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Hillwatch E-services: Benchmarking Canadian Web Sites During the 2006 Election

Online benchmark shows progress since 2004 election, but opportunities missed to leverage grassroots in election race

Ottawa, Ontario January 10 2006 – A Hillwatch e-services study released today concludes Canadian political parties are doing a better job waging their campaigns online compared to the 2004 election.  While they are getting their message out better, they still are not leveraging the wisdom of the crowd or providing opportunities for visitors to become active and engaged. 

The Hillwatch report “Still virtually lawn signs: Benchmarking Canadian Web Sites During the 2006 Election” updates an earlier study of the 2004 election.  The main findings are:

  • Canadian parties make more strategic use of the Internet relative to their 2004 election efforts.  This shows in the improvements to their election web sites in the 18 months since the previous election.  However, despite these improvements, they continue to be very much like lawn signs – they still inform, but don’t engage. 
  • Canadian political web sites lag their US and UK counterparts.  This is particularly underscored in the way the UK and US make use of the channel to deliver highly targeted and regionally specific content, support grassroots initiatives, and raise funds.
  • Canadian party web sites have added a lot interactive features (blogs, Real Simple Syndication (RSS), podcasts, etc.), and are using sites and email to aggressively disseminate their messages and rebut those of their opponents.   Despite this, visitors to Canadian election web sites are treated largely as passive information consumers. 
  • Canadian political parties clearly examined the online experiences of political parties elsewhere, adapting new practices to their current campaigns.  In many cases, it is the right idea but often a case of poor execution – particularly in the use of e-mail for outreach, online donations, messaging and usability.  The implementation of party online strategies lacks some of the sophistication noted in the US and the UK.
  • The US still leads in using the web to engage and empower the grassroots.  Both the Kerry and Bush campaigns provided online tools to allow supporters to create and connect with their engaged peers with minimal party involvement.  No such tools are available on Canadian or UK party web sites.

To view full report, visit http://www.hillwatch.com/VirtuallyLawnSigns2.aspx

Based in Ottawa and Boston, Hillwatch e-Services provides comprehensive e-strategies built around issues and communities and unique performance evaluation products for the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Contact: Alex Langshur
Tel: (613) 238-8700 ext 1002
Cell phone: (781) 454-7654
Email: alangshur@hillwatch.com

Hillwatch Inc., 45 O’Connor St. Suite 1150, Ottawa ON K1P 1A4 tel: (613) 238-8700 fax: (866) 310-4955