20 September 2006

Political Marketing via Blog

I received an email today from a persona (not necessarily a person) named Sarah Reid of The Element Agency. This is a communications agency (a.k.a., advertising, marketing, public relations, image management) whose client list includes many liberal, left-of-centre, Democrat, environmental and similar organizations, and the Liberal Party of Canada. The email reads as follows:
Dear fellow blogger:

Today the Daily Canuck’s guest blogging series continues with an insightful piece from Jason Cherniak about the role of blogs in the renewal of the Liberal party. You can check it out at www.dailycanuck.com.

If you would like to guest blog yourself, please follow the link on www.dailycanuck.com.

Don Millar
The Element Agency
I went to the site and had a look around. And then I wrote this response:
Dear Sarah Reid (or the person behind the persona of Sarah Reid),

I certainly do appreciate you being obvious that this email comes from a communications agency. Therefore I am able to easily understand that the entire "dailycanuck" website is framed as push marketing, rather than authentic voice.

And that, of course, is precisely the type of reversal that one (or to be specific, I) would expect. (For more, you're welcome to try to find a copy of my book, McLuhan for Managers, in which I explain all these sorts of things).

The point is that Cherniak misses the point of blogs as political engagement, and the ideal of full citizen participation in the political process that is the definition of true democracy. Perhaps it is important for members of the Liberal Party of Canada to participate in an exercise of renewal via this leadership process (although the very structure of sale of memberships and the partisan nature of the leadership selection process is the antithesis of true renewal; viz. the Greek tragedy that was Paul Martin). It is even more important, I think, that the Liberal Party of Canada engage with the oft-cliched ordinary Canadian with authenticity. Only then will it see true renewal, and a renewal of the discourse within the country, something that is badly needed in the wake of the Harper government.
In other words, it's a nice try, but no cigar (ooh, what an anachronistic cliche). It is not so much the content of the posts, but the medium of the push-marketing blog-like website (first clue - no comments) that creates the disingenuous aura that hangs on the posts like the early-morning mist on the Rideau Canal. In the post, Cherniak says,
Blogs pose a threat to a unified message. Indeed, they may eventually make a unifieid message impossible. Instead of trying to control the message coming through blogs, the Liberal Party should recognize the new reality and take advantage of it. We need to view the open debate and discussion that occurs on blogs as a tool that will allow the party to better serve its membership.
The message of Cherniak's message is completely contradicted by the fact that The Agency is very much in control.

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1 comment:

Harold Jarche said...

"authentic voice" - I like that :-)

Go get 'em Mark! They can't take our individual voices away; much as they try.