I just finished an email to a city council candidate, one that I hope wins, advising in part that she start writing a blog on her website. Blogs are a great way to engage voters, organize supporters and let people know what’s going on with your campaign without having to depend on the paper:
In this post about Larry Skutnick, the first regular guy example used in a State of the Union addresss, Kari Chisolm writes that blogs can serve the same purpose Larry did for Reagan:
…a blog can humanize a politician.
I’ve seen it happen right here in Portland, Oregon. City Commissioner Randy Leonard – a notoriously hard-to-like fella – has made friends and defused his enemies with his direct and approachable style on BlueOregon.com. He’s written obituaries for great but unknown citizens, drawn parallels between his patriotic forebears and the Patriot Act, lamented the loss of a favorite NBA coach, acknowledged an obsession with the Jeopardy! quiz show, and even demanded (with grace and wit) a retraction from a columnist who called him “short”.
Lenny Skutnick. His name has become shorthand in White House speechwriter lingo for making sure to always include a humanizing and inspirational story about a real person in major speeches. Sure, it can easily become cliche and schlocky, but there’s a kernel of brilliance there.
You may never get to give a State of the Union address. But stop cutting and pasting press releases, white papers, and fact sheets into your blog. Instead, find ways to include your own Skutnicks.
Get human. The voters will reward you.
The mayor of Montclair in Jersey gets into it with his fellow Montclairions on local blogs, and it works to his benefit:
What’s amazing is that he doesn’t even see it as extraordinary that he cares about his reputation on Baristanet. “On the street, it’s just like ‘Oh, I saw you on the cable station.’ Now I get ‘Oh, I saw you on the blog.’” Ed points out that an appearance on a blog’s comment threads can humanize an elected offical, and that a note directly from the mayor can temper the conversation, too. “If I go on directly and respond, if I personify the discussion” he says, “people are more careful about what they say.”
To that end, city council candidates, you don’t even have to launch your own blog, just get onto existing online communities, such as olyblog.