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October 1, 2006

google Calendar - terrific for anything less than Senate campaigns

Posted by Sanford Dickert | Discussion: 0 Comments

One of the greatest challenges I have ever see a campaign face has been the organization of a group of people around a single candidate. With every side of the campaign working hard to get the candidate exposure for press, fundraising or pressing-the-flesh, the team has a challenge to coordinate the times and energies.

When on the Kerry Campaign, the biggest flap we would often have is to use the Microsoft Exchange server so that each team could synchronize their calendars for scheduling. Not only was it a painful process at times, but the cost of maintaining so many Exchange accounts became prohibitive. Now, consider being a smaller campaign with less than 10 people - and no real IT person. What would you do?

google Calendar
In three of my recent campaigns, I have introduced the google Calendar with great success. As you can see from the screenshot, all groups of the campaign have their own calendar (which they can set permissions on who can see, who can modify, who can add, etcera) and they can be viewed in a single page with color differentiating the areas of the campaign. For this campaign, we needed to know where the candidate would be and where the rest of the staff would be. One person somewhat played the scheduler (though her job was more on communications) and she made sure everyone was aware of the calendar.

As a scheduler for one campaign, I watched this young lady spend hours painfully mapping out the event, using MapQuest to get directions and having to print out everything to enable the driver(s) to know where to go. With google Calendar, I found that you can have your calendar all written out on a PDF (click here for a shot) and even have your cell phone receive a text message some period of time before the event happens to alert you to your next event.

Granular to the individual event
And while security is paramount on the team, you can still invite other people outside your campaign sphere via the individual event management - which include eVite/RSVP-like functionality so that you can determine if all receive or respond to the event scheduled.

Do I recommend google Calendar? Absolutely! In each campaign, I found it heads and shoulders about the Microsoft Exchange solution - and it allowed for the schedule to be consistant across the campaign and understandable by all. And with google being so ubiquious, why not use the tools available. It's free, it's easy and it is fun to use. And it saved me a ton of money not having to buy Exchange licenses.

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