Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Should politicians blog? You're asking the wrong question.

The right question is, "should politicians publicize what they're doing?" (Let's assume we're talking about elected officials who honor the public trust.) The answer to that question, I hope you'll agree, is a resounding yes!

So then it's just a matter of deciding how you deliver the message.

Press releases?
Definitely! But sending them to press outlets puts you at the mercy of the publication--if they don't print, your constituents don't know. At the very least, take this material and publish it on your blog as well.

Direct mail?
Possibly. Direct mail's expensive and disposable recyclable, but maybe you have a compelling need to get things directly to the homes of your constituents. You'll still want to make it available on your web site or on your blog for people who discarded your letter without reading it and for anyone who's just curious.

Of course! No distribution costs and a permanent, searchable archive of your accomplishments. And if you do it right, news outlets will learn to come to your site to get information and background for stories they're writing. How much is that worth to you and your future campaigns?

--Louella Pizzuti


Anonymous said...

Tell me what your opinions are about allowing comments back to our candidate blog posts and registering users to the blogs versus anonymous postings. We are going to screen then not for dissent but for offensive content. (site: www.markeyforcongress.com )

Louella Pizzuti said...

There are lots of things to consider when deciding whether or not to allow comments (or even to have a blog.) I've touched on a few here. Most importantly, whether or not you should allow/moderate comments depends upon the goal(s) of your blog.

Are you allocating resources to read and respond to comments? If not, I recommend against allowing comments. Allowing comments suggests the campaign/candidate is actually interested in what the commenters have to say; if you can't afford the time to listen, it's best not to try to look like you are.

In general, I support moderating comments (for appropriateness but not agreement as you said), and allowing folks to post anonymously if they choose. But I'm a big advocate of small-d democracy and small-d democracy is not always in a candidate's/campaign's best interest. If you allow comments and don't screen for dissent, you are almost certain to get comments from people who've already decided to vote for your opponent (whether they disclose that or not). If you allow comments and don't allow dissent, you will get derided by blogs that follow politics in your area.

Are you blogging to build a community? Then comments are a definite yes. And so is the need for resources to read/respond/engage. You'll also want to consider whether you plan to engage your blog community in face-to-face outreach or whether you're content to allocate resources to give your supporters a place to chat with each other online.