National Journal's daily publication the Hotline featured a Q&A with Flat Creek Strategies' managing partner Allen Fuller. Allen discussed his experiences working on federal and statewide races, as well as in the U.S. House and Senate. He also took a look at where the business of politics is heading.
A Fuller Perspective on New Media
Allen Fuller is the managing partner at Flat Creek Strategies, a Nashville-based GOP web consulting firm. Prior to Flat Creek, Fuller was a senior account exec. in the interactive practice group of Fleishman-Hillard, an int'l comm. firm. He previously served as press sec. for then-Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO) and was comm. dir. of Beauprez's '02 camp. But today, he is our Consultant Candid.
What was your first job?
When I first moved to DC after grad school, I had the great opportunity to work for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) as an LC. It was the ideal way to get to know the Hill and the issues.
What is your proudest moment professionally?
There's actually two moments tied to each other that stand out. First, in early 2005 I left a great job at Fleishman-Hillard to start my own business. It seemed crazy at the time, but it gave me the chance to do something I had always wanted to do. I spent months working out of the spare bedroom in our Alexandria condo, not sure if I was doing the right thing. The second moment was on Election Day 2008, after a difficult cycle for Republicans, every incumbent we were working for won re-election, making all that work in the beginning worthwhile.
If you could be in any other line of work, what would it be?
It's hard to say, because I love what I do. My dad was a contractor, and I always loved helping him, so probably something related to construction.
Of what political campaign (past, present or future) would you most like to be a part?
What individual who does your kind of work for the other party do you respect the most, and why?
I really respect Blue State Digital. They are very focused and do first class projects. In new media, we run into a lot of pushback from campaigns and other consultants. BSD has managed to navigate through that and work with campaigns strategically to provide some exciting results. The tools they've built are amazing, and no one on the Republican side has been able to replicate their success.
Negative campaigning -- good or bad?
There's almost always a time to draw contrasts with your opponent, but it can't be done without being a part of a broader plan and message.
What is your favorite restaurant to meet clients?
The Oak Bar in the historic Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.
What is the first section of the newspaper you read?
I generally get news on Twitter.
A question from last week's participant, Tyler Harber of Wilson Research Strategies: Has the infatuation with social media distracted strategists from the fact that most voters are still moved more by traditional media?
Over 1/3 of Americans are now on Facebook. A recent study found the Internet is now a more essential medium than TV. These are trends that researchers have seen emerging for a long time, and refusing to acknowledge it or call it an "infatuation" is a head-in-sand approach. New media impacts a campaign in fundamental ways just as TV and direct mail did when they emerged as political tactics. I'm the last to say new media is the be all and end all of a campaign -- it isn't. But it is a powerful new tool to reach influential audiences, and it needs to be approached strategically and respectfully.
Please pose a question for the next interviewee.
Of the three major campaign components -- communications, political, finance -- which benefits the most from a proactive new media plan?