Posted June 13, 2008 4:39 pm by with 34 comments

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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 web site. The site–actually it redirects to a page on the 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.

  • Another perk of hosting the conversation is that since he is publishing the rumors and his replies, and will definitely get a ton of links, his page will show up pretty high in the search results for either.

    Mike’s last blog post..Google Reader on a ASUS Eee PC

  • If Obama really is a Christian, why am I just now finding out about it on

    Great to report the news, but why hasn’t this been reported anywhere else?

    Additionally, his site seems to be down right now..

    Jonathan Dingman’s last blog post..Return of the 404

  • The biggest problem with this being hosted at his site is that it makes it less credible for many people. They’ll just say that “he’s lying on his own website”.

    I would have liked to have seen this not forward to his site and stay independent somehow. More people would believe the debunks, maybe.

    Jim Kukral’s last blog – My Wife’s First Blog

  • But who else besides Obama can actually refute them and if he’s going to do it it might as well be on his own site.

    Also Jonathan, didn’t you hear all the news about the controversy his pastor was causing and how Obama stopped going to that church?

    Mike’s last blog post..Google Reader on a ASUS Eee PC

  • @Mike,

    I absolutely did not miss that controversy, but there’s no way I would have believed that was for Christianity.

    I’m a Christian myself, so that’s why I have such a hard time believing that was for the Christian faith.

    Jonathan Dingman’s last blog post..Return of the 404

  • Sorry, don’t really want to this into an off topic Obama thing, but this was his church: (Trinity United Church of Christ). I won’t make any judgements on whether it is a “good” christian church since I don’t go to any church, but it definitely is not Muslim.

    The fact that not everybody knows this just points to exactly why he needs this site. I would suggest that McCain should start a similar one if he hasn’t.

    Mike’s last blog post..Google Reader on a ASUS Eee PC

  • @Jonathan – Thanks for clearing that up. All this time, I had assumed you were a Buddhist like myself. 😉

  • @Hawaii SEO

    Odd, what would have given you that impression?

    Jonathan Dingman’s last blog post..Return of the 404

  • @Jim – I have to disagree. Hosting it on his own site is the perfect thing to do–it’s his official response.

  • Andy, I hear what you’re saying. I guess I just feel that many people will write it off as him “covering” it up. But I guess those are the type of people who couldn’t, or don’t want to be, convinced otherwise anyway. So your way is probably the smartest thing.

    I think it’s a great idea regardless. I wonder why more companies don’t try this. Oh, wait, companies don’t have faults in their own eyes. 🙂

    Jim Kukral’s last blog – My Wife’s First Blog

  • NinaK

    People who do not like Senator Obama use the blogs to spead lies and slander about Senator Obama. Others who only read these blogs and do not bother to do any research on their own take these absurdities as the truth and repeat the same crapola on yet other blogs. So, I am very happy Senator Obama has decided to fight the smears (lies, and slander) in the same way in which they spread—the internet!! I love this man, he is so innovative and is not afraid to stand up for what is right!! He will make a wonderful President and Commander-in-Chief!

  • NinaK

    Sorry, don’t really want to this into an off topic Obama thing, but this was his church: (Trinity United Church of Christ). I won’t make any judgements on whether it is a “good” christian church since I don’t go to any church, but it definitely is not Muslim.

    The fact that not everybody knows this just points to exactly why he needs this site. I would suggest that McCain should start a similar one if he hasn’t.

    Posted by Mike
    Senator McCain, like the Clintons, has not bothered to learn the modern way of communicating via the internet. He seemed very surprised that there was such a thing. Clinton mentioned that she did not know the difference between a floppy disk and a CD. Guess they really don’t believe in change, do they?? The politics they embody are the politics of yesteryear, further testimony they do not believe in change. I’ll take the guy who is up-to-date with today’s world and who truly believes in change, change we can all believe in! YES WE CAN!!

  • NinaK

    oopps, forgot to mention that Bill Clinton does not use e-mail because he is not familiar with it. :):) Talk about out of date!!

  • In these discussions, one factor has been overlooked. Senator Obama played his internet cards brilliantly and continues to do so. This has been a major factor in ensuring that the other contender, lost. Senator Clinton’s campaign was flat footed, to say the least. Sad.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Lighting Up The House

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  • They’re pretty smart over there at Obamaland. I noticed that they also grabbed the domain (with one “T”) for those who can’t spell. Good that they got it before some right wing group did.

  • Bill Parker

    Where can I send Email with smears I recieve? Recieveing lots of damaging stuff.

  • Referring to the example given:

    Does it bother anyone else that to be called a Muslim is a ‘smear’?

    Apologies for drifting off-topic, I just find it disconcerting that incorrect information about religious beliefs is seen as such an indictment of character that it needs to be so firmly corrected.

    When did Islam become a dirty word?

    Imogen Moore’s last blog post..Maya has gone – er – MIA

  • Online reputation management is definitely set to become an indispensible political tool, as so clearly illustrated by Mr Obama’s efforts.

  • @Imogen – I agree with you. Then again, if someone said I was Australian, I would consider that a rumor that I would want to correct–and I love Australians. 😉

  • Internet is a powerful tool and I can even suppose that with its help Barack Obama will have thу big opportunity to win or to be within leaders.. who knows?

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  • I really hope that Obama will win this election. But i am not very optimistic. The American people voted for the idiot Bush 2 times in a row. One time can be an error. But 2 times? Thats just plain stupid.

  • Virus marketing in action. By Barack Obama.

    Symbian’s last blog post..Nokia S60 Symbian Windows Live client available in Europe

  • The internet continues to grow as a tool to reach the masses. The web really is a reflection of our culture and society. Those who recognize that (Obama) and can use it intelligently will continue to find new ways to influence the masses.

    Top Rated’s last blog post..The Very Best Digital SLR Cameras

  • Well done to him for using the Internet. He is helping to show the way for on-line reputation management.

  • I’ll visit to find more facts about Obama. Do the others candidate using internet to build their reputation too?

  • Now that really shows us that no publicity is bad publicity. Here’s a case of Obama having his cake and eating it too. Plenty of supporters and other curious people will check it out.

    Eva White’s last blog post..Canada’s Apology To The Indian People

  • Pretty clever step for Obama and page is quite informative as well. But I doubt that “Barack Obama knows how to use the web to improve his chances of being elected this November”, I am sure that this knows his internet marketer.

  • david john nyakwamba

    if they think obama is not a good democrat candidate, then let them teach themselves about what the would be if there was only one race! i.e the WHITES………….

  • david john nyakwamba

    we have millions browsing every hour, i think it’s a clever move. go for it BARACK!

  • Senator Obama is NOT a Dirty Muslim!

    “What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge,” says Mr. Obama, while denouncing statements of him being a Muslim as a smear. Why is the presidential candidate who claims to be religiously inclusive is treating the word “Muslim” as an insult? Apparently, it is OK for Mr. Obama to be associated with terrorists like William Ayers or racists like Jeremiah Wright, but God forbid somebody would call him a Muslim! No, he won’t stand for that kind of smear! We admit that most terrorists are Muslims, but most Muslims are not terrorists and the statement on Mr. Obama’s website is insulting to hundreds of millions of people.

    How could a man who discards his family heritage in favor of political expediency be even considered for presidency of the United States? Where are all the so-called “Islamic civil rights groups” like CAIR, MPAC, ISNA, MAS, etc. who are quick to defend every Islamic terrorist, but are silent when Muslims in general are being denigrated? Would Mr. Obama have the same reaction if someone claimed that he was raised as a Jew? We sincerely doubt that.

    Muslims Against Sharia demand immediate removal of “SMEAR: Barack Obama is a Muslim” statement from the official Barack Obama’s website as well as an apology for giving the word “Muslim” a negative connotation.

  • tom

    Is is coincidence that the banner across the top of this page is for “White Label Web Design” from askgraphics?

  • erik

    I think up until now Obama’s web strategy has been smart and well calculated. The Fight the Smears site I however find to be incredibly insulting to the intelligence of voters. The smears the site “debunks” are so outrageous and unrelated to the campaign that the website itself is could be considered a smear towards not only the Republican party but to intelligent votes.

    Any interesting juxtaposition to the mudslinging of this site is another, which relies on sources like the Washington Post to bring clarity to the political spin running so rampant.