Why City Council Members Should Blog

Minneapolis’ 2nd Ward’s Cam Gordon does it. And now Mayor RT Rybak is jumping into this blogging thing. But why would an elected official choose blogging as a communications channel?

Here is Cam’s explanation:

Welcome to Blogging, RT!

Though there are some potential pitfalls – and we’ve found them – I strongly believe that blogging is a good tool for elected officials. We can get into more depth on this blog than in any other public communication (newsletters, for example), delving into the complexity that each issue demands. I think the public is well-served to know not just what issues are before us, and not just how we vote on them, but why.

Well said. Many of the issues tackled by the city deserve deeper explanations than our local papers can justify printing. Blogging has no word restraints so articles can be as short or long as the topic deserves.

Neighborhood papers tend to do a better job with depth of coverage than the dailies but they tend to come out on weekly if not monthly schedules. Blog posts can go live as soon as they’re finished.

Newsletters put out by city council members tend to combine the worst of both, by enforcing word length restraints upon themselves as publishing very infrequently.

Blogging Makes the Job Easier

Rather than relying on the media to tell the story, tell it yourself. Get it out there faster and in more depth than the media will. You’ll find that the media will start to rely upon your blog for future stories and background on new developments.

How many times do city council members find themselves answering the same questions over and over again? Think about how much time you can save by pointing people to blog posts you’ve written about the subject. For example, what if someone calls up and says, “what the heck is up with _______?” you could point them to the post you wrote about the subject 6 months ago. This allows you to save the time you’d spend repeating yourself AND demonstrates that you’re on top of the subject your constituent is calling about.

Blogging, technically, is not any more difficult than writing and sending an email. It’s worth talking to someone with blogging experience on how to get things set up (1-time decisions such as which domain to use, what blogging platform to use, etc are worth getting right). But once it’s up and running, you simply login, write a title, the article, and click publish.

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