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No "Twitter Jitters" Here - Election Officials Get Social Media

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[Image courtesy of sasquatcha.com]

Monday's Politico featured a story by Dave Levinthal entitled "K Street Suffers from Twitter Jitters" which described many traditional DC lobbying firms' struggles to incorporate social media into their daily operations. It's a classic old school/new school story, as seen in these two contrasting excerpts:

The underlying reason for this digital disconnect, numerous lobbyists say, is straightforward: They'd rather meet than tweet, plying a craft through the traditional but effective methods of sit-downs and phone calls uninhibited by 140 character limits.

"As a lobbyist, I would argue that there's nothing better than face-to-face contact," said Campbell Kaufman, managing partner of Cornerstone Government Affairs.

and

For Shana Glickfield, a partner at D.C.-based public affairs firm Beekeeper Group, large lobbying firms have little time to waste when it comes to their remedial social media training.

When Glickfield looks at the demographics of Capitol Hill staffers, she sees people in their 20s and 30s, most of whom communicate via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and various other social media offerings as people 20 years ago would have a land-line telephone or written memorandum.

My favorite quote in the article, however, comes from Nick Allard of DC powerhouse Patton Boggs (emphasis mine): "I'm sure when lawyers or lobbyists used the telegraph for the first time, they faced this kind of issue ... [b]ut you cannot be a Luddite and a lobbyist. Luddite lobbyists go out of business."

I especially enjoyed reading this story because it reminded me how well the election community is adapting to the rise of social media. More and more election offices are using social media every day - as evidenced by the "election officials" Twitter list curated by Jeannie Layson at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (@EACgov).

This growing trend is reassuring in that it demonstrates the commitment of election offices to, in the words of Beekeeper's Glickman, "go[ing] where people are spending their time."

In the weeks and months ahead, we'll look at the different ways election offices are using social media - and introduce some tools that offices can use to maximize their presence in the Twitter-sphere and elsewhere online.

If nothing else, it's always nice to have a head start on K Street, no?

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