Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Project Vote Smart -- Shiny New Stuff for 2008

In an effort to open up lines of communication and clear up some confusion about the new stuff PVS has going for 2008, I've compiled a list of exciting new initiatives and programs that we are working on for this Presidential election season. It's kind of long, but broken down into 11 sections. Feel free to e-mail media@votesmart.org for clarification or more information on any of these.

Carolyn Holmes

1) Blog / Blog Outreach Program

We’ve started a blog (www.votesmart.org/blog) that will mostly cover updates on internal matters, and will serve as a forum in which people can stay connected with the day-to-day goings on of PVS. We have asked the department heads to regularly update the blog with information about their department, etc. We will also be updating it in the media department about goings-on with press releases, the PR firm, etc.

2) Purple Campaign

The PR firm that Project Vote Smart has come up with has officially adopted what we are calling (non-officially) the purple campaign. Purple obviously being the mix between red and blue, and signifying a rejection of mindlessly partisan politics. The color purple and the concept behind it are going to be the keystone of the 2008 campaign for Project Vote Smart. How exactly it will be integrated into our current website design, design of publications, etc. is yet to be seen.

3) Website redesign

This process is still in the works. We are working with Fly Communications to restructure the website, make it run more efficiently and make it represent our data better. We’ve completely handed the technology aspects over to them, and we are simply working on sending them suggestions, etc. The timetable for the entire overhaul is still very tentative, but it should be done before the end of the year.

4) PR Firm

That’s right, we’ve done it. We’ve professionalized our PR. Additionally, we are most likely going to be purchasing airtime, print space and web banner ads to get the word out about PVS. There have been no final decisions made in terms of exactly what/when/where these paid spots will be aired, printed, or put up on the web but we will certainly be taking out time and money to design and implement these ideas. Additionally, the PR company is working on “branding” PVS, and we are working with them to potentially set up an on-line store, and several giveaway items for the bus tour that we will be embarking upon.

5) Michael Boh

As of last weekend, Michael Boh – a prominent fundraiser in the LA area, and who also has a lot of connections in New York – has officially signed a contract with Project Vote Smart to be a full time fundraiser. He has decided to get out of other obligations and jobs that he was in the middle of and take up the mission of PVS. As part of his contract, he has gotten a good deal of autonomy and maneuvering space. He has worked with a number of groups and has done some informal work for PVS. We are very excited about adding him to the PR/Membership/fundraising efforts of PVS. He came up to the Montana office for a week in the beginning of July and was very dedicated to learning all about the research we are doing, etc. He left the Project very excited, and has been in almost constant contact while developing fundraising plans/strategies and communicating with the PR firm to help develop their PR plans.

You can check out his bio at: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/915/668

Or: http://www.bestnewagency.com/html/bios.html

6) Bus Tour

As you have probably heard, and as I’ve referenced earlier, Project Vote Smart is planning a bus tour. Basically, we will be taking a tour bus, painting it purple and applying some graphics and text consistent with PVS, the website and the Purple Campaign, and taking it around the country. Our goal is to visit almost all of the states having early primaries before they hold their elections, and then over the spring and summer do several regional tours, hitting as many community oriented functions as possible. We will also be visiting universities, fairs and possibly working with the LWV and Rock the Vote to get people registered and ready to vote.

7) PVS Video on Demand Channel

Project Vote Smart is currently in the process of developing a portion of the Election 2008 Video on Demand Channel as part of the programming from National Cable Communications (NCC). PVS will be providing information on candidates for several elected office, including President of the United States. This channel will also include background information about PVS and the services we provide. This VoD channel will reach the homes of millions of voters in all parts of the country.

8) Speaking Tour

In addition to the tour with the big purple bus, there are several executive board members who have volunteered to go on tour with the message of PVS. In cooperation with the PR company, we have designed a tutorial for the average American voter about the PVS database of information and the importance of getting information leading up to the election. Richard, Adelaide and a handful of board members will be hitting the road with this lecture, presenting it at a number of colleges and universities, in addition to civic fora and community organizations.

9) APIs

The API will allow people outside our organization to integrate our data into their applications. An application could be a website, standalone program, or pretty much anything in the computer world. The API will respond to simple requests for data, such as 'get bio information for candidate Y' and 'get Votes for candidate X.' Each type of request (get bio, get votes) has to be planned for, and the initial release of the API will provide the responses for what we expect to be our more frequent requests.

10) Key Votes Improvements

In Key Votes, we’ve officially reached back to 1993 with Historic Congressional Key Votes. Additionally, votes can now be tagged under multiple categories which makes searching faster and easier.

11) NPAT Improvements

We have officially digitized the NPAT form and the Biographical Information form, so that candidates can fill them out and submit them online. This long awaited improvement will certainly speed the process of data entry and checking, needless to say also reducing headaches from trying to decipher unintelligible handwriting from candidates.