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Katie Harbath: National Republican Senatorial Committee Chief Digital Strategist

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Broadcast 6/16/2010 at 05:00:00
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

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Currently Katie Harbath works at National Republican Senatorial Committee as their Chief Digital Strategist in charge of all their online efforts. Previously she worked at DCI Group, a public affairs firm in DC, where she oversaw all of their internet operations and online activities for clients. An active participant in online campaigning and communications since 2003, Harbath has also spoken at forums on how to best utilize the Internet in politics including Personal Democracy Forum and the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet at George Washington University. In 2009 she was named a Campaigns and Elections Rising Star.

Before re-joining DCI Group as a director in the Online Services division in 2008, Harbath was the Deputy eCampaign Director for Rudy Giuliani's Presidential Campaign. There, she was responsible for the Mayor's day-to-day Internet strategy including development of his campaign Web site, blog management, online videos and social networking.

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Prior to the Giuliani campaign Harbath held her first job at DCI Group in the Online Services division as a Senior Account Manager. She originally joined the firm after working as a Communications Director for a Congressional campaign in Ohio.

During the 2004 cycle, Harbath worked at the Republican National Committee where she was responsible for GOP.com the national party's Web site.

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Notes from the interview

Her boss is Senator John Cornyn, head of the NRSCC.

She routinely uses tweet deck.

They create "micro-sites" against various democrats-- Barbara Boxer, callmemaam.com based on Boxer asking a general to call her "senator" instead of Ma'am.

Then there's wrongwayreid.com -- goes through Reid's timeline.

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There are a whole host of these micro-sites.

Scott Brown is a good example of how the GOP trumped the democrats with digital strategies. "Nobody in their wildest imagination ever thought Republicans would get that seat.

Brown used his facebook and twitter pages to allow people to connect with him after the handshake.

Using digital approach requires letting go of control.

I ask how the jibes with the GOP's noted tight grip on message

She replies-- By being a part of the conversation on line it's helped them get their message out even more.

In some ways, it's easier to use social media as a minority-- Social media is blocked at the White Hourse.

Youtube and facebook had to create special pages for members of congress so there was no suggestion that a member of congress was endorsing an advertiser.

Pols need one twitter account for official business and another for campaign work.

Republicans have submitted calls for changes (in rules on social media use) that Dems have opposed.

Example-- using google search ads...

Digital franking privileges-- saves money but not anticipated

House administrative committee run by Robert Brady has not been responsive.

A lot of the rules were set 150 years ago.

The NRSCC has created the first iPhone app for a political committee

Has a news feed, integrated with facebook, twitter...

Over 1000 people have downloaded it so far.

Cost about $10,000

Text messaging is a major tool, not just for under 30's-- growing use by older people.

The future is still going mobile, especially the 2012 presidential election, with video and video editing on the fly, on the bus.

iPhones are not yet approved for use by members of congress email. But it's only a matter of time. Currently a lot of members use Blackberry for official use and iPhone for other use.

On transparency; Dems did back room deals on health care.

but... you don't always want to know how the sausage is made.

Katie has said a few times that she uses four or five ways to reach people-- facebook, twitter, youtube, text messaging, email and outreach to bloggers.

She spends a lot of time teaching communications staffers how to use twitter and edit video. "I"ve trained our political staff to use it as well."


People give more by getting them involved.

Big donors get real face time.social media helps enable digital schmoozing.

Other ways to connect and make contributors feel involved include:

Surveys, facebook townhalls, live on video, facebook, twitter, and "tell us what you think."

Information resources

techcrunch, mashable, zappos CEO (Tony Hsieh-- Delivering Happiness book), Seth Godin.

"When you look at it, politics is one big customer service line of work."

Example of bottom up in the GOP-- The tea party movement.

Started in summer 2008 in response to when Nancy Pelosi shut down congress before republican members had chance to speak. Fox news was forced to use video from cell phone cameras and flip cameras from GOP members.

Disputes idea that tea party movement was strictly created by Armitage and big funders, says it is a true bottom up, grassroots movement.

Agrees that using bottom up, digital technologies is a two edged sword-- you can't use them without being affected by them.

Size: 27,339,388 -- 1 hrs, 15 min, 56 sec


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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 


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