30 August 2007

The problem with candidate blogs

Jeff Commaroto for Tech President and Election Geek:
Did you read the blog post on the candidate Web site where the blogger gushed over the candidate and outlined the talking points of the campaign? So did I, over and over and over again. I have to be honest, I follow a lot of blogs but I almost never read the blog sections of the candidate’s sites. I cannot imagine most of you do either.
He's right - I don't read "candidate blogs." (I do sometimes follow candidates on twitter.) That's because the current assumption of what blogs should be isn't a particularly strategic component of a political campaign. In an organization where message control is the ONLY communications priority, a "campaign blog" is really nothing more than "candidate went to event and was a big hit." That's a press release, not a blog post. I'm also assuming comments are screened to maintain consistency with the message. Frankly, I'm not convinced the campaigns should spend resources on something if it isn't strategic.

Unlike Jeff, however, I might be interested in a series of issues-based discussions. Maybe a surrogate blog if it were single-issue focused and there were several of them under one candidate's umbrella, and I could see a bunch of these single-issue posts in an RSS feed or something. I could explore one issue in-depth if I wanted.

I might also read a campaign blog if it became a clearinghouse of the candidate's journey with links to the places the candidate visited locally. There are a lot of 2.0 tools you could build around that, and you'd drive traffic and interest to local blogs and sites as you go through town. Local online people would remember that.

The problem with campaign blogs right now is they're locked into a one-dimentional assumption of what blogs CAN'T do - namely, go off message. They're just playing it safe; it's as if someone is just checking the box marked "write campaign blog." They're not being used as tools to broaden messages and invite new supporters the way they could be.

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