At today's 3rd annual Personal Democracy Forum Conference here in NYC, where the likes of Elizabeth Edwards, Jon's wife, and Web celebs like Doc Searls, Chris Nolan and Kos milled about, I attended an interesting session about video blogging.
A lot of the panelists were discussing ways political candidates or advocacy groups can use video blogging (either campaign-produced, or volunteer/supporter-produced) to engage voters online.
V-blog aficionado Steve Garfield shared his experiences working on Boston City Councilor John Tobin's '06 campaign. Garfield convinced the candidate to create short video clips for his site -- stuff featuring him at local events promoting initiatives, at a council meeting, in the public square, that sort of thing. Evidently, Tobin was so taken with the potential for video blogging and his site he had all his bumper stickers and lawn signs changed to read, "VoteJohnTobin.com" -- that's it. The candidate created a new video for each of the 9 days leading up to the city election.
We also learned about another current candidate, Ned Lamont. The candidate for Senate from Connecticut has lots of supporters using YouTube to distribute video in support of him (and apparently to dis Joe Lieberman, his Dem primary opponent, too).
The consultant working on the Lamont campaign stressed, "You don't want to control the message," and he thinks enabling supporters to put out their own CGM-developed video through a site like YouTube is a good way to have voices heard that may not be suitable if directly disseminated through the campaign itself.
Interesting to note: Councilor Tobin took the opposite tack, stating in a V-blog clip, "with TV and radio time so expensive and so controlled video blogging allows you to control your message." It makes sense he'd appreciate this inexpensive means of getting his message out without being encumbered by media interpretation. However, I suspect this will be an ongoing debate among techno-politicos. In the same way that commercial marketers are struggling to determine the best ways to incorporate CGM and distribution channels like YouTube, political and advocacy campaigns exploiting these media will also be debating what makes sense -- more or less control. Of course, whether they truly have the ability to make that decision is another story....