Hillary Clinton's presidential nomination campaign: Then and Now

Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton kicked off her long-awaited second run for the White House on Sunday (April 12) with a vow to create equal opportunities for those recovering from tough economic times.

Mrs Clinton entered the nomination fray with a flurry of video, email and social media announcements that indicated she had learnt from her painful 2008 loss and would not take anything for granted this time.

Here's a look at how Mrs Clinton's campaign team is doing things differently:

Emphasis is on voters

When she lost the Democratic nominating battle to Mr Barack Obama in 2008, her campaign was heavily criticised for conveying a sense of arrogance and entitlement, and for being out of touch with the party's progressive wing.

This time, the video launching her campaign portrayed her as a warmer, more empathetic figure and laid the groundwork for a more populist economic agenda. Eight years ago, her launch message was "I'm in it to win." On Sunday, she shifted the attention to voters, declaring on her new website: "Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion."

Aides said her campaign schedule would feature plenty of smaller events where she can listen to voters. Her visit to Iowa, which holds the kickoff contest in the nominating process early in 2016, will be a "listening tour." It will include a roundtable discussion with students and educators on Tuesday and small-business owners on Wednesday. "I'm going to work my heart out to earn every single vote, because I know it's your time," Mrs Clinton said in her email to supporters.

Focus on economic issues

Mrs Clinton's campaign will be based around her plans to address economic inequality, aides said. In announcing her presidential bid in 2007, Mrs Clinton spoke to the camera alone while sitting on a couch and asked voters to join her later for a series of Web chats. This time, her video featured a mix of Americans talking about their futures and their economic troubles, along with images of her in listening mode and only a small snippet of her speaking.

Her announcements featured strong words, though with no specific policy proposals about the struggles of working Americans and the need for economic equality. "I'm getting ready to do something, too. I'm running for president," says Clinton. "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion - so you can do more than just get by - you can get ahead. And stay ahead. Because when families are strong, America is strong."

Portraying softer side of Clinton

In the lead up to the announcement, her campaign team had also sought to try and bring out the softer side of Mrs Clinton, emphasising her experiences as a mother and new grandmother. She released an epilogue to her 2014 memoir that was dominated by how she felt when her daughter Chelsea gave birth to Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky last September.

"When Chelsea was born, I was full of nerves... As a new grandmother, however, there is nothing but joy. It's probably the world's best job. You get all the happiness of doting on a tiny child as she begins exploring the world but without the responsibilities or anxieties of being a parent," she wrote.

While some analysts have agreed that pushing her softer side is a worthwhile strategy for a figure who has struggled to be relatable, it is not yet clear if the rebranding will work. 

Use of social media

Mrs Clinton's roll-out included a sophisticated use of social media, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube - a contrast to her last campaign that was seen as less adept than Mr Obama's at using technology to convey messages.

Her tweet announcing her candidacy notched almost 90,000 retweets by the end of the day on Sunday, her campaign video more than one million views on YouTube, and her Facebook campaign page almost 500,000 likes.

In a tweet on Sunday night, she said: "Road trip! Loaded the van and set off for IA." A campaign aide said Mrs Clinton left her home in Chappaqua, New York, for the drive to Iowa, where she will attend her first campaign events this week.

In the tweet from a stop in Pennsylvania, she wrote: "Met a great family when we stopped this afternoon. Many more to come."

Marissa Gluck, a director at marketing firm Huge, said: "It's less "me" and more "us", which I think is very smart." Josh Cook, a former Obama digital director and vice-president of consulting firm BerlinRosen, said "that's a really 'big difference in tone, ego and professionalism compared to rollout videos from Rand Paul and (Ted) Cruz," referring to the Republican presidential hopefuls.

Engaging the media

Mrs Clinton's campaign team held an off-the-record dinner on April 9 in Washington D.C., for about two dozen journalists and staff members at the home of campaign manager John Podesta, Huffington Post reported, citing sources. Mrs Clinton did not attend the dinner but several of her key staffers, including Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri and Strategic Communications Adviser Karen Finney were there.

The dinner signals that the Clinton team is looking to change course from the toxic relationship with the media that plagued the 2008 race, said Huffington Post.

Clinton has long had a fraught relationship with the media, going back to scandals and controversies during her husband Bill Clinton's presidency in the 1990s, said the report.

But in recent months, Clinton sources said the 2016 campaign would be different. She took questions from the media for about 15 minutes last month following revelations that she exclusively used a private email account for government business throughout her four years as secretary of state. During a journalism awards ceremony late last month, Mrs Clinton suggested she wanted a fresh start with the media.

"I am all about new beginnings," she was quoted as saying. "A new grandchild, a new email account. Why not a new relationship with the press?"

SOURCES: REUTERS, AFP, HUFFINGTON POST