Name With The Face: Mathew Gross
Job Title: Internet Communications Manager and Blogmaster
Organization: Dean for America
URLs: www.deanforamerica.com www.blogforamerica.com
Mathew Gross has changed the face of Presidential politics. As Internet communications manager and blogmaster for Howard Dean's campaign, Gross oversees an awesome communications infrastructure and has pioneered the Weblog as a grassroots political communications tool. Gross explains: "I believe in the power of the written word to change people's lives. It seemed that this new medium could reach political supporters. But it has been amazing to me how radically the Internet has changed presidential politics." Now, nearly all candidate sites emulate Gross' techniques.
"DeanforAmerica.com is among the top sites in the world," Gross says. "We have a tremendous amount of blog traffic: 1,000 comments per day and 25,000 readers. And we're one of the largest online contribution sites on the Net." To maintain control, Gross relies on a Convio CRM system to manage records for 300,000 supporters, Lyris for sending bulk email, and Movable Type to run the blog.
Gross explains how an econtent professional ended up working for Howard Dean. "In February 2003, I was living in Utah and writing for a political blog in my spare time. I was writing a lot about Howard Dean. He was the favorite grassroots candidate on the Internet, but his official site was static at the time. So I flew out to Vermont, walked into the campaign HQ and handed Joe Trippi (Dean's campaign manager) a memo about how we should engage people directly. Joe turned around in his chair and said: ‘You're hired'."
In a Day's Work: "I come in early and post a morning news roundup, and then we update the site with press releases, news reports and, of course, the blog. I'll often get emails from Governor Dean offering suggestions about the content. He understands how the site and the blog can reach people. For example when he released the Disability Rights Platform, he sent an email requesting prominent display on the site because it is an issue he's passionate about."
Oddest Encounter with a Dean Supporter: "An older couple came from California to Vermont and asked for Mathew Gross instead of Howard Dean. They wanted to take their picture with me. That was the first time I realized how people are really engaged with what I do."
View from the Desk: "In the campaign HQ the Internet team is right outside the Campaign Manager's door which illustrates the importance Joe Trippi places on the rapid response capabilities of the Internet." Outside Interest: "I'm a private pilot, but recently I have been too busy to fly."
If not Econtent, Then What?: "I'd be belaboring over my unfinished novel."