Anyone visiting this site in a browser may have seen that the ad for Tom Cross’s office changed over the weekend. What was a simple ad about how the GOP isn’t the devil (talk about a message!) is now something much more intriguing: a web-based documentary about Tom Cross’s efforts at winning back the Illinois House. (Cross is the Republican who is the House Minority Leader.)
Note that signup page before you get to watch the trailer? Cross’s team has figured out that splash pages like this are a terrific way to gather names and e-mail addresses (if I were them, I’d add a zip code field too) for future communication. You should sign up – the trailer is excellent and is a harbinger of things to come. What Cross & team have figured out is that the web is a unique medium that can make people feel like they’re part of the team. Cross is taking pages (chapters?!) out of the Dean team’s playbook, and executing them masterfully. Watch the trailer (and episodes to come) and you’ll feel like you’re on the inside. You’ll see that there’s a strategy behind their efforts, that they’re thinking several steps ahead and experimenting a bit. (And as a teaser: there’s more to come, straight out of Dean’s campaign. Stay tuned.)
Your homework? Compare and contrast with the Illinois Democratic Party’s website. I’m not sure, but I think Madigan might want to hurt me with that gavel. (Memo to the team: our candidate is John Kerry, so you can update this page. And would it kill you to have links to all the other candidates?)
Bottom line: Cross, unique among Illinois politicians at all levels, is embracing the technology. They’re not doing it for technology’s sake: they’re doing it to engage their supporters (and, more importantly, those who are undecided) in a way that’s entertaining and informative. Want to bet they swing a few minds in the process? Henry’s concerned that the Republicans in Illinois are missing the boat. If Cross is any evidence (and I think he is), they may just have signs of life after all.