Thursday, August 30, 2007

What's a blogger?

Blogger definitions range far and wide--wide enough, I'd posit, to make the term as useful as calling a writer a penner. Some of the most common definitions of a blogger:

Blogger, citizen investigative journalist.

Blogger, someone who participates in online discussions.

Blogger, someone who publishes recipes and tips online using a blog.

Blogger, someone who writes her own blog.

Blogger, someone who reads/comments on other people's blogs.

Blogger, online political activist.

From a campaign's perspective, any and all bloggers can be useful (or disastrous)--because they have an audience and a community. It's the campaign's job to figure out how much effort to invest in reaching these audiences through a particular blogger or blog--just as you determine where to allocate your advertising money. Are the readers of this blog in your district? Are they likely to influence voters in your district? Are they likely to donate time or money to the campaign? Are they likely to influence mainstream media in your district?

Many campaigns hire a blogger to do internet outreach; I'd contend that understanding blogging technology is the single least important qualification for a campaign blogger. It's far more important to understand PR and message delivery--since the campaign's blogger is, in many respects, the campaign's face on the web. It's pretty easy to learn the technology (see the explosion of blogs in recent months), but it's a bit harder to learn how to spin a campaign/candidate faux pas, how to create and maintain a relationship with voters and how to inspire blog readers to offline action. On the other hand, hiring a well-connected blogger can be a stroke of genius if your campaign plan focuses on influencing the influencers and the blogger's influencers overlap with your voters.

--Louella Pizzuti