The chief way of presenting a political message on the internet is writing an article.
The type of article will be defined by the nature of your campaign. But whatever the article type, the easier it is to read the more likely you will make your point.
Make sure you:
Get the Basics Right
A well written, error free article will be an easy read. An error strewn article will undermine your authority. It will make it much easier for your opponents to dismiss you.
Use a spell checker. Check any correction has resulted in the intended word. Remember a spell checker will not spot the wrong word spelt correctly (e.g. whether or weather).
Keep to accepted grammatical rules. If a reader has to reread a sentence they may lose interest or get the wrong message.
George Orwell’s six rules for good writing:
- Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Use Appropriate Style
Know your target audience:
- Who is reading the article?
- Why are they reading it?
- What is their age group?
- What is their nationality?
- What action do you want them to take?
Use language appropriate for them.
Write for the Internet
The web imposes requirements on writing style. PC monitors have poor resolution and there are often problems with flicker and glare. Screen size physically cramps the reading area.
On a typical web page, there will be moving adverts and other eye-candy competing for a reader’s attention. A web browser may be open on a desktop along with other applications.
This makes reading from a screen difficult. People read 25 percent slower compared to printed material. They are unlikely to want to read long passages of text.
The presentation of a political message on a screen needs to be simpler, shorter, clearer and more immediate than presentation on a printed page.
- Use short, uncomplicated sentences.
- Use short paragraphs.
- Chunk text into blocks that require no scrolling to view in full.
- Use bulleted lists and tables to summarize.
Check and Edit
Always check your work. Read it aloud. Something that looks OK on the screen may cause you to stumble when you read out loud. If it does, change it.
Get someone to read it to you. Are you convinced?
Keep reading. Keep writing.
Develop a critical eye, both for your own work and other peoples. Do not confine your study to politics. There are lessons to be learnt everywhere.