Campaigns, organizations, and corporations all have started recognizing the need for blogger outreach these days. I’ve done it professionally before and a friend of mine does a very good presentation on how to get the most out of it based on his experience.
The fact that the campaign of Larry Hogan is having an event Wednesday afternoon (3/19) at 4:30 at the campaign’s Annapolis headquarters is a good thing. It is good they are attempting to reach out to bloggers. However, they aren’t going about it in the best way – which isn’t really a departure from how they have dealt with bloggers who weren’t suck-ups before now.
The Wednesday event is invite-only and the Hogan campaign has gone to great lengths to ensure only bloggers who meet some sort of purity test in their writings about the campaign are invited to attend. I heard about the event initially from multiple people who were invited. Since then, I’ve talked to multiple prominent bloggers, including Michael Swartz, who confirmed that they were not invited. I’ve also talked to others who were invited. And I’m sure the bloggers at Red Maryland, along with Jackie Wellfonder, will be invited after they endorsed him before he was even officially a candidate. Obviously, I wasn’t invited because members of the Hogan campaign staff “hate” me and think I’m “out to get them.”
The smart way to have an event for bloggers like this would be to announce the event and do an open invitation for people to RSVP for it. Then you can vet people from the ones who are actually interested in attending and possibly avoid any hurt feelings (not that my feelings are hurt in the least bit – let the haters hate.) Doing it that way would also protect the campaign from all of the attending bloggers from being dismissed outright as shills if the list were to get out. Additionally, I’d consider having it somewhere in public like a restaurant or bar. The Hogan campaign’is not being very smart in how they are handling this and it shows either naivete, apathetic ignorance, or an open hostility to best practices.
Of course, the reaction to my posts when they didn’t like them shows the Hogan campaign has had a lot to learn when it comes to social media. I got badmouthed to other people, had nasty emails, phone calls to others trying to track me down, and other over the top reactions. I’ve written things the other candidates (and other politicians) didn’t like and the reaction might have been negative at the time, but those candidates generally continued to deal with me and still invite me to their events and send me press releases. They understand they aren’t going to like everything any blogger writes and would rather try to catch more flies with honey than vinegar since I’ve written things that all the campaigns, including Hogan’s, should have liked. I’m not the only blogger or reporter who has noticed the contrast between the Hogan campaign and the others.
Here’s an example of what the Hogan campaign does:
This tweet was made on 3/12 by Hannah Marr, who is responsible for social media for the Hogan campaign. She was reacting to a rant by another blogger – chortling like a schoolgirl because someone was trying to slam me. No, this tweet wasn’t from an official Hogan campaign Twitter account, but it still reflected poorly on the campaign (despite any disclaimer on the handle about views being her own.) Her Twitter handle has changed (@_hmmarr) since then, but the tweet is still there (even though she did block me after she changed the handle for no apparent reason other than me following her.)
Honestly, the Nixonian thin-skinned overreaction towards me from the Hogan campaign over the past few months has only been matched by similar reactions from the Charles Lollar campaign (but then again even the “staffers” for the Lollar campaign have been unpaid amateurs unlike the paid professionals for Hogan.) At least the Hogan campaign hasn’t visited my neighborhood in the middle of the night.
I did notice Tuesday that the Hogan campaign press release (which I still got a hold of despite not being on their list) shows a new press contact at the top. Adam Dubitsky is listed as the media contact and a quick search online shows that he has a lot of DC experience including working for Senator Scott Brown, Frank Luntz, and Shirley & Bannister Public Affairs.
I am optimistic that with a seasoned pro like Dubitsky handling campaign communications that media and blogger relations will be handled more professionally and competently. Then again, it may not change since even the best communications professionals can be hamstrung by misguided clients or bosses. I’ll remain guardedly optimistic.
For reference, here’s a sampling of just pieces I’ve written about the Hogan campaign that have nothing anyone in the campaign should have been upset at me about:
- In Pictures: Larry Hogan’s Monday Trip to Western Maryland
- Larry Hogan spending St. Patrick’s Day in Western Maryland
- Notes from yesterday’s Craig-Hogan debate
- Poll: 68% of GOP voters undecided in MD Governor’s Race
- Confirmed: Larry Hogan names Boyd Rutherford as his running mate
- As reported first on The Quinton Report, Hogan naming running mate tonight
- More on Larry Hogan’s running mate
- Larry Hogan postpones announcement rally due to weather
- Short list of Larry Hogan’s potential running mates
- Larry Hogan’s online campaign presence begins to emerge
- Larry Hogan to announce on January 21
- Did the O’Malley-Brown administration shake down state contractors for federal contributions?
- Larry Hogan would announce gubernatorial campaign in January
Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.
Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.