The GOP’s newest challenge? Digital.

This fall marks EIGHT years of the Digital Challenge. Are you excited? We’re excited!

As she shares with Roll Call this week, House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) originally started the Digital Challenge in 2009 as a way to encourage representatives and their staff to think creatively and use technology and social media to connect with Americans.

“It was really to bring the Republicans into the 21st Century in our communications, and it was clear that more and more people were getting their information from these social media sites,” she said to Roll Call. “[It spoke to] the importance of us as policy members, representatives, engaging with the people that we represent using Facebook and Twitter and posting on YouTube.”

This annual digital showdown is just one part of what makes Conference, Conference.

If you’ve ever visited our office in Longworth (we’re down in B-245 — come by!), you know our walls feature bright colors and chalkboards and whiteboards like the one for brainstorming.

This is intentional. Inspired by Washington state tech titans like Amazon and Microsoft, Chair McMorris Rodgers revamped Conference to function as Congress’s first “startup.”

“I want to create a culture of innovation,” she said. “…and part of it is in communications, but it’s also policymaking.”

So, what’s this year’s Digital Challenge?!

“This year, the congresswoman is challenging all offices to drive traffic to a website promoting the GOP’s vision for a tax overhaul — — because ‘this is a once in a generation opportunity for tax reform,’ she said.

‘They can reach out to people, tell them about our hopes and dreams as it relates to tax reform and then to engage them moving beyond that,’ McMorris Rodgers added.

Each member of the House GOP conference has until Oct. 2 to drive traffic. The top three winners will be determined by who brings the most visits to the landing page…Her office has provided training sessions with representatives from Google Analytics to show other offices how to track user actions and how tracked links are vital to their efforts.”

House Republicans like a little competition…and steak knives

“The response from the conference has been ‘very positive,’ McMorris Rodgers said. ‘The members are anxious to dive into this debate on tax reform. Clearly, the members want to have this debate.’

And, there are prizes.

‘The first year I had kind of an off-the-wall idea to present steak knives as the third prize,’ she said. ‘In my mind, it was kind of the dud prize. Now, this has continued and it’s almost like the members want to come in third so they can [win] steak knives.’

Other prizes have included a GoPro camera, an in-office teleprompter set, and an Amazon gift card.

‘It’s fun, they pay attention and I think the members take pleasure in winning the Digital Challenge,’ McMorris Rodgers said.

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