12 rules for blogging politicians: Thou shalt not … rules 5 – 8

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/08/23 1 views

in c corporate blogging,e marketing 101 KISS,e marketing 101 serving a need

    So besides the Obama-Biden ’08 campaign in the U.S. blogging away, what about John McCain’s Twitter account?
    Politicians are using social media for reaching out to the public more effectively.
    How effective are they? This post discusses the ropes to skip and rules to follow.

Politicians around the globe have taken up blogging, such as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad. Unfortunately, it is not always clear how good a job they do using this great new tool for communicating directly with their voters.

Earlier this week we brought you good practice rules 1- 4 for blogging politicians as listed below with appreciation to the Political Weblog Project for rules 1-3:

Rule #1 – You must own (or be ready to purchase) your own domain name;
Rule #2 – You must use the technology to engage in two-way commmunication;
Rule #3 – You must fund/source the weblog with your own money or resources;
Rule #4 – You must write your own blog content or tweets;

The above seems pretty much straight forward. Nonetheless, a few politicians still fail to master this first hurdle. Before we go and assess their blogging efforts, however, I want to discuss rules 5 – 8 with you.

Rule #5 – You must keep it short and simple, stupid – KISS;
Rule #6 – You must not get up on your soap box;
Rule #7 – You must make sure your content adds value;
Rule #8 – You must keep your blog free of advertising;
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad

Below I discuss and explain each of the above rules. Next week, I will bring you rules 9 – 12. Thereafter, I will present you with some findings how our illustrous politicians measure up on each rule – pass vs fail grades will be handed out – no kidding 😉

Rule #5 – You must keep it short and simple, stupid – KISS

Yes, some of your voters may not have as much formal schooling as you have. Nevertheless, this does not mean your readers are not intelligent. Therefore, refrain from beating them over their heads with the stuff you want to tell them. Do not belittle them; do not talk down to them.

However, use short paragraphs when writing because your audience may not read every word you put up on your blog. Instead, they may scan your material.

This means that convoluted writing and long sentences are not helpful for online publishing ventures. People read and treat content differently online than in print. And no, neither the New York Times nor the Financial Times have figured this out and adjusted their printed material accordingly before putting it online.

Naturally, it is a challenge to explain difficult or complex material using about 800 words. But is it not worth a try and, most importantly, are you up for the challenge?

Rule #6 – You must not get up on your soapbox

We all have our favourite topics and things that are very dear to our heart. Examples could be such as CO2 emissions, health care, online privacy and government debt.

Nonetheless, having every two weeks a blog post about your favorite topic is not a wise strategy. The silent majority of your readers may not appreciate this. Hence, they could loose interest and what is worst, no longer follow your blog dilligently.

If you are minister, why not keeping your voters informed about important legislation, ordinances and so forth. Most importantly, explain to them with facts, numbers and links to documents what this will mean for them in their daily lives. For instance, cutting roaming charges for mobile phones – how much less will you pay to get a call at your favorite beach somewhere – became a real PR success for Commissioner Reding during summer 2007.

Rule #7 – You must make sure your content adds value

While I urge you to write your own posts to get your distinct voice on the web (Rule 4), do not just voice opinions but provide people with additional beef. Accordingly, it is surely smart to provide those members of your constituency that are interested with a hyperlink for reading more about or downloading the latest law or a budget document just having crossed your desk. Follow the KISS approach (Rule 5) and make it easy for your constituents to understand where you are coming from by giving them access understand the issues better.

And if the federal government has not already put it online, do it yourself and thereby provide your readers with valuable material faster. Timeliness of information is critical. Nevertheless, make sure that your posts add additional insights, provide links for downloading helpful material and give credit to other people’s ideas where credit is due. PS. Of course this takes another 5 minutes for each post but you might as well do it right or not all.

Obam and Biden try harder with new media than John McCain - but is it quality

Rule #8 – You must keep your blog free of advertising

If you are an elected official that has decided to purchase her own domain (Rule 1) AND paying your own way (Rule 3), you must do the right thing to protect your brand and reputation.

This means that having advertising served on your blog is a dangerous and questionable strategy. Especially if your ministry regulates the industry, why have a major player advertise on your site? This does raise issues regarding ethics, credibility and possible conflict of interest.

Hence, any sort of advertising on your webpage could make your voters suspicious. The risk for facing questions from the media asking about a possible conflict of interest, reputational issues and so forth far outweigh the advertising income.

If you want to be trusted, stay away from having avertising or commercial products shown anywhere on your blog.

Bottom Line

As an elected or appointed public official, I would recommend you look at your blog with a critical eye. Does it follow at least six of the above 8 rules. Actually, if you want a bigger bang for your buck, you have to follow all eight of these.

What’s Next?

Rules 9-12 will come your way soon explaining to you a few more important ropes to skip on the road to blogging success. Thereafter, it is benchmarking time. Using some examples I show you how it works and how Obama, Biden and many more measure up.

Incidentally, leave the URL of your favourite politician’s blog in the comments below and we will include him or her in our upcoming ranking.

Please check out:
follow Commetrics on Twitter be the first to know – subscribe Social media – defining a concept
first steps on the way to build brand while blogging like a pro good practice or best practice – what shall it be? c – top corporate blogs – how to arrive at such list – asking for feedback from bloggers

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