Hillwatch Inc.

Hillwatch Inc.

January 10, 2006 10:30 ET

Canadian Parties Not Seizing Full Potential of Web: Online Benchmark Shows Progress Since 2004 Election, But Opportunities Missed to Leverage Grassroots in Election Race

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 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.

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