Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Can You Name Your U.S. Senators or House Rep? – Do Their Votes Represent You?

An Interview with PeepGov.com Co-Founder/President, Nick Secrest

Do you know the names of your state’s two U.S. Senators and your Congressional District House Representative? Do you know how they voted on the Healthcare Reform legislation or any other recent bills? Do they vote in a way on issues that represents how you would want them to vote on your behalf? Do they have a Facebook page or a Twitter account? What has been in the news about them recently?

A new website makes it possible to get a complete, real-time view of those representing you in Washington D.C. easily and quickly in one place – PeepGov.com. If you know your zip code, you have all the information you need to get connected to your specific U.S. Congressional District House Representative and to your U.S. Senators.

PeepGov is truly an innovation in politics. It is a unique political website. This is quite an accomplishment in today’s world of millions of websites and countless political ones. PeepGov identifies your Washington D.C. politicians and provides links to them including to their official political website, Facebook page, and Twitter page.

It provides information links to their recent votes on bills, news articles about them, and blog posts about them. The information is updated in real-time including their tweets. It is a creative and effective one-stop political education for the informed constituent.

Most importantly, PeepGov is a time-saver for the busy upcoming mid-term election voters. We are all reminded by political events almost daily it seems that elections have consequences. There is a lot of renewed interest in politics and making your vote count these days.

An Interview with PeepGov Co-Founder and President, Nick Secrest.

BKH: What was your "light bulb" moment for PeepGov?
NS: I was flying back to Chicago from Washington D.C. on a work trip and just happened to sit next to a congressman the day the Tarp Bill was signed. Our conversation inspired me to go home and look up who my congress person was. It took me a very long time to figure it out. So, my light bulb moment was when I said to myself, "There needs to be one place where you can go to learn about what your representatives are doing, saying, and what people are saying about them." I got a couple of my friends from college together that are Computer Science majors. We put our ideas together, and PeepGov was born.

BKH: How long did it take you to develop the idea?
NS: From idea to launch was a little over a year and a half.

BKH: What are your ultimate goals for PeepGov?
NS: We want to be the one place that everyone comes to for all news on who represents them in government from the national level to the state and local level.

BKH: Do you find voters under 30 are more interested in politics and policy these days?
NS: I feel the over 30 crowd is more interested in politics and policy these days, but I believe that as the country’s political volatility continues to increase; it will be impossible for the under 30 crowd not to become more interested in politics.

BKH: Who is the target market for PeepGov?
NS: Anyone whom can vote and political junkies. It doesn't matter whether you are new to politics or if you follow politics daily. The site is very simple. It allows everyone to really understand how their voice is being represented in Washington and what your fellow citizen thinks about how your congress person is doing.

BKH: What has been the initial reaction of voters in general?
NS: It is very positive. Everyone seems to really like how we show information in real time. Also, people really like that we aggregate all of the information on their representatives in one place. This allows them to stop spending time searching. They do not have to anymore.

BKH: What has been the initial reaction of members of Congress?
NS: It is new enough that we do not have a lot of input yet. We do not really know at this point.

BKH: I would guess political candidates for the House and Senate would love to be included on PeepGov.com. Do you have plans to expand in this way?
NS: Absolutely! The Joel Pollak Illinois 9th District campaign is currently using PeepGov as a tool for people to learn about Mr. Pollak and his views on issues compared to his incumbent challenger Jan Schakowsky.

BKH: Do you have plans to expand to include political organizations?
NS: We feel this is possible to expand into for PeepGov.

BKH: Do you have plans to expand to include state and local politicians?
NS: Yes. I do not know when yet, but hopefully we will be expanding down to the local level soon.

BKH: It's interesting that you include bloggers on the site. What is the criterion for a blogger to be included?
NS: Right now it is anyone writing political articles on the Internet.

BKH: Who are the top three politicians that have consistently had the highest peepscore since the site went live?
NS: Senate Majority Leader, Nevada Senator Harry Reid was quite high for awhile. West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd has stayed in the top 3 since he passed away a couple of weeks ago. Arizona Senator John McCain has also been in the top peepscore. The best part about the site is it really highlights whom is really being talked about at the moment in real-time. Joe Sestak was high through his Democratic senate primary battle with Arlen Specter.

BKH: What are the top three states that have consistently had the highest activity?
NS: Again, this goes back to what or whom are being talked about at that moment. Arizona has really had a lot of political figures being talked about recently due to the immigration issues. The congress members in the gulf states are usually being talked about because of the oil spill. Usually states and congressmen and women in states that are having primaries tend to really jump up in activity as well. One example was Congressman Gresham Barrett in his campaign for South Carolina Governor. South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn had a lot to say about Alvin Green’s South Carolina Democratic senate primary win. People had a lot of say about it as well.

BKH: What do you hope site visitors take away from PeepGov?
NS: I hope visitors find that PeepGov can bring them all the information they need to discover how their voice is being represented in Washington D.C. I want it to be easy for them to follow how they are being represented. Also, I hope that if a person comes to the site and sees that their congress person is not being talked about; I hope it encourages them to start talking about that person through all of the great social platforms on the Internet.

BKH: Thanks Nick.

PeepGov continues to build on their brand, product, and technology. They are in the process of opening up the company for outside investment for the first time in the history of the company. Mr. Secrest acknowledges it is the perfect timing for complimentary development, and their research indicates several exciting avenues for meaningful expansion.

Kathy Graham, a 68 year young retiree, and a PeepGov avid user notes, “Anyone who likes to follow politics should go here. You find more information about your representative at PeepGov than you will ever see in your local paper. They bring information about your representatives to you from outside your local district also.”

Joel Pollak, a U.S. congressional candidate for IL-9 finds unique elements of PeepGov to like from the politician’s perspective, “It is a useful, one-stop website destination where we can track Internet leads we might not otherwise find. It’s a way to make sure everyone in the campaign is on the same page regarding what we are saying and what is being said about us. As a new media tool, it's very effective."

The bottom line is “knowledge is power”. People are busy, yet voters are highly engaged and watching their Washington D.C. representation closely in preparation for the mid-term election in November. Everyone is talking and thinking politics it seems. PeepGov is fast becoming a new, comprehensive, and must have time saving tool for voters and politicians alike.

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