Republicans have a new subscription service to help them navigate the digital ecosystem.
Best Practice Digital wants to help campaigns, PACs and groups on the right formulate digital strategy and get the “maximum output” from their effort — and from their vendors.
“I like to find the right niche of what people are good at. Some vendors are good at one or two pieces – I don’t think anyone expects everyone to be good at everything,” said Eric Wilson, who launched the platform together with Arpit Patel.
“I think this will actually be welcomed by other agencies because they’ll be better clients — better informed and better trained.”
In many ways, Best Practice Digital is an evolution of Wilson’s website, LearnTestOptimize.com, which discussed campaign best practices. “I noticed that things weren’t really getting the traction that they needed,” he said.
Hence the new site, which will also feature a blog with similar content including “tutorials on how to make sure your website is secure,” and “how to make sure your email campaign is the best it can be.” It also will have handy tools like ready-made petitions, which a campaign could customize.
Moreover, for the $250-a-month fee subscribers can get a monthly check in from Wilson and Patel, who will audit their digital programs.
“My commitment is to the client, but I also want to work with their team. It’s a holistic approach,” said Wilson, who was Ed Gillespie’s digital director during his 2017 Virginia gubernatorial run. “For a lot of the clients, they’ll learn and grow and not need us anymore. [But] there are always more candidates coming into the space.”
Wilson is pitching the service as a unique alternative to just hiring a digital consultant or firm.
“It’s a new model in terms of delivering campaigns strategy and advice that I don’t think has been tried before,” he said. “I don’t want to be in the position of advising clients to buy more of the thing that I sell. I want my strategy to stand on its own.”
While the subscription model is new, other practitioners on the right have made a similar play before. Last year, Sam Osborne Reynolds launched the shingle Battle Rhythm Strategies to help bring big picture planning and digital coordination to clients on the right. At the time, Osborne Reynolds said: "There are so many tools and so many [platforms] out there. I'm trying to give them the best guidance on how to build and manage a digital operation. That's my service. Not the actual execution.”
But for campaigns with tight cashflow, the idea of spending money on a consultant to save money in the long run through greater efficiency or transparency was difficult to accept. Osborne Reynolds later became the senior director of digital strategy at Advoc8.
Since then, digital consultants and their tactics have faced greater scrutiny. In a recent C&E piece, GOP media strategist Will Ritter wrote: “[t]he era of just saying some digital jargon and expecting to receive 20 percent of the voter contact budget is over. A lot of the GCs have gotten smart to it. On campaigns, it’s all about getting that poll number up.”
Now, Wilson believes that low-cost and the greater vendor oversight his service provides could give him an opening this cycle. “We may surface a communication issue,” he said. “As a third-party voice, I can be helpful there.”
The service can also fill the void down-ballot, where a campaign might not be able to afford a digital shop’s retainer — or even a full-time experienced digital staffer. Wilson said his prospective clients are “the candidates who may have a small team, but who are committed to working on this and getting it right.”
“Unfortunately,” he added, “there just isn’t the sort of talent pool on the right to make sure every campaign has a top-notch digital strategist on their campaign.”