other thing that bothers me about the site is the size of their donation appeal. It's small and gets lost in the mix on the side. This type of red-meat content will spur your target audience to give, so you should make that easier to do and make the ask more obvious.

Back Pages

The back pages on the site are content rich. Again, whether you agree with the content or not isn't the point of this post. The fact is they have done a good job of making a lot of material easily digestible.

The only point I would quibble with is the "rubber stamp of approval". If you're targeting new members, less than 90 days into the Congress, having enormous banners touting synchronized votes is sort of an overreach in my book. That space, again, could have been used to give more prominence to your donation appeal.

There is also one significant point of confusion I have with the back pages. There is an option to "Blog against <insert name>". Clicking on that takes you to a form, which I would have expected to take me to a blog where I could discuss the site. Filling out the form does nothing. I assume that's supposed to be some sort of pledge to go blog on my own, or maybe to get information about the specific member that I can use on my blog. I honestly don't know because it's not explained very well.

What's Missing

On the blog point, I wish they had included a blog in the site. They could easily have kept it fresh with headlines about the members they had chosen, and could have fed discussion of the effort amongst visitors. I've decried that lack of openness in my party before, however, so I wasn't surprised to see the sender-receiver model employed yet again.

I will say I am greatly surprised by one thing. The NRCC has never had a large budget for online activities. Their web guys have generally been frustrated by their larger siblings because they get the cool toys. The NRCC is sort of the red-headed step child in the family. This site, however, is an indication that the NRCC may be growing up and ready to slap his siblings around a bit.