Civic News

Meet the digital strategist behind the Democratic National Convention

With 50,000 visiting Dems and millions of online eyeballs, Kelli Klein has her work cut out for her.

Kelli Klein on the Art Museum steps.

(Courtesy photo)

Every four years, when its time to plan yet another Democratic National Convention, organizers have a wealth of logistics, transportation and lodging information to draw from. They pretty much have it down.
But if there’s one area where manuals quickly lose shelf life, it’s on the digital side of things. Just think of how much the world has changed since 2012: there was no such thing as a Snapchat filter, Uber was a novel concept and Pokémon Go was a total fantasy.
As Philly prepares to host 50,ooo Dems for four days, July 25-28, the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) is hoping to bring a few million extra eyeballs to the city through the power of digital communications. We spoke to DNCC Digital Director Kelli Klein, whose job it is to make that happen.
https://twitter.com/Kelli_jo_/status/753635631629303808
At the time of this interview, the big show is a week away. Borrowing a line from the movie The Ring, Klein says “seven days” is very much a buzzphrase at DNCC headquarters. As the date looms, the committee has its work cut out for it.
“Over the course of the four days, we’ll have 500 volunteer shifts working to make sure it’s the most engaging convention ever,” Klein said in a phone interview.
Klein, 28, is originally from Wisconsin. She moved to Philly three years ago, bringing along her background in political digital communications, including a four-month stint with Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
Since January, the misplaced cheesehead (she said it, not us) has been heading up the digital existence of the DNC alongside her two Deputy Directors: Olivia Chow and Heather Barmore.

Left to right: Olivia Chow, Kelli Klein and Heather Barmore. (Photo via Snapchat)

Left to right: Olivia Chow, Kelli Klein and Heather Barmore. (Photo via Snapchat)


We recently saw Klein lauding Curalate’s digital worth as the University City-based startup was announced as an official technology partner. But how does she feel about Philly overall?
“I’m excited that the convention is in Philly,” she said. “I moved here three years ago and never left. All we’ve heard from the community is a willingness to help and volunteer right now.”
It’s been Klein’s job to craft the strategy those 500 volunteers will be executing from a digital communications standpoint. Here’s a few key aspects of how the DNC plans to harness people’s attention in the digital realm during the four-day bash.

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  • Including as many perspectives as possible. Thanks to Snapchat’s “Official Stories” category, there will be several streams at once with themed images and video.
  • Real-time content. Surrogates, celebs and staffers will give backstage insight through Facebook Live streams.
  • Geotaggin’ it. No, there’s no Bernie Sanders–inspired Pokémon you can catch or anything, but there will be Snapchat filters for travelers coming into town from 30th Street Station or the Philadelphia International Airport.
  • Video-first website. “I am biased, but I think it’s beautiful,” Klein said about the convention’s site, in which video will be a central feature. It’s Chromecast-enabled.
  • Pick the right to Medium. Since there’s no time to wait for print, a lot of the written content for the convention will be shipped out through its official Medium channel.
  • Nabbing Twitter eggs. The DNCC partnered with Twitter to make sure those who sign up to the social network for the first time during the DNC can have instant access to content about the convention.

With the gaze of millions upon the city for the convention, Klein sees one major challenge with heading up the massive digital undertaking, and it’s one we can relate to:
“There will be so much content out there, that we’re just trying to make sure people get the best stuff.”

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