Reaching citizens online

I published a piece called “Reaching citizens online” on the Weber Shandwick Digital Public Affairs blog.

Many political organizations, politicians and interest groups are anxious to learn how to best reach citizens online. I have researched how youth organizations (based in the United Kingdom) do so, both on their websites and then later on social media. It’s been interesting to gain insight into choices about web presence while keeping in mind how these organizations think about young people as citizens.

I looked at two types of organizations: both those connected to government, and those focused on single issues like the environment or animal rights. Whatever the focus, I found that all organizations subscribed to a similar web strategy. The overarching goal of web content was a wish to create engaged citizens. This was accomplished in two ways: First, web content was used to provide information to young visitors. Second, organizations pursued an “inform then involve” approach to get youth engaged and participating.

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New book: Communicating Citizenship Online

My dissertation research was published in July 2012 by Hampton Press. The book is entitled “Communicating Citizenship Online,” and is available for purchase on Amazon. Here is a brief summary:

How do youth organizations use new media? How do they address Internet savvy youth who are also apathetic citizens? How has this evolved with new demands for interactivity in social media? These are contemporary challenges facing any organization active online. Spanning seven years of research, this book examines these issues and considers three separate political contexts with a variety of analytical tools.

In a broad sense, this is a study about contemporary citizenship and how it is reflected in organizational aims. The book also provides a comprehensive overview of web-based communication, starting in the heyday of official websites and moving into the realm of social media. It offers important insights into the relationship between context and content.