Candidates and Blogging

Same thing at Kos

As some of you may or may not know, I occupy a fairly unique position in the political world. Just like most of you I am obsessed by politics. I would estimate that in a normal week I spend 75 plus percent of my time involved in something political. This ranges from blogging to reading the newspaper to going to my classes in political science to lying in bed (is insomnia genetic?).

However, I said that I occupy a UNIQUE position from the rest of you. And I think that I do. I spend a large amount of time blogging, in between my real life activities. However, my real life activity is what seperates me. You see, when I log off I go to work, and when I go to work I stay in politics.

When people ask me what career I am going into when I graduate I have one answer. Campaigns. You see, I have only had one job in my entire life not connected to politics, and that was a temp job I only did for one month. I not only live and breathe politics, I wouldnt be able to eat without politics.

Consequently, I see most issues from both a campaign side and from a blog side.

I have therefore decided to write this two part diary. The first part will be for candidates. The second part for bloggers.

For Candidates:
First, who are bloggers?
Bloggers are partisan. When you think of blogs, think of your annual county Democratic convention. When you are talking to bloggers you are talking to researchers, volunteers, door knockers, donors and often, precinct chairs. Treat them accordingly.

Second, these are donors, but they arent.
A blog is not a place for you to copy and paste an email asking for money. Those that give money on blogs do so because they believe in a candidate. I mean really, really believe. These are people who read about a candidate 5 times and spend the next two weeks eating ramen noodles so they can throw a few bucks to someone they believe in.
Also, dont just use them as donors. The most effective and excited volunteers I have seen were those that gave between 5 and 20 dollars to a campaign. When someone cant give you a $2300 check ask them to help you out in other ways. Chances are the smaller amount of money they gave you the more willing they are to put in dozens of weekends working for you.

Third, and the most important, engage.
A blog is not a press release. Think of every blog you post as a town hall. You give a short 10 minute speech and spend 2 hours answering questions from the crowd. That is blogging. If you post something and run you will get a tiny amount of support for paying attention to blogs. If you engage you will get some of the most committed activists around on your side. An easy choice, no?

In the form of a much longer explination, blogs are a new and growing aspect of campaigns. These are not a bunch of people yelling at each other, or patting each other on the back. These are activists who want to know more. They are true believers who want to get involved. But they are much more than potential volunteers or donors, and you need to realize that or you will lose their respect. Many bloggers write letters to the editor once a week. Most bloggers can say that they have contacted an elected official in the last month about an issue. These people are involved in so many ways. Remember maccaca? That story had 10 chances to die in the first 2 weeks. And it had 100 chances to go away in the months following that. Bloggers kept it alive, and showed why it mattered. Engage them and they will find out, for free, things that your $10,000 research binder could only hope to hint at. Give them a reason to believe in you and your grassroots operation will be started for you. Ignore them and they will ignore you. Denigrate them and they will turn that microscope on you.

Additionally, dont be afraid of what you say. This is saved forever, but dont let that scare you. Most of what you say is saved forever. You are in politics. "Thems the rules." Dont say anything in a blog that you wouldnt say at a candidate forum or a campaign event and you will be fine.

Now for the Bloggers:
Candidates are real people.
They are not perfect. They are not you. They are, largely, luddites. Explain what blogging is to them. Give them leeway. Additionally, know that you will disagree with them, but also know that your opinions can shape theirs. The Southern Dem tells the story of how, when Larry Kissell first started running, his positions on some issues were not finalized. He was a millworker turned school teacher. No one expects him to know the details of every issue. But, bloggers talked to him, explained the issues to him in long conversations, and he developed his opinion. You can be an annoyance or a you can be a resource. I think you know how I would like you to choose.

Campaigns are huge.
In every campaign, there are a million different things going on, thousands of tasks to be completed, and hundreds of subgroups to talk to. I can not stress this enough. Even in a netroots powered campaign, blogs will only get so much time. Thankfully, you arent part of the campaign. Have a great idea? Research it and pass it on, either as a blog or as an email. Make yourself available. You cant be appeased all the time. But, no honest candidate can appease all of their supporters. State your position, but be understanding when the candidate doesnt change his postion.

Campaigns are compromises
I dont say that to mean that a candidate has to compromise their ideals to win. What I mean by this is that to get elected a campaign must get 50% +1. In most places, this means talking to people from a broad spectrum of ideas, and convincing them to believe in you. Sometimes that means a candidate who can win has moderate positions. Sometimes that means a candidate who is not moderate has to whisper instead of yell. Please understand that there are honest ways to tailor a message, and every campaign works very hard to both maintain their overall message and speak to the issues that the audience cares about. Its not lying, its not even leaving something out. It is talking about what people care about.
I give you another example from the Kissell campaign. I worked with a number of different people. One of my favorite door knockers was a guy who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004. He was an ex Air Force man, who absolutely loved everything about Larry. One of my most effective phone people was a woman who was incredibly liberal and proud of it. Both of these people believed in Larry, and his message, even though they had disagreements with one or two things. Without their compromise literally hundreds of people would have not heard about Larry.

Now to explain a little about "campaign professionals"
We are not some evil horde of people who live in DC and get rich telling Democrats to run as Republican Lites. We do not all fail upwards. Now there are many people like this. I wont say there arent. However, the vast majority of people who work in campaigns put in enough hours to kill weaker individuals. In every campaign I have ever been involved in, outside of small local races, 50 hours a week by the core staff is considered vacation. On the Kissell campaign there were days where I know that the only reason his campaign manager and communications director were sleeping was because they knew the next day was going to be another 12 to 18 hours worth of work. And they arent unique in the campaign world. To say that we care is an understatement.

In Conclusion
No one knows where blogs will be in a year. And no one can predict their impact on elections in 2008. Therefore, when you encounter candidates on blogs, invite them in. Explain what you do. Explain who you are. And tell them why they should join us in this new medium.

For the candidates lurking out there, jump in. Tell us what you think. Ask for our opinions. If you treat us as equals we will go to the ends of the earth for you. If you never show up, then we dont know anything more than what we read in the papers. And we all know how great the media is at giving the whole story.

Comments

Its a long rant

but I know we have more than one candidate or politician lurking, and I want them to know who we are.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

We need to quit being so similar

Luckily you didn't run for anything last spring ...

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

you and i both know

im the much more radical type. i dont know whether i would be first against the wall or first to man the barricades though.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Bloggers will really hurt the disingenuous

I think that's what really scares politicians. The more honest they are, the more they know the compromises they make (they've almost HAD to make) every single day. I think it makes them leery of the ability of a blogger to really dog them.

But, on the other hand, the more honest and relaxed they are, the more bloggers will forgive and make excuses for almost anything. I think a lot of politicians are so busy, they just don't have the time to figure out what's going on.

As recently as last year, all the consultants were telling their candidates not to waste any time on it. Next year is going to be fascinating!
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

i have heard

the line, "how many votes will a website win?" so many times its disgusting.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

I just tell them about the $75 K

raised for Kissell. (Leader of the pack, Southern Dem . . .)

They don't argue with me then.

And when some bloggers I won't name dis vlogging I try to tell them about how the Asheville Citizen-Times was forced to responded to outrage from the community spurred on by this video the campaign linked to in an email to their supporters.

I tell them how a few weeks before the election the only network affiliate in the entire district spent three minutes at the top of the 11 o'clock news covering WNCNN. Some of the video was serious stuff showing Heath at his very best. They showed the photo of Taylor's empty seat at a debate. And this was great: they showed our Taylor impersonator mumbling incoherently, Mad Miss Mattie talking about "insidious lies," and Johnnie Joe Rockslide talking about Taylor "being taken into custody today."

They showed only a few seconds of the Taylor stuff (which had zillions more hits!) The Taylor campaign was FURIOUS. How much money would a candidate pay to have their opponent's entire staff furious with the only TV station a few weeks before election day?

That's what I tell people.
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

I tell people

about the hundreds of thousands raised by Tester, Lamont and Webb.

And I tell them about the hundreds of volunteers who drove every weekend for hours at a time to help Lamont, Webb, Brown and others.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Speaking about blogs and candidates

Congrats to Edwards:
John Edwards 9,747 $1,003,145.67

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

What makes me laugh

is that you KNOW candidates are going to have to hire consultants to deal with blogs for them. But consultants are experts at getting hired. They're not necessarily experts at what they say they're going to do! AND, a blog is so personal. If the expert goes on line and makes the candidate look like an ass because they don't know what they're doing, they're impersonal or they're trying to fit in but they don't understand what they're doing. It's going to be HILARIOUS or sad . . . well, sad, if it's our guys screwing up.

Maybe I should start a consulting business. We all should. BlueNC & associates. ScruHoo & associates. PatGoByeBye & associates. NO!!! Drama Queen for Hire.
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Drama Queen for Hire

LOL ... perfect!

P.S. vlogging is anything BUT irrelevant. Remember the video camera v. George Allen.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Traditional consultants are not the only ones

Maybe you should start a consulting business. More and more bloggers contract out their services to help campaigns with their web presences. Perfect examples are Matt Gross, who contracted with the NC Dem Party and then Edwards, and Matt Bowers, who contracted with Brad Miller last year. More and more are making mooch off their new found skill of knowing the web.

On a side note, there is more to it than money. Sure, Dean kicked it all off and Edwards has realized the importance of the Dean model (I argue originally moreso to be the anti-Hillary than anything else) and has passed the million dollar mark on ActBlue, but full web integration that utilizes blogs, email lists, TAF and viral marketing functions and a host of other tools is able to not only increase their fundraising, but increase all facets of their campaigns. As more and more people tune into the 21st century, the more important this type of campaigning will become, and politicians and parties are starting to realize that. Just this week the NC Dem Party hired an full time online communications director and today you had the next Senator of North Carolina live blogging.

Drama Queen for hire indeed!

with things

like facebook, youtube and google calendar a campaign can function a heck of a lot better if they understand how to use the internet.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

A Must Read for Every Democratic Candidate

I agree with everything you stated in your post.

But hey, don't take my word for it - others agree with you as well.

See here:Politico

And here: Politico echoes others: bloggers=necessity for WH08 campaigns

I'll be sending a link to your post around the country - I hope others do, too.

Great Post

I regularly have the "candidates are people" conversation with bloggers. I also have the "campaigns are huge" and the "campaign staff aren't evil" conversations.

Bloggers expect candidates not to know what we are and what we do, but we can't hold that against them. When Rep. Jim Harrell, III came to the Blogger Meetup with the NCDP folks - he was clearly unused to being in a room full of folks who stared at their computers while he spoke. He handed out business cards that didn't have an email address on them.

However, he did what no one else did. He showed up, spoke honestly, and respected that which he did not understand. That's enough for we bloggers. Harrell is working on a ton of good legislation in Raleigh, and I'm behind him as I suspect most of those bloggers are.

DQ - I'm in for partner. Drama Queen for Hire is going to need a lackey. Can we call it Online Public Relations and Political Consultancy?

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

OPRPC???

That's an AWFUL name. We won't let you write headlines. But you're not my only offer. We'll talk. :-)

Hey, I did your partnership astrology with Syntax (I think you were in Hawaii) and you two are supposed to make a ton of money together. Me and you, Me and Syntax: not so much. So, can I join YOUR consulting firm?
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Gawd! I thought I was bad...

Blogs, Campaigns, and Candidates...

Blue South, great post!

Since the brouhaha over Edward's campaign bloggers, I've thought quite a bit about the place of bloggers in and out of campaigns. I have to say that I personally think these dedicated and vocal activists are much better for the cause outside a campaign. Being directly associated with a campaign restricts both the content and volume - and we need a LOUD counter-balance to the right wing noise machine.

Taking this a step farther, opposition research (digging up dirt) and posting interesting results and “spin” are a valuable service that can be performed by independent bloggers. The candidate can then highlight those items in the campaign. BTW, my opponent is Paul “Skip” Stam, the current NC House Minority Leader (hint, hint).

Blogs also provide a wide range of ideas and options for handling issues and situations. For example, in my last campaign, I received a large donation from someone who later made public comments that I felt were very racist. Initially, I was just going to return the donation. Discussions about the situation on various blogs (I was not the only candidate impacted) brought out a better solution: giving it a local cause that was fighting for minorities.

I once saw a limitation of candidate blogs - campaigns are about staying on message and repeating it over and over. That works well when going in-person from event to event and giving the same basic stump speech. However, the pressure to come up with new ways to say the same thing OR to address new topics to keep things interesting in writing to the SAME audience was why I went from a weekly email newsletter to a monthly one.

But as you stated and my friend Grier Martin’s live blog shows, using a blog as an interactive town hall rather than as a one-way candidate broadcast is the way to leverage a blog over other forms of communication.

Thanks again for a post with perspective that taught me something!

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

Ya mean "The Stam"

as in rhymes with

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Easy for you to say!

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

That's Okay -

We'll say it so you won't have to - :)

Exactly!

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

Spot on

He gets it, he really gets it. Seriously though, you were one of the people I had in mind writing this. I think that your concerns are definetly valid, and I think that there are ways to engage without getting in to deep.

For instance, blogging here can get you friends, research help, maybe some money or volunteers, but you probably wont get many votes. I dont know of anyone who is actually in your district and posts here. Doesnt mean you shouldnt blog, it just means that it has to be a different aspect of your campaign.

PS- Remember to eat, and hopefully to eat healthy while campaigning.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Getting it and eating right

Thanks, I did take this thread to heart.

I agree that blogging will reach only a few of the voters in this district - but as you've pointed out, it offers many other benefits.

And eating right is always hard, but I'm usually in better shape during the campaign - all that walking is great exercise.

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

why join a gym...

...when you can run for office?

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

My first rescue

Praise heaped! Descriptive superlatives invoked! Imperative imprecations to ingest! In other words,...read this diary! Candidates and Blogging by Blue South. (buhdydharma)

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

wow

Praise heaped by buhdydharma. Awesome! Are you smiling, Blue South? ;) You should be. This really is a great post!

I actually forwarded it to a Democratic candidate for House District 26 yesterday. He dropped in to talk with us at our precinct meeting on the 20th (a wonderful candidate, btw) and I asked him about an interview for BlueNC. He looked a little unfamiliar with what I was talking about. I expected that, but my attempt at further explanation sucked anyway.

Yours rocks ... so I sent him yours (linked). :) Hope you don't mind.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I dont mind

That was the idea of this post. I know that a lot of bloggers have questions about the inner workings of campaigns, and a lot of candidates have questions about who "those crazy people yelling" are.

I might start keeping track of candidates who read this though, post-rescue I picked up a guy running for local office who posts on kos.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Late in commenting

This is one of those posts that should be archived, bookmarked, and pointed to each time a new candidate pops up, either online or off. It's quite simply fantastic. Rock on, BlueSouth, Rock on.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

hopefully

by the end of 08 having been inside a campaign wont make me unique on bluenc.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Y'all need to chill on the praise

You don't know Cubby like I do. He's already full of himself and now we might even have to get him a crown or something to wear on his big old head at Working For Change's house on Sunday.

Oh, Hi!, Blue South. I didn't know you were paying attention. Love, love, love your work. Really, I do. See you and the pup on Sunday! :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

thats true

should i email you my hat size?

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

I decided on a tiara

to avoid the size complications. :)

You think I'm kidding, don't you?

Just wait.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Holy smokes

A tiara. I trust y'all WILL have cameras at the ready on the occassion of Blue South's crowing?

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

And crowning

:-p

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Cameras? Me without my camera?

We're having an organizing meeting for Meck. We might even have another BlueNCer there - Sam Spencer. One of us will report in.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Blue South, this does need to be read by as many

people (blogger and non-bloggers) as possible. Do you mind if I cut n paste some of it and link back the rest from my humble blog?

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

Fair use, so go ahead

I can answer for him. (but only on this)

I think Blue South wants the word out about bloggers/candidates and if you link back and give him credit I can guarantee he won't mind. If he does I'll just have to take back the tiara. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

dont mind a bit

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Great to see this flying through the tubes.

Very great.

I have written a summary and linked this

at my blog at the Pilot online. There was a window where I was both able to get in to post and actually read my blog today. Hopefully the Pilot will be paying more attention to their on-line site in the future.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions My Blog at The Pilot online.