One of the first things any councillor should do to engage online with residents is to get a website of some sort. This will help people to find you, know what you are up to and to get in touch.
One of the simplest, quickest, cheapest and most useful ways to set up a simple website is to use a blog. Most blogging tools are free to use and within a couple of clicks you can have a really professional looking website. Some of the advantages include:
· Having a home page giving a quick introduction to you and your work as councillor
· Including a contact page listing the best ways for people to get in touch with you
· Campaign or issue pages, giving information on the hot topics for the local area and what you are doing to help solve them
· Using the blog feature to provide short updates on the work you and the council are doing
· Soliciting comments and feedback from residents to get their views
The word ‘blog’ shouldn’t worry you. Many people define a blog as an online diary – which isn’t necessarily wrong, but can be a little limiting. It’s best defined as being a regularly updated website where the latest entry appears at the top – that’s really it! People use blogs to write about all sorts of things, including diaries, but also news reporting, commenting on issues, book and film reviews, helpful guides and tutorials. Some even write novels using the blog format. Some of the topics Councillors can blog about include:
· What is going to be discussed at council meetings, with follow up reports afterwards
· News and views on local and national issues
· Stories of what is happening within your ward
· Highlighting of issues to make people more aware of them
· What you have been up to both as a councillor and as a regular person!
It’s really easy to get started with a blog. One of the best ways is to use a site called WordPress. Just go to www.wordpress.com in your web browser and follow the instructions to create a blog. You’ll need your email address to hand, and can give your blog a name and an address, so people can find it easily.
If you’re comfortable using software like Word to write a document, you should be comfortable creating content within WordPress. There is plenty of documentation online to help you if you get stuck, but the whole system is pretty intuitive.
Don’t forget – the Modern Councillor ‘Getting Started with Social Media’ module features a whole module dedicated to helping you get started with blogging!
Are you a blogging councillor? Let us know in the comments below – or indeed if you have any questions about setting up a blog.