Last Saturday, most of the people lining the banks of the Thames between Putney and Mortlake were wondering who would win the 158th University Boat Race. Or at least they were until a bearded man in a wetsuit appeared in the path of the boats, causing the race to be stopped after ten minutes, and later restarted. Then the big question was, who was this mysterious figure who had risked life and limb to interrupt the race?
The man in question turned out to be an anti-elitist Australian blogger called Trenton Oldfield, who described his actions in his blog post at http://elitismleadstotyranny.squarespace.com/ as, “a protest, an act of civil disobedience, a methodology of refusing and resistance,“ aimed at, “placing elites more and more on the backfoot, increasing their costs, causing confusion, fermenting internal mistrust…” and so forth. The Daily Mail’s Steve Bird meanwhile described Oldfield as, “rudderless and deluded, a very middle-class guerrilla,” and many other newspaper commentators seemed inclined to agree.
An effective method of blog promotion?
Was it a bold act of guerrilla social commentary or a foolhardy and egotistical endeavour that could potentially have resulted in far worse than a race restart and an arrest? That would surely be a matter of opinion, but were these simply the actions of a blogger desperate to increase traffic to his little corner of the web. If so, was the endeavour successful?
In terms of gaining exposure to his blog, ‘Elitism leads to tyranny’, one could argue that the stunt was very successful, with a broad spectrum of aforementioned news commentators clicking through for soundbites and plenty of backlinks from other websites (including this one!). It’s also probable that the boat race itself got more attention this year, aside from the usual elitists, as a direct result of Oldfield’s dip in the Thames.
A poorly executed content strategy
If Oldfield’s intention was to harness people’s attention and focus it on his blog, the strategy falls down when it comes to content. The blog holds but one article, weighing in at a mammoth 2,200 words, also entitled ‘Elitism leads to tyranny.’ Albeit this particular long tail keyword is now showing up in first position in the Google search listings, the word count of this mammoth blog post, along with the lack of variety in the site’s content, is likely to alienate all but the most ardent armchair idealists. Furthermore, the blog’s single article waffles on a variety of subjects, including: the geography of the Thames, the ‘pseudo competition of the boat race’, ‘history as a weapon’, and discourses on guerrilla tactics and the ‘transnational-corpo-aristocratic-ruling class’, to name but a few.
So, what could Oldfield have done to ensure his blog had the same impact as he himself had on the boat race?
• Shorter posts (250- 500 words)
• A single topic per post
• A catchy title that explains concisely what the post is about
• Fewer supererogatory unnecessary big words
Blog it, live it
Perhaps the one thing that businesses can learn from Oldfield is the value of linking your blog into real world actions. Of course, you don’t have to do anything as drastic as jumping into the Thames or disrupting major sporting events. For example, you might publicise your blog at a tradeshow, whilst also reporting on your presence and activities at the event.