Spreading The Word

If you’re a local election candidate, or running in the European elections in June, you’ve probably been contacted once or twice by now with offers to add some Obama Magic to your campaign.

Maybe you got an email from miCandidate, or a text message from Marty Dunleavy.

If you did, delete it.

True, Barack Obama did build an impressive campaign, using new media tools like twitter, facebook and youtube.

But he also used old media, giving press, radio and TV interviews.

Word has it he even met the voters, and made a few decent speeches.

Meeting the voters, writing to them, and getting your message across through the local newspaper or radio are all still good campaigning methods. And so too are new media tools.

But remember, Barack spent four years running for the White House, patiently building support through traditional and innovative methods.

It’s a really bad idea to sign up for a new media package to Obamify your campaign seven weeks before the vote.

Do that, and you won’t look clued in. You’ll look desperate.

If you want to do an Obama, stick to the fundamentals. Build a network. But don’t think you can buy one readymade.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.


  1. Hear! hear!

    I worry about who we are voting for when some of them seem to believe paying big money – relatively speaking – for a web presence they will donate no time to, will return any sort of dividend.

    Looks like you got most of what I said in 4000 words on Irish Election into 200 words!


  2. I could probably bore the nation for weeks on end with my thoughts on how the political parties and traditional media outlets are struggling with the idea of new media, delivered two hundred words at a time.

    Part of the problem is control. Politicians will never really like the idea of true blogging, since they know it will lead to flame wars (even if they don’t know what flame wars are). Newspapers are all too aware of the cost of one defamatory comment left on a blog. Both dislike losing control of the message.

    Then again, its hard to blame county council candidates for falling for the miCandidate hype. I’ve heard several uncritical radio interviews promoting the piece, and read even more print articles. Several give the impression that this is a pan-EU website. Where else are councillors, most from a generation that barely uses the internet, going to get their information?

    As a freelance journalist, I’ve been inspired to write by several ideas from the blogs. But pitching them is largely a waste of time. Any of half a dozen newspapers in Ireland would benefit from an informative and entertaining blog column. None are likely to do much more than run occasional Ton Ten blogs lists, or make passing mention of online tools in a story like #picturegate where their impact cannot be ignored.

  3. They’ll have to stop ignoring them soon. We saw this week in the UK the power a good blog can have against those in comfort.

    Absolutely agree with you on newspapers and politicians afraid of losing control of the message. Newspapers have lost their position in society, or least a large part of it. The only way they can regain that position is by making themselves valuable again, the way to do this is to become a reflection of society and by giving that society a place to express itself. Whether that be through comments on a blog by journalists or by blogs written by readers on a news website, I don’t know but it will have to happen in some way and in a big way.

    The uncritical radio shows and print articles are due to the fact many of the journalists not understanding what MiCandidate are (or are not) doing, another load of them are more than happy re-writing press releases and pretending to be journalists and then there’s another group that are so overworked due to cut-backs that they don’t have the time to look past the PR and see the truth.

    The Government should produced a free MiCandidate through one of its independent bodies long ago anyway… they didn’t hence the snakeoil. It’s a sad situation all ’round.

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