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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Welcome to the Netroots, Senator Biden

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Senator Joe Biden jumped in with both feet over at MyDD earlier today, and was greated with a good mix of hostility and acceptance. This gives me a good opportunity to get a few things off my chest about candidates and electeds entering the blogosphere with increasing frequency.

1.) Your star power is dwindling. At first, diaries at Kos, MyDD, and guest columns at places like Swing State Project were great opportunities to be seen by thousands in the grassroots and greeted with thankfulness for what was almost always a fundraising attempt. They almost always shot up to the top of the recommended list in record time. That doesn't happen any longer. I have seen diaries by Nick Lampson (TX-22) drift away into obscurity. There is a higher standard in the netroots now-a-days.

2.) Recognize that the the Internet an opportunity to have a discussion with the grassroots, and yes, ask things of us, but it is quickly becoming a vehicle to hold our representatives to account, as witnessed on Senator Biden's MyDD thread. So, if you have recently pulled some B.S. on the campaign trail or in the House or Senate--people remember and will call you on it.

3.) If you are going to post, then post. Don't have your communications staff posting under your name, pretending your effort at outreach is anything more than some screed that you approved (maybe) over a cup of coffee earlier in the morning. Now I'm not saying that Senator Biden's post on MyDD wasn't written and posted by him, but I know that we aren't always talking to the candidates when we think we are.

Most people understand you have work to do, so if you want to write something up yourself, and have it posted under your name by a staffer, cool. At the end of the entry, just be upfront with us was placed on Kos or MyDD by a staffer. We understand. But if you have a staffer that is running around and perpetrating like they are the Congressman/Woman/Senator/Presidential candidate, your "brand" and credibility online will be shot when it is uncovered.

3.) Stick around and reply to comments. Set aside a good half-hour or so after your entry. Come back later in the night and reply. Check in early the next morning. Just make sure you reply.

It may be "socially" acceptable now to drop a "flaming bag of dog poop" (aka post-and-run), but the ones who in the future will receive the rewards candidates are looking are the ones that actually engage the netroots in the comments section in their own diaries. Or hell, even diaries that aren't your own. Set aside an hour or two a week just like you would for fundraising calls.

4.) Do more than just ask us for money. I cringe when I see "candidates" running for Congress on places like DailyKos who do nothing but write diaries with the sole purpose being the fundraising link at the bottom of the entry. It drives me crazy, and I suspect that many others are starting to see right through it as well. We are not solely an ATM Machine.

5.) Do not just copy and paste press releases. We know it when we see them.

This is not to pick on Senator Biden, because a lot of the points I listed above did not happen in his entry. In fact, during the filibuster battle, I called his office for a copy of a floor speech he gave, and had one emailed to me within 5 minutes. For that I was grateful, for sure. This is for the increasing number of candidates who have decided they want to "reach-out" to the netroots. What worked in 2004 might work a bit in 2006, but I can promise you, it won't work nearly as well in 2006 to 2008.

Posted at 01:27 AM in Netroots | Technorati



Why do you get mad at blogers who grill your candidate, Pennnacchio, yet you attack a sitting senator? Guess being polite only extends to democrats you agree with...

Posted by: jkfp2004 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2005 12:07 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

You obviously didn't make it to the end of the piece.


Posted by: Tim Tagaris [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2005 01:50 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Nice post, Tim.

Posted by: Matt Stoller [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2005 04:39 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

nicely put, tim.

Posted by: skippy [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2005 06:49 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Do you know anyone who can fill in this Wikipedia stub about Chuck?

Posted by: Gary Boatwright [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 17, 2005 06:57 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Based upon that one diary, I have my doubts as to whether Sen. Biden will be one of the ones who "gets" what we're all about, although I'll reserve judgment. A shame, really, because a savvy internet outreach could really help him make peace with the elements of the party that oppose him most vocally.

One other item that may belong on Tim's list is the increasing incidence of online petitions. Sometimes petitions are great - remember Conyers delivering the DSM signatures to the White House? But what I'm concerned about is that some candidates seem to limit their internet outreach to urging people to go to their website and sign this petition or that petition every week. Petitions rarely accomplish much, online petitions even less so, and overuse of the tactic will dilute it to the point of meaninglessness. I hope they'll tone down the frequency and also remember to engage in other forms of outreach besides just petitions.

Posted by: Steve M [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 18, 2005 10:09 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment