While this is no 100% synopsis of my research paper "Weblogs als Kommunikationstool im Online-Wahlkampf"
("Weblogs as a communicative tool for online-campaigning") the following lines give a rough summary of its content.

If you have any comments or questions i am very much looking forward to you contacting me!
I am going to translate the paper itself once i get around to it. If you cannot wait that long don´t hesitate to contact me also!

Blog communication´s impact on professional political PR - or vice versa?

The use of blogs by political activists and NGOs is paramount. Blogs of political parties or their politicians however are harder to implement. What went on in the campaigns of Howard Dean and others does not comprise the full spectrum of challenges, content- and structurewise, that weblogs of established political actors have to face.

Anywhere above the regional level, "political blogging" falls into the realm of campaign strategists, of the "Kampas", of outsourced campaigning competence paid to convey particular images of the candidates. These actors rely on a strategically planned output, without much input from the outside once a concept has been planned. Thus, blogging in the sphere of political parties will find itself in the field of tension between political content and professional online campaigning.

Blogs and professional online campaigning are two worlds colliding: The co-responsive architecture of the blogosphere with its deliberative democratic notions meets the hierarchical inner structures of political parties. Who states what at which time and to which particular public follows a very ´unbloggish´ regime. Enter the world of the political "whip", and of strict campaign planning, in parts outsourced to professional pr- and public-affairs-agencies.
Political PR, just as any approach to modern campaigning, traditionally uses a passive concept of its addressees. The voter, or "Non-Opinion-Leader" is sitting at the dead-end of a one-way-street. His function is to cast his vote and, at best, to be the subject of polls every once in a while.
Blogging however, knows no constant passivity. Blog communication oscillates between receiving and re-sending. Comments, syndication and backtracking caters towards active participation, involvement in choosing and shaping issues and openly communicating all sides of the discussed issue.

Even with these seeming incompatibilities recognized, there´s still the challenge of integrating this practice into the logic of a party at work. Ability to fit along with the ´daily routine´ of conventional politics is another key factor for the prospects of political blogs. How can politicians, parties and political institutions work with the pace of bloglike publishing cycles? What constraints of daily workflow, decision making and publication practice have to be considered when it comes to integrating a weblog in the communications of a party or party-politcal-actors?

How do party-political reality and blog-pratice go together? Will political blogs take the path of watered down xml-press-release-platforms carrying the label "Blog" only for so long as it serves as a vehicle to create media attention? Will parties use their public-affairs-agencies to shape "pseudo-individual" politicians´ blogs that though do enable a transparency-conveying dialogue with a critical public? Or do blogs indeed install elements of bottom-up-communication-processes in the sphere of parties and candidates?


Andreas Wagner studies Media and Communications at the Free University Berlin. The paper "Weblogs als Kommunikationstool im Online-Wahlkampf" ("Weblogs as a communicative tool for online-campaigning") emerges from a class in his Political Science minor.


© 2004
Andreas Wagner