Latest updates from the Veracity team

What Time Does the State of the Union Address Start?

January 11, 2016


President Obama’s final State of the Union address airs Tuesday at 9:00pm ET on the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS), as well as the main cable broadcasters: CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Amazon, Youtube, and the White House will also offer live streams of #SOTU2016, and NPR will broadcast it to radio listeners.

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Why do you need a blog post about the SOTU?

It’s a simple enough answer, so why bother to write about it? The answer is search engine optimization (SEO), which Google itself defines as:

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noun: the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

 

Another question: What time does the 'Superbowl' start?

In 2011, a Huffington Post editor named Craig Kanalley noticed a spike in search traffic around queries like “superbowl time” and had a stroke of genius. He published a simple article with a simple title: “What Time Does the Superbowl Start?” The post immediately landed prime real estate at the top of Google’s search results for Super Bowl XLV-related queries.

The digital world took note of what Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky called “the most legendary act of SEO trolling ever.” In no time, publications ranging from Gawker to the Los Angeles Times began to copy the “What Time Does the Superbowl Start?” (WTDSS) technique. Eventually, Google took charge, supplanting WTDSS articles with its own instant results.

 

 

Nevertheless, WTDSS is still alive and well. Today, enterprising digital journalists can still score a top Google search result placement, such as the re/code piece pictured above, if they play their algorithmic cards right.

 

What’s that have to do with the State of the Union? 

In case you hadn’t noticed, this blog is a WTDSS post. Like Craig Kanalley circa 2011, we were monitoring Google Trends this morning and noticed a spike in search traffic around “President Obama’s final State of the Union Address.” The SOTU 2016 SEO battle is already being fought, so why not throw our hat in the ring?

Currently, WhiteHouse.gov occupies most of the top spots under Google’s instant results, including one for its own WTDSS blog post (from last year).

 

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However, a few websites were able to beat the President of the United States at the SEO game.

 

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Let’s take a look at Politico’s State of the Union 2016 WTDSS post shown above and break down a few of the factors contributing to its top spot:

 

1. SEO-friendly language 

The first sentence of the article: “When and what time is Obama delivering the 2016 State of the Union?” might sound a bit awkward, but its strange construction accounts for the two different ways to inquire about the timing of the State of the Union: “When is the State of the Union?” and “What time is the State of the Union?” 

Indeed, the addition of “what time” may have made all the difference. A quick Ctrl-F of https://www.whitehouse.gov/sotu reveals 0 results for the phrase “what time,” and it just so happens that Politico’s SEO victory came on the query “what time is state of the union.”

 

2. Links, Links, and more Links

The article contains 27 links to relevant pages, such as whitehouse.gov, news articles from other publications, and other Politico stories – one aspect of an SEO process called “link-building.” More on that here.

 

3. Social Traffic 

As of publication, Politico’s “Everything you need to know about the 2016 State of the Union address” article had been shared on social media over 200 times. Because of Google’s recent Twitter indexing upgrade, Politico’s tweets are included in Google search results. In a similar fashion as link building, @Politico’s social marketing likely gives the article an SEO boost.

 

4. All the Right Keywords

The article is also full of keywords that could be included in a potential searches about the State of the Union address, such as “President Obama,” “SOTU,” “guests,” and “Michelle Obama.”

 

5. The Elephant in the Room

Of course, Politico is a major news outlet with a well-tagged, deeply-linked website, which almost certainly contributes to its top Google result. Nevertheless, the principles of SEO are just as important, if not more so, for smaller businesses, campaigns, and non-profits. The battle for a top Google search result is fought every time person searches for something, and you can’t win if you don’t play.

 

SEO and you.

The moral of the “What Time Does the Superbowl Start?” story is that SEO matters.

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to search engine optimization, SEO is too important to ignore. As we say at Veracity Media, a well-executed SEO strategy is a behind-the-scenes PR campaign that pays off in dominating search results. At Veracity, we take a digital-first approach to make sure our clients can grow both online and off, and we make SEO an integral part of our work.

Like what you’re reading and want to learn more? Use the form below to get in touch, and one of Veracity Media’s digital strategy experts will be in touch!


Wyatt-web.jpgWyatt Larkin joins Veracity Media from Capitol Hill, where he served as Digital Director for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Wyatt also ran digital for Kyrsten Sinema for Congress, and has led digital trainings for organizations including the Alliance for Retired Americans and College Democrats of America. Previously, Wyatt served as Chief of Staff and Communications Director for Johns Hopkins economist Steve Hanke, where he worked to make @Steve_Hanke one of the top economists on Twitter. Wyatt is an Arizona native who has organized for the Young Democrats of America, the Young Democrats of Arizona, and various state and local campaigns. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Political Science.


Something Substantive is Happening at Veracity

December 10, 2015


Veracity Media has created a new Premium website theme: Substance. Built and designed by our very own Clara Beyer and Mike Brophy, Substance is something we at Veracity are very excited about! I had the opportunity to speak to Veracity’s Creative Director, Mike Brophy, about what it was like to design Substance and what he finds most important and fun about it.

 

Something Substantive is Happening at Veracity

  

Mike explains that Substance is, “A really solid, fully thought-out, strong theme for the clients we have.” Substance is built around a Material Design model, created by Google in 2014. “The whole theme is based on Material Design,” Mike said. “Even the name--Substance--is a play on that.”

Material design in itself is an exciting new development in UI design, and is a direct response to the reigning Flat Design model, which rejects any display of depth in a digital platform. Material design, “addresses that a 2-D screen can still have depth,” and it displays this depth in a familiar, logical way. Mike stresses, “It is a very clean way to present content. It’s minimal without being overly simplistic.”

When asked what he liked most about Substance, Mike responded, “It is beautifully responsive. It looks good on any device at any width.” This is so important when trying to reach people on multiple digital platforms. Mike is also really proud of the animation he and Clara Beyer, lead developer of the theme, were able to incorporate, like the wave animation that takes place when you click a button.

Mike went on to say, “One of the great things about Material Design is the color pallet. The colors are bright, eye-catching, and engaging. There’s a lot of opportunity for high resolution imagery to shine.” Mike is also excited about the text fields in Substance. The fact that labels do not disappear when one clicks on a text field eliminates a lot of potential for confusion and missed opportunities, when many of us are often at least somewhat distracted when surfing the web.

Substance is the newest Veracity Media innovation. We are proud of Mike and Clara for creating such an effective and beautiful theme. And we can’t wait to put it to good use!

Check Out Substance Today!


Teddy-web-sq.jpgTheodora (Teddy) Alexander is currently a senior at the University of California Santa Cruz, studying international foreign policy and interning with Veracity Media for the fall. Her major field of study is Sociology, and she is interested in learning how technology can be used to enhance social justice. She has previously worked as a program assistant in transformative after-school programs, and has interned with Unite HERE!, a hospitality workers’ labor union. Teddy is excited to learn about the world of digital campaigns, and is prepared to contribute a fresh perspective to the team.


Things Are Changing, Have You Noticed?

November 09, 2015


Facebook and Twitter are switching things up. Over the past couple of weeks, both social media giants have made some pretty interesting tweaks to their platforms. Here’s a rundown of three of the most important changes you might not have noticed.

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 Twitter Polls

Twitter has recently unveiled its newest feature, Twitter Polls. Users will now be able to poll their followers with two-choice questions directly embedded into a tweet.  “It’s a new way to engage with Twitter’s massive audience and understand exactly what people think,” Twitter product developer Todd Sherman writes. The poll will remain live for 24 hours, and votes will be completely anonymous. Finally, you can figure out what your followers really think about your new haircut.

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Facebook Search

Facebook has made some tweaks to its search function. In the past, search results would be delivered pre-divided into six categories: pages, people, events, groups, apps, or trending topics. Users would need to click through each of these individual tabs to get an overall picture of the search results. Now, the Facebook search will personalize results according to users’ interests and trending topics. Facebook search will now pull the most relevant content from each of the six tabs. This will allow users to see a quick overview of all the activity going on around a search term, without having to flip through separate tabs.

Twitter Likes

A star has fallen in the Twitter universe. No longer can users “favorite” a Tweet. Instead, the star “favorite” button has been replaced with a heart “like” button. Why the change? Twitter product manager Akarshan Kumar explains the switch is meant to clarify confusion common to new users. “The star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite. The heart, in contrast, is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones. The heart is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people.” The shift to “likes” puts Twitter’s terminology more in line with Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform.

If this is just too much change to handle, check out the Chrome extension FavForever. It allows users to partially restore the “favorite” feature to their accounts. But the extension will only work until Twitter fully transitions to the “heart” like. After that, the “favorite” will drift off into the digital ether of features-gone-by.


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Steven Kelly is currently a student in the University Honors Program at The George Washington University. He is pursuing a degree in Communication and is interested in exploring how companies build personal relationships with their customers over the internet. He is active in several student theater groups at the University. Originally from Newton, Massachusetts, he is excited to be living in Washington and working at Veracity.


Addressing the Lack of Diversity in the Tech Industry

November 02, 2015


Today, the tech industry is booming! Not only is the technology we use becoming more advanced and accessible, but jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields are becoming increasingly more popular and more well-paid. And yet, as the industry booms, many sources warn that there are shortages in the STEM labor pool--that there may be close to 1,000,000 unfilled positions in tech from now until 2020. There is another big problem with this growth that needs to be addressed. The majority of people succeeding in these fields are White and Asian males. The groups of people who are being left out of this success are largely women and people of color.

 

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Although the proportion of Black and Latino students graduating with computer science degrees is small (roughly 9%), the numbers of Blacks and Latinos being hired in the tech industry is far smaller (roughly 5%). So, there is an abundance of tech work, and yet people of color who are qualified to fill these positions are not being hired. Why is this lack of diversity in the tech industry a problem? It’s a problem, because specific groups of already marginalized peoples are without access to some of the most highly-paid and relevant jobs, diverse user-bases for technology are not being represented by those building said technology, and ultimately, because this is a sign of a larger problem--cultural and structural racism and sexism.

This is a big problem that is not going to be “fixed” overnight. However, some large tech companies, such as Pinterest, have taken strides toward increasing transparency with their demographic hiring statistics, and are making efforts to increase diversity in their hiring practices. Perhaps more importantly, there are many groups actively working to change this reality as well, empowering women and people of color to gain the skills necessary to be competitive in an industry that does not welcome them with open arms. These are groups like Girls Who Code, and The Hidden Genius Project. Another important and innovative group is Telegraph Academy.

Telegraph Academy is an intensive 12-week bootcamp intended to turn aspiring “techies” into full-fledged software engineers. It is built in partnership with Hack Reactor, a well-established programming bootcamp in San Francisco. What sets Telegraph Academy apart, however, is that it is designed and operated specifically for people of color. Albrey Brown, a young black man and graduate of the Hack Reactor intensive bootcamp (2014) developed the idea for Telegraph Academy after graduating from the Hack Reactor program. Seeing the real benefits of the program, he was able to develop valuable skills to increase his pay-grade and do what he deemed to be important work.  Albrey started talking with others about the value of his experience, trying to convince them to go through the Hack reactor program as well. He found that many people of color did not take him seriously, that they could not imagine themselves filling the role of “software engineer.” Albrey says this is due to a lack of, “exposure, education, opportunities, and role models.” Albrey, a naturally-inclined educator, decided it was time people of color stop missing out on these opportunities. So after working with Hack Reactor for 6 months, he brought the idea to its founders to create a boot camp specifically geared toward people of color. They jumped at the idea.

Telegraph Academy, operating since March 2015, offers its students multiple ways to finance their bootcamp, and transforms adults of color into viable software engineers, ready to enter into the tech industry and get the jobs they deserve. It is people like Albrey and groups like Telegraph Academy that are working to change the current reality of the tech industry, making it more diverse and inclusive. There is still a long way to go, and the struggle must be a comprehensive one.  But groups like Telegraph Academy make it possible to imagine positive change on the horizon.


Teddy-web-sq.jpgTheodora (Teddy) Alexander is currently a senior at the University of California Santa Cruz, studying international foreign policy and interning with Veracity Media for the fall. Her major field of study is Sociology, and she is interested in learning how technology can be used to enhance social justice. She has previously worked as a program assistant in transformative after-school programs, and has interned with Unite HERE!, a hospitality workers’ labor union. Teddy is excited to learn about the world of digital campaigns, and is prepared to contribute a fresh perspective to the team.


Connect The World

October 09, 2015


Bono and Mark Zuckerberg have created an army of Internet missionaries, and this campaign to #ConnectTheWorld has some serious clout. By signing The Connectivity Declaration stated here, industry leaders and humanitarians proclaim that Internet access is a basic human right and should be available to everyone. As part of a larger UN effort to end poverty across the globe called #GlobalGoals, the Declaration sets 2020 as a realistic target date when everyone on earth will have Internet access. 

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That goal may seem optimistic when, according to the Washington Post, today 4.4 billion people do not have Internet access, but this movement is backed by people who have made a name for themselves by doing the impossible. People like Bill Gates and Richard Branson can be found here among the 58 individuals and organizations who have pledged their efforts to completing this monumental task in the next five years.

Companies like Facebook and Google have already begun the race to bring Internet to the 4.4 billion lacking access, but not without an ulterior motive. Google and Facebook are under pressure to expand their user-base, and a country like India, with 1.2 billion inhabitants, is a new-user goldmine. Both companies are experimenting with drones, satellites, and balloons that can beam signals through the stratosphere to connect new users, as well as some more down to earth projects. Google’s efforts to install fiber optic networks across Indian railway stations and Facebook’s Free Basics app which brings users a watered down Internet experience, are evidence that immediate results are very appealing to the two companies.

Both companies have come under fire by Net-Neutrality advocates that claim they are attempting to corner a market that hasn’t had a chance to emerge yet. Facebook has responded to concerns by opening their Free Basics platform to any website, provided they apply first. Although these challengers may present some noteworthy points, the effort to spread Internet access around the world is a top priority for both companies. It is naïve to believe that corporations act purely from a humanitarian position, but the positive results from their efforts shouldn’t be overlooked due to the motive behind it.

If the efforts from these two tech-giants is any indication of the determination to #ConnectTheWorld, I believe 2020 is a pretty reasonable goal. These efforts should not be vilified simply because they elicit a positive result for the companies. Whether it be from The Connectivity Declaration, the efforts of a company in search of new markets, Internet access for everyone is something that is worth working towards.


Colin is a currently a senior at the University of Maryland studying Government and Politics. He is interested in United States foreign policy and hopes to work as a Foreign Service Officer. Throughout his time in school, Colin was able to work for the NFA and Congressman Steny Hoyer. Colin is excited to learn more about digital media strategy with Veracity. Being a purebred Marylander, Colin knows he is lucky to live in America’s greatest state. Although his love for Maryland runs deep, after graduation he plans to leave home and teach English abroad.


Calling Attention to Free College Tuition: “Thanks a latte, Starbucks!” Campaign

September 23, 2015


This May, the Campaign for Free College Tuition noticed something unusual. A Facebook post published on May 1st had, after only 24 hours, gotten 62 shares and over 200 likes. This immediate and enthusiastic response was in reaction to the news that Starbucks would cover four years of free tuition for its employees at Arizona State University Online. The news had clearly struck a chord with the CFCT community.

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Veracity decided to build off this strong organic response by creating some followup graphics to help spread the news about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. The goal was to spotlight the progress being made in the movement for free college, and engage the CFCT online community with a story they were clearly passionate about.

The followup graphics were a smashing success. Seeing the post with a small amount of ad money on Facebook, the posts then reached a total of 46,021 people, nearly a twelve-fold increase in reach compared to the week before. They were also “liked” by over 1,000 people. And on top of all that attention, Starbucks retweeted one of CFCT’s graphics! Hard to believe it all started from just one post!

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Steven Kelly

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Steven Kelly is currently a student in the University Honors Program at The George Washington University. He is pursuing a degree in Communication and is interested in exploring how companies build personal relationships with their customers over the internet. He is active in several student theater groups at the University. Originally from Newton, Massachusetts, he is excited to be living in Washington and working at Veracity.

 


Veracity Media Goes to New York City!

September 03, 2015


This month, Alex Torpey and Aaron Straus Garcia are launching the company’s newest venture: Veracity Media NYC.

 

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Both Alex and Aaron have deep ties to the city that not only doesn’t sleep, but is also home to the most creative and innovative minds in the civic, technology and leadership space. They will be working to leverage their experience, networks and distinct areas of expertise to develop and grow Veracity Media’s already robust service offering.

Alex and Aaron are focusing primarily on building strategic partnerships with organizations working in governance, leadership development, community development, economic development and policy advocacy. Veracity Media’s NYC team will help organizations, governments and people conceptualize long-term vision and goals of major social, political and economic impact, and help think through and implement the right processes that help them reach those goals.

Veracity Media’s NYC team is fully integrated with the existing Washington, DC digital-first team under the leadership of Ryan Morgan, offering the same quality and technically advanced digital strategy services that clients have become accustomed to.

Over the last several years, Veracity Media has built upon the company’s initial grassroots organizing expertise and experience to develop one of the most cutting-edge digital teams in the political and nonprofit space, now based in Washington, DC. Custom web applications, creative and effective project management structures and repositories of tested assets allow a talented team of creatives, designers, developers and strategists help craft effective messaging, outreach, organizing and online media plans.

In New York, Alex and Aaron will help drive thinking on governance, leadership and development through client work, thought leadership and knowledge building across sectors and in academic and research settings. Additionally through Rethink Leadership, Veracity’s NYC team will continue to network and support young leaders and nonpartisan leadership development directly in the civic space.

Other NYC reads:

 


Twitter and SEO

August 27, 2015


Google and Twitter are partnering up to put tweets in search results. That's a huge update, and it's going to change the way organizations with active Twitter accounts are viewed online.

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What This Looks Like:

Recent tweets from an organization will be posted at the top of the search engine's results. A well-updated Twitter account is going to mean you have an opportunity to get in front of even more people, more quickly.

This follows the trend of more and more tweets being indexed in Google, and the lines between social and search becoming grayer and grayer. When an organization tweets something in a consistent and timely fashion, they will be much, much more likely to have their results appear at the top of their search engine results.

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Just to make sure we don't make the entire blog screenshots from Google, here's another desktop search example, and here's a mobile screenshot example.

Are All Tweets Indexed by Google?

Basically, no. However, a July, 2015 study by Stone Temple claims that Google's indexing 466% more tweets than it used to, but still ignores 96% of all tweets.

Another way to look at that data is to realize that popular tweets now get even more popular. If your organization's Twitter account is active and has a high amount of social authority (a metric created by FollowerWonk), you will be more likely to appear in search results.

What Can You Do To Get This Feature on Google Search?

Invest in content creation, stay diligent, and be prepared to commit to a long term strategy. Success in social media is more than posting content - it's about staying timely and relevant, and keeping on top of shifting trends (for example, the topic of this blog).

A strong, well-oiled search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is just as important. If your organization's name and strongest keywords aren't appearing on the first page of Google, it's almost a moot point to worry about getting tweets to appear.

Maintaining both social and SEO will pay off in the future for your organization's brand. Building digital relevance and clout will only serve to benefit your long term goals, and will only help your digital goals.

Read More:


The Power of Purpose & the National Progress Summit

July 30, 2015


This past month I had the opportunity to represent Veracity Media at the Generation Progress annual National Progress Summit. The conference was an incredible gathering of progressive organizations and millennial leaders--over 1,000 participants and dozens of organizations from across the country mobilized to discuss a progressive agenda to better our country.

Speakers included Vice President Joe Biden, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, and dozens of other public officials, progressive leaders, and experts. The plenaries were energizing and the breakout sessions were engaging. Overall, the entire conference was empowering and inspiring. The opportunity to hear so many successful leaders tell me “yes you can” make a difference and change the world left me itching to take action on the issues important to me.  

The speakers challenged the status quo and honed in on a message of millennial engagement and empowerment. The questions scrutinized at the summit were fascinating and important. What does activism mean in the social media era? How can millennials in the modern age put our values and principles into action.

While I learned a lot at the summit, I also realized that my past three months at Veracity Media have already provided me with the answers to some of the most important questions. More importantly, it has given me the opportunity to tackle these very issues. Improving the country on a national level was not some faraway dream for me, but something I spent the last three months of my summer doing here as a digital strategy assistant.

Veracity Media is a social-impact digital strategy firm that works to advance the vision of a more open, transparent, just, and active world. In short, we put purpose before everything else. Every project that Veracity takes on and every client that we work with is for one purpose: to move our country forward. And, as a member of the Veracity team, I have been doing that every single day.

I’ve contributed to political candidates devoted to protecting our environment and achieving gender equality; I’ve broadened the base of an organization trying to secure access to affordable higher education; and I’ve supported military families, helped to train the leaders of tomorrow, worked towards criminal justice reform, and so many other worthwhile causes. 

As inspiring as the Progress Summit was, I think what really moved me was looking back at my time at Veracity Media. The Progress Summit addressed millennial engagement, gender equality, environmental justice, and taking action to make the world a better place. At first, I couldn’t wait to enter “the real world” and tackle these issues. Then, I realized I had been doing that all along.


Zachary Schaffer

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Zachary Schaffer is currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a degree in political science and communication/rhetoric, with a certificate in corporate/community relations. Prior to joining the Veracity team, he interned at The Israel Project in Washington D.C. and the Jerusalem Post in Israel. At Pitt, he serves as a Public Speaking Coach for the Department of Communication, President of his fraternity Beta Theta Pi, and President of the Hillel Jewish Student Union. He is excited to be spending his summer in D.C. utilizing digital strategy to further worthwhile causes, and he hopes to draw on his experience at Veracity Media for a future career in communication or politics.

 

“This is beyond business with a purpose. This is a new paradigm for social change.”


Introducing: Builder

July 14, 2015


What is Builder?

Builder does one thing: builds websites on NationBuilder. The tool is loaded with pre-built website components, along with a toolkit that lets us customize the look of the site, and the ability to export your site to NationBuilder. Veracity Media can build you a custom website with your organization's logo, color scheme, and font -- in days, not weeks.

Builder's components are action-oriented, working hand in hand with NationBuilder's unique tools to encourage your users to get involved with your organization. Our organizers will work with you to develop a design that speaks directly to your target audience's needs. Using Builder, the turnaround between wireframe and fully functioning website is shorter than ever before. Builder combines the speed and simplicity of a pre-made theme with the customization options of a bespoke website, and it's only available from Veracity Media.

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Use Case: Iron NationBuilder

The first iteration of Builder premiered at Iron NationBuilder, a 45 minute website building competition using House of Cards as a subject.

Using Builder, Ryan Morgan, Veracity's CEO, was able to put together a fully functional, mobile responsive, and engaging campaign website within the 45 minute time limit. If we can build a site for Frank Underwood in less than an hour, imagine what we can do for your organization.

 

Check out the site here!

 

What does it mean for your organization?

If you need a campaign website for your candidate yesterday, or your non-profit is on a budget and you need a flashy, mobile responsive website, or your company needs to upgrade its outdated web presence: Builder is for you.

Interested in seeing what Builder can do for your campaign, organization, or business?

 

Click here to learn more!


Let Veracity help you engage, activate, inform, and inspire your community.

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