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Topics: Expert Advice, Campaign Staff, Small-Dollar Fundraising, Fundraising, Republican

What Does a Digital Director Do?

Digital Directors Play Increasingly Essential Roles on Republican Campaigns

In today's elections and political campaign world, digital campaigning IS campaigning. The Digital Director plays a growing and crucial leadership role in all strategic aspects of Republican campaigns.

What Does a Digital Director Do?
What Does a Digital Director Do?

And yet, even today, too many candidates and campaign managers don't believe they need to hire a dedicated or full-time Digital Director.

Most savvy Republican candidates recognize the digital necessities of a campaign begin on Day One. A political campaign's digital requirements are more extensive than what can be accomplished by any one person and often include:

  • Posting content across several social media channels.
  • Crafting digital strategies with compelling calls-to-action.
  • Raising thousands of dollars online with e-commerce and fundraising tools.
  • Creating on-point memes to lambast opponents.
  • Building an army of social media warriors to share, repost, and amplify messages.
  • Propelling the candidate toward achieving each campaign milestone.

As a result, the top-performing digital campaigns use a hybrid approach which includes outsourcing various activities to Republican digital firms while keeping some in-house.

Digital Director

The campaign's Digital Director heads up the in-house digital and coordinates with digital vendors.


Top Republican digital firms, like The Prosper Group, work seamlessly to provide top-notch services like digital advertising, fundraising, and opposition meme-making, honed for winning elections.

The campaign's Digital Director heads up the in-house digital and coordinates with digital vendors.


Table of Contents



Digital Directors: The GOP's Digital Unicorns

The challenge remains: Finding talented Republican digital staff is difficult. Finding a seasoned Digital Director with expertise in GOP politics is rare. These "digital unicorns" are now some of the most sought-after positions in the campaign world.

A Digital Director essentially has four jobs. They are:

  1. Spread the content created by the campaign across digital channels.
  2. Use digital channels for fundraising.
  3. Help with voter identification and GOTV efforts to win.
  4. Manage digital agency relationships for the campaign.

The hybrid solution combats the shortage of Republican-focused digital expertise. By pairing an internal Digital Director, or small internal digital team, with a Republican digital marketing agency, GOP campaigns are prepared to share their message where it matters most: online.

Four Elements of Success: Mastering the Digital Director's Role

Content Creation

First, the Digital Director must collaborate with the Campaign's Communications Director to closely create and coordinate impactful digital advocacy.

Let's face it; political campaigns produce a lot of content. A good Digital Director will coordinate and collaborate with the Communications Director to ensure that all content can be re-purposed across multiple digital channels, including social media, email, text messages, and more.

In many cases, the Digital Director will create much of the content — and lead the campaign's online strategies, insights, content categories, news items, etc.

Digital Director as Content Creator

Content creation is core to digital spanning the entire scope of the strategy, content ideation, production, editing, publication, and everything in between.


Digital mediums require repackaging of content. For example, a Digital Director may choose to abbreviate a specific content item for a Twitter post vs. a longer format Facebook post. Likewise for emails vs. texts. A Digital Director uses agencies like The Prosper Group as copywriters, website developers, editors, ad buyers, and to place content in specific locations.

And of course, one of the most critical roles for a Digital Director is making sure that the campaign website is up-to-date and running properly. The mediums of communication may change frequently, but the content will ultimately be anchored to the website.

Digital Fundraising

Second, the Digital Director will guide and lead fundraising across digital channels.

Depending on where the campaign is in the election cycle, fundraising may be the primary focus for a Digital Director. Raising money for a candidate to share their message and raise name awareness is now essential for a successful campaign. Whether fundraising is managed in-house or by an agency, the Digital Director will focus on key messages, the timing of the outreach, and the recognition of donors.

Digital Director as Fundraiser

Demonstrating fundraising capabilities is becoming a proving ground for many Digital Directors.


Because there is a relatively low cost to sending out email and other forms of digital communication, digital has become central to Republican fundraising strategy. As digital delivers fundraising "wins" for candidates and PACs, Republican candidates and leaders are accelerating their transition to digital-first fundraising strategies.

Get Out The Vote

Third, a Digital Director must Get Out the Vote (GOTV) and WIN.

In the end, votes matter… a lot. While successful Digital Directors organize the content and fundraising for the campaign and candidate, they will also be driving "calls to action" aimed at delivering votes and the campaign's ability to win.

Digital Director as Advocate

Delivering a "win" is achieved by using every digital tool available to help with voter identification and getting out the vote.


Digital tools and tactics can include importing voters lists, helping to organize local chapters over social media, engaging key online influencers, matching voter records to digital interactions with constituents, and of course, last-minute small-dollar fundraising.

Digital Vendor Relations

Fourth, the Digital Director manages the campaign's relationships with digital agencies.

The bigger digital budgets get, the more critical the role of Digital Director becomes. And digital budgets continue to grow with each election cycle. In 2020, digital accounted for $1.6 billion in political ad spending, or 18% of total ad spend.

Digital Director as Relationship Manager

With growing digital budgets, the role of the Digital Director is moving substantially toward managing these relationships and the balance between in-house and outsourced digital.


Successful digital campaigns require not just strategy, planning, and execution but optimization and reporting. These demands are the same across direct response, persuasion, and get out the vote and lead to the preeminence of the hybrid model between in-house digital and Republican digital vendors.

With growing digital budgets, the role of the Digital Director is moving substantially toward managing these relationships and the balance between in-house and outsourced digital.

Expert Advice

Let's look at the winning relationship between Digital Directors and Republican digital agencies – and how hybrid structures create the best opportunities for "wins."

The Prosper Group's Senior Digital Account Manager, Katy Abram, shares her expert advice on the topic. With more than ten years of experience with campaigns, elections, and advocacy, Katy knows what it takes to deliver winning digital campaigns.

Here is what Katy shares with candidates, campaign managers, and digital directors looking to maximize their digital impact:

Digital Expert: Katy Abram

Katy Abram

Digital Directors and Republican Digital Firms

First

If you want to have a successful digital presence for your campaign, make sure you and your digital vendor start on the right foot from the beginning. Provide your vendor with:

  • Candidate-approved images;
  • A definitive list of expectations; and
  • A clear outline of who owns the various facets of digital.

Second

Everyone underestimates the investment of time and human resources it takes to be really successful with digital strategies on campaigns.

Some campaign leaders attempt to take digital on themselves entirely, from posting organic content to running ads and everything in between. Other campaigns look to a digital agency to handle all of the facets of digital. And usually, it shows, and NOT in a good way.

My advice: You need both a digital director and an agency.

Some may think this is not worth the investment. I would advise that not investing in both could be detrimental to your campaign's ability to be agile and effective.

Third

Having a talented digital director coordinate with an agency will allow the campaign to provide consistent and relevant content AND capture on-the-ground activities that can be used organically and by their digital firm optimizing ads to reach key audiences.

Fourth

Find a digital agency that will allow your campaign to scale the digital content AND compliment your team's skills.

But again, finding a strong GOP digital expert is akin to finding a unicorn. They are rare and hard to come by. Top Republican firms, like The Prosper Group, invest in people, tools, and training to rival elite digital marketing agencies. This "plug and play" talent and experience provide an instant solution to exploiting a digital campaign strategy.

At Prosper, we work diligently to maintain continuity across multiple cycles. Your account manager will retain institutional knowledge of your campaign and be an asset to you cycle-after-cycle.

When bringing a digital director on board with your campaign, their main focus should be building an online community of volunteers, obtaining approvals for digital creative, and providing assets and messaging talking points to the digital agency. This approach allows the agency to be nimble and on message with the ground game and other advertising tactics such as TV, radio, and mail.

Digital directors play many roles in today's Republican campaigns. And successful directors clearly understand how to make the most of a hybrid digital model, freeing up staff time while outsourcing implementation to experts within agencies.

The hybrid digital model is effective at any level of campaign and serves as the foundation for future election cycles.

 

Winning Digital with The Prosper Group

If you have additional questions about hiring a Digital Director or working with a digital agency, our experts at The Prosper Group have the answers you need.

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The Prosper Group is an internationally recognized, award-winning digital marketing agency headquartered in Indianapolis. The firm specializes in online media, strategy, and fundraising for Republican political candidates, advocacy organizations, associations, and non-profits. The Prosper Group's best-in-industry work has been recognized for awards dozens of times by prestigious organizations such as the American Association of Political Consultants and Campaigns & Elections.

The firm has worked in tandem with Trump for President 2016, Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Ted Cruz, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Congressman John Katko, the National Association of Manufacturers, Fox News, and many other candidates and organizations.

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