Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Reaching Out to the Netroots

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Tim Walberg's efforts to reach out to conservative bloggers, and a week ago I wrote about his appearance at Townhall.com. It's clear that Walberg hopes to harness the power of Internet-based activists in getting his message out, a tactic used successfully by candidates across the country-- especially Democrats, thanks to powerful communities at Daily Kos, MyDD, and elsewhere.

Now, the very presence of this blog and the incredible support I've received from the other contributors, other Michigan bloggers, and elsewhere shows that there's an interest in helping elect someone new in 2008. By the summer of 2008, what started last August as one guy at a keyboard could become a big thing, driven by forces more powerful than my typing skills.

Prospective candidates ought to appreciate this interest, because a successful online operation can help change the course of a modern campaign. But it's not worth much if the candidate doesn't engage the netroots.

I know that there are a couple candidates and/or potential candidates that, from time to time, read this blog. There are also a fair number of hits from the "house.gov" domain. So, even though I'm no Chris Bowers or Tim Tagaris, I'd like to encourage you to take advantage of the netroots and the blogosphere.

So I have a few requests of all potential challengers to Tim Walberg. While mostly focused on Democrats, these apply to independent/third party candidates and Republican primary challengers as well. These suggestions don't just apply to dealing with Walberg Watch. There's a whole world of potential with the Michigan blogosphere.
  • Get an account at Michigan Liberal. State Senator Mark Schauer already has, and he's had two front-page posts. (Schauer says he's going to finish his term, but plenty of folks still seem to expect him to run... it's like he's our very own Al Gore!)
  • Use your account at Michigan Liberal. If you want support, go ahead and ask for it! Write a diary titled, "I'm _____ and I'm Running for Congress", and give us your vision for America. Then, read the comments, and reply to them. Then, post on specific issues, plans, or ideas. Take the criticism as free advice from motivated activists. Show them love, and they'll help you win.
  • Start your own blog. Blogger is excellent for this, and is easy to use regardless of your knowledge of computers and "the tubes." Then put a prominent link on your campaign site, and update regularly. You don't need to write an entire manifesto every day. Instead, just comment on the campaign, the people you meet, and the problems you want to solve.
  • Use YouTube to your advantage. So what if you don't have money for a television ad? Video can still be used creatively.
  • Treat blogs just like any other form of media. Send a copy of your press releases to bloggers in the district, and, if you're going to hold an event, let us know in advance-- maybe we'll be there, and write something favorably about it.
  • Don't treat us just like any other form of media. That contradicts the last one, right? See, Walberg Watch isn't the Battle Creek Enquirer, and you shouldn't just send press releases here, and expect me or Doug or anyone else to just write an article about it. Ask us to get involved, or offer to write content specifically for the blog (presumably cross-posted on your own campaign blog). We aren't an arm of your campaign, but we're another way that you can attract supporters.
  • Feel free to contact us. Thank us for what we write, or tell us when you don't like what we write. I can't guarantee that it'll change anything (or, for that matter, that we'll reply in a timely manner... I'm awful at that). But it will show that you're paying attention and are interested. It boosts our little blogger egos, and, who knows, maybe you'll learn something new too. (For Walberg Watch specifically, if you don't want to contact all of us with the Google Groups address, check the user profiles to see if we have our personal e-mail addresses listed.)
There are any number of lists like mine in the progressive blogosphere, and probably plenty that are better. All I'm saying is, if you want to beat Tim Walberg, recognize the potential resource you have available to you, just like he has.


Excellent post! This one is a must-read for anyone hoping to run for office in 2008. Great work, Fitzy.
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