There’s no doubt that democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama knows how to use the web to improve his chances of being elected this November. His campaign has used the internet to raise millions in funds and our own research has proven that Obama’s efforts have created a very positive online reputation.
However, his smartest move to date could be the launch of the FightTheSmears.com web site. The site–actually it redirects to a page on the my.barackobama.com web site–is Obama’s initiative to address the many rumors that circulate the internet about him.
Here’s an example:
So why could this be his smartest online move yet? As we explain in Radically Transparent, in the absence of an official response, stakeholders–in this case voters–will fill the gaping void with rumor and speculation.
In other words, if Obama continued to let these rumors spread and grow, they would become facts in the eyes of the voting public. While some may say that you should not shine your own spotlight on a negative rumor, my advice is always to address it head-on. Just because you ignore a slanderous remark, doesn’t mean it will go away.
There’s another huge benefit Barack Obama will get from the launch of Fight The Smears. He’s now hosting the conversation.
Hosting the conversation is at the top of my list of recommendations, for anyone facing a reputation attack. Trying to respond to rumors on individual blogs and forums is akin to playing a game of whack-a-mole–the moment you respond to one rumor, another appears. Instead, by creating your own platform for response, you’re inviting everyone to come to you. It will be much easier for Obama’s campaign to respond to rumors, if the media and voting public know where to find the official response. In fact, the site goes one step further by inviting you to email the “truth” to your friends.
A few months ago, it would have been trite to say that Barack Obama would win the Presidential election because of his online campaigning. With Fight The Smears, Obama is demonstrating he really is the candidate that is not afraid to change the rules.