There are five types of new blogger
- those who know what they want to write
- those that are writing to promote their business
- those that are writing to promote a cause or raise an issue.
- those that want to write a blog, but don’t know what to write
- and people like me who like to write, but are unfocused.
In political circles blogging is now very important as a few bloggers have a lot of influence leading politicians, on issues, on getting matters raised in national press and in organising large and small campaigns. Bloggers can be very active on international, national and local issues.
Blogs are also very active in that they raise issues that are not published in newspapers. Leaks, rumours, the highlighting of shady practice and, unfortunately, smears are frequently announced on Twitter and then backed up by blogging posts. The blog is a useful tool on all sides of the political debate.
As an example the political blogger and rumour mill, Guido Fawkes, it’s one of the UK’s leading sources of dubious information about politicians. Resignations, scandals, leaked documents and opinion are often reported directly to this blog rather than directly to the newspapers. A whistle blower knows that sending information to this site is a more effective, and quicker, way of getting information out on something it directly to a newspaper, where it will have to be checked before publication.
The different roles of an issue blogger
There are a number of different and sometimes conflicting roles that a blogger, concerned with issues, must take. These include:
- encouraging existing supporters
- encouraging potential supporters to join the campaign
- raising awareness in general public
- providing information for the print media
- making a political case
- possibly trying to raise funds
Writing for different audiences
From the above list it is easy to see that writing for so many different audiences is going to be difficult. For example a campaign against nuclear energy as to explain the issues for the general public in simple terms. On the other hand the active supporters will probably know the difference between the different types of nuclear reactors and will properly know a lot of technical jargon.
Information for the journalists, on the other hand, must be structured in such a way that the individual journalist can easily write an article for their readers. Some journalists will just want the framework of the story while others will want to know how they can quickly contact someone for more details.
The evidence for a politician must make a case within the framework of politician is working. A sympathetic politician may have to argue the case within his own party before trying to raise the matter before Parliament.
Bloggers solve the problem
Most bloggers solve this problem by having different sections, (categories), on their blog. This is good as some people interested in their campaign may want to read the other sections of the blog before joining.
At the very least a campaign or issue blog should have a press section with good contact details. It goes without saying that journalists expect to be able to contact someone quickly.
A word of warning
Be aware, particularly if you live in the UK, that there is always a danger that you could be sued but defamation or libel. You should therefore think carefully before making a personal attack on a person or a business.
Some ways of protecting yourself are set up a company for the campaign. If the words are then written on behalf of the company and the company is sued then it would be easy to fold the company. (I am not a lawyer therefore check this out we have an expert before acting on it).
If the issue is very sensitive then you should consider setting up abroad. (Again I do not have the legal knowledge to advise you safely). I know the American First Amendment protects freedom of speech and there are a lot of countries and services that do help protect those wanting to present information that invested interests want to keep quiet. See for example wikileaks.
As I talk today I am very aware of the situation in Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. These spontaneous demonstrations in these countries have only been possible through the use of Twitter, Facebook and of course blogs.
Blogs have been important in the build up to these demonstrations. They, with Facebook, had built up the networks among mostly young people and have helped them become aware of the bad situation in their country and in helping people develop networks. Of course today mobile phones and Twitter are the main sources of information to the people involved.
Blogs are, however, an important backup to the Twitter messages giving new sources, such as Al Jazeera, the story in far greater depth.
For most campaigns I recommend a combination of Twitter, for instant communication; Facebook, for building a community; and the blog for supplying information in depth. Another service that should be considered is Linkedin, the professional networking site, as it is possible to find people with the skills to help you, people with influence to help you and people with money to you.
Developing an issue blog
one of the most important skills that someone running an issue blog needs is the ability to promote the site. Over the next few weeks I will be writing quite a few articles on site promotion and I hope that this will be useful to you.
Over to you
Tell me about your campaign. Do you have any hints, advice or suggestions for people writing a campaigning or issue blog.