Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Maryland Democrats Plan "Media Monitoring & Rapid Response Program"

We acquired the following email from Maryland Democratic Party Political Director David Sloan describing the party's media monitoring and outreach program this year. The program is modeled on Barack Obama's presidential campaign and may be the most sophisticated media program the state has ever seen.

From: David Sloan [mailto:DSloan@mddems.org]
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 1:45 PM
To: David Sloan
Cc: David Sloan
Subject: Maryland's Democratic Media Monitoring & Rapid Response Program, Almost Ready For Launch

To All,

After months of preparation and recruitment, the” Maryland Democratic Media Monitoring & Rapid Response Program” is almost ready for its launch. Working with our initiative partners, OFA and “Maryland Grass Roots Response” we’ve assembled a team of program volunteers in every region of our State, and we plan to continue recruiting.

You’ve received this email because you attended a planning meeting in you region sometime over the past few months and we’re counting you as a member of our Rapid Response team.

During the next several days you will be hearing from us about your participation in one or more of our local teams:

Volunteer Teams

1. Letter to the Editor (LTE) teams
2. Radio/TV Talk Show Call-In Teams
3. Online Article Comment Posting Teams
4. Social Media (facebook, twitter, Linkedin, etc.)

Information on additional teams to come soon

We are also still looking for individuals who would like to serve as County Leaders for this initiative (details on the role of “County Leaders” can be found in the attached document)

If you already know which team you’d like to be a part of, please reply to this e-mail with that information.

The Maryland Democratic Media Monitoring & Rapid Response Initiative will be headquartered in Annapolis and staffed by Maureen Higgins, James Bragdon and Isaac Salazar in partnership with Dennie Martin of OFA (Organizing For America) and Yvette Lewis from MD Grassroots Rapid Response along with YOU at home in your counties.

Beginning soon, Isaac Salazar, Maryland Democratic Party New Media Director will send every program volunteer weekly informational updates which will include talking points, stats and messaging on Federal, Statewide and Local Democratic Leaders and issues. These updates will be provided regularly and constantly.

Dennie Martin, Yvette Lewis and I have been traveling the state talking with volunteers, and we are close to meeting our recruitment goal as we prepare to launch the program. Your participation is critical to helping us in ensuring the program’s success. There are only 273 days until Election Day – let’s make each one count!

Please do not hesitate to contact at our office if you have any questions

David Sloan

Political Director, Maryland Democratic Party
Office 410.269.8818
The email was accompanied by a 32-page Power Point presentation outlining the program for prospective participants. The rapid response teams will be comprised of volunteers working out of five regions.

County leaders will be responsible for organizing and training volunteers for membership in one of five teams:

LTE (letter to the editor) Team
Radio call-in Team
Electronic media and blog response Team
Online publication comment and posting Team
TV talk show monitoring and response Teams

Additionally, regional teams composed of county leaders "will serve as the 'crossroads' of where information is reported and received. These individuals will receive policy information, talking points & other data through the MDP communications staff – to be distributed to county rapid response and monitoring teams. These individuals will also receive information on articles, blogs or on-air segments that require a democratic response from monitoring teams in their region."

Here is what the Democratic plan says about blogs:

Blogs are now mainstream and need to be monitored. If you have your own blog, use it to set the record straight for your readers. Comments: much like in online news articles, create traffic and get a bloggers attention. However, beware of becoming a “troll.” If you happen to know a Blogger, reach out to them to write a guest blog post.
In the good old days, MPW had "readers." Now we will have both "readers" and "monitors." Well, site visits are site visits! Prospective trolls out there should know that we require readers to sign their full names in our comments. And who you calling mainstream, Dems? It's not as if the Post, Gazette or Sun will ever publish a headline including the words "Pimping Castle!"

Here's a description of the day-to-day operation of the program:

The MDP [Maryland Democratic Party] Communications Staff will - in collaboration with other Democratic representatives - identify needs for a media response or will proactively amplify our message as it pertains to the “news of the day” by activating one or more of following teams:

LTE (letters to the editor) Teams
Radio Call-in and TV Monitoring and Response Teams
Online Publication Comment Posting Teams
Electronic Media and Blog response Teams

MDP Communications Staff will send relevant policy information and talking points to Regional/County Leaders – who will, in turn, relay that information to our media Teams. Team members will use the information to perform their assigned task, and report any progress and action to their County Leader who will relay that information to MDP Communications Staff.

Rapid response volunteers will constantly monitor their assigned form of media. Upon the discovery of an article, blog, online publication comment(s) or radio segment that they (the team member ) believe requires a response, will immediately send an email to their County Leader who will in turn, relay the information to MDP Communications Staff.

From that point, after consultation with all appropriate parties, the MDP Communications Staff will determine whether to gather talking points and data for a response to be generated.

If a response is needed, then the process mentioned above (“From Annapolis to the ground”) will begin.

So what apppears to be spontaneous grass-roots action to casual news consumers will in fact be directed from party headquarters in Annapolis.

Look people, this is how 21st-Century political parties operate. If the Republicans had the capacity to mount this kind of operation, they would do it too. We just have two questions.

Will this procedure be used only against non-Democratic candidates? Or will the party also activate this network to protect incumbents in Democratic primaries?