Millions of people around the country are waiting anxiously by their cell phones and PDAs for what might be the most highly anticipated text message in the history of mobile communications. Presidential candidate Barack Obama—who has already blazed a bandwidth trail by his non-traditional online campaigning tactics—is expected to text supporters who have registered for updates his choice for a running mate, and that text will likely arrive within the next 24 hours.
It’s a wildly innovative approach, given the gravity of the announcement in contrast to the perceived casualness of text message conversations. But, from a communications standpoint, it just might be his most brilliant move yet. After all, everyone knows that the most effective communications strategies are those that directly target and engage influential stakeholders—in this case, voters—and make them feel empowered. By using the announcement-via-text-message approach, Obama has signaled to his supporters that he wants them to be the first to know about his nomination, which has been one of the best-kept secrets in the weeks leading up to this moment.
Whether or not you are an Obama fan, this marks an evolution of digital, one-on-one communications strategies to the level of national politics. When voters are able to cast their ballots via phone, we’ll know we have entered a new era. Until then, the country waits with baited breath for a simultaneous beeping of cell phones signaling that you’ve got mail.