Far be it

Far be it for Your Working Girl to offer career advice to anyone, but a recent New York Times article, Political Blogs Ready to Flood Campaign Trail caught her weather eye during the same week that three students from Ken Wyman’s program at Humber College volunteered to do a case study on the www.notobillc470.com campaign for a class assignment.  It always warms Your Working Girl’s heart to see young people enthusiastic about learning effective campaign technique (as opposed to . . . . let’s say for the sake of it  . . . branding).  Ken runs a great program out there at Humber with very fine students.  Your Working Girl has always said this.   
Your Working Girl has also maintained that election campaigns are like war.  In the same way that war results in significant medical and scientific advancement, election campaigns (especially big ones like U.S. presidential campaigns) are well-funded laboratory tests for improving the way in which we engage donors, voters or consumers.     
U.S. players like Politico, Talking Points Memo and RealClearPolitics are already laying the ground and hiring bloggers to report on what’s happening down on the farm in the lead up to the November 2012 presidential election.  
“We were a garage band in 2008, riffing on the fly,” Jim VandeHei, Politico’s executive editor and co-founder told the New York Times.  “Now we’re a 200-person production, with a precise feel and plan.”
Blog reporters, each attached to a candidate and armed with a laptop and a flip video phone, are posting the candidate’s schedule, reporting on candidate meetings, the state of campaign finances, and catching the pearls of wisdom frequently uttered in early campaigns.  And they ride pretty cheap.  Right now, twenty-five-year-old Kendra Marr is shadowing Tim Pawlenty, former Republican governor from Minnesota, who may take a run at the Republication nomination.  And these bloggers are doing it, if you’ll pardon the expression, respectably, just like, if you’ll pardon another expression, real reporters.  This idea is a ten-strike.
Terry Fallis didn’t win Canada Reads with his CanPol book The Best Laid Plans for nothing (unless it was having the best-known defender).  And, with a six-week commitment, Canadian elections offer much better working conditions than the U.S.  And so, Gentle Reader, in anticipation of a soon-to-be-called federal election, Your Working Girl is putting it to you:  Be the citizen/blogger/reporter.  Pick a candidate.  Any candidate.  Why not pick someone that no one will hear about unless you blog about them?  Find out who they are and why they’re running.  The vast majority of candidates get no campaign coverage whatsoever.  True story.   I will even put together a little handbook for you on how to be a good citizen/blogger/reporter.  (I am Your Working Girl after all.)
At any rate, it’s time the 140-character crowd got taken down a peg or two.  In the mist of Twitter posts about “I’m so running late for the bus” and “Go Packers”, both the Prime Minister and Industry Minister Tony Clement tweeted major public announcements in the past couple of weeks.   
“True. CRTC must go back to drawing board,” Mr. Clement tweeted after being asked if it was correct the government would act “if the CRTC does not back down” [on killing unlimited internet access].
Are we governing by tweet now? 
But the big news is that, apparently, Mr. Clement, Minister of Industry, swings a bigger Twitter stick than our Prime Minister although Prime Minister Harper has more than 80,000 followers as opposed to Mr. Clement’s 8,000 followers.  What’s up?
What’s up is the  Peace, Order and Googeable Government study released late last week by Mark Blevis, and reported in The Globe and Mail.  The study, worth reading in its entirety, has Mr Clement scoring higher on the Klout scale.   
Mr. Clement has a Klout score of 62 and a “True Reach” of 3,000.  Mr. Harper, meanwhile, has a Klout score of 58 but a “True Reach” of only 9. That’s because Mr. Clement tweets constantly, engages his audience and makes a “meaningful connection” says the study.  The Prime Minister does not; instead, he sends out links to press releases and photo ops.
There’s a lesson to be had here for the fashion-forward networkers out there.  Big numbers don’t mean big impact.  Think about going auteur.   Improve your Klout score.  Becoming a citizen/blogger/reporter could help in that regard.  And, if you don’t mind, while you’re at it, please stop telling us what you had for lunch (unless you’re Stephen Fry that is).

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  1. OK, we have a provincial election this year and quite possibly a Federal election. Will my Twitter or Blog really make a difference when there is so much trivial textual pollution being strewn about the internet. Speaking of which, what has happened about simple accountability to what one says, especially when a politician can hide behind one-way communication apps like Twitter.Bring back the soapbox where interaction is demanded and messaging is not only honed, but clarified. I do believe Toronto still has the soapbox at city hall, so let’s get Rob Ford or his brother up there to explain why they they see “Toronto the Good” morphing into “Toronto the mediocre."

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