Posterous: Email lists as starting point for net campaigning

This article appears in the current issue of Labour Research.
To emphasize the importance of email, I used to tell unions that given the choice between a great website and a list of all members’ email addresses, choose the latter. I still believe that email is the most powerful tool we have and now, thanks to a new service called Posterous, email lists can be the starting point of a multi-platform net-based campaign.

Posterous is a free service that at its core is an email-to-blog posting system. You create an account and then send email messages to Posterous creates a blog from these messages. So if you have an email address, you’ve got a blog.
But let’s take this a step further. Imagine you have a mailing list. Add to your list. Now you’ve got a blog which archives all your mailings to that list.
You’re not limited to posting simple text messages. Posterous allows you to post images, videos, audio files, PowerPoint presentations and PDF documents. In fact, you can create an entire website on the fly just by using email.
It gets better. If you have Facebook or Twitter accounts (free and easy to set up), Posterous will post whatever you send as Tweets or Facebook status updates.
And if you want the whole thing to be private, it can all be password protected.
So who could use this and why? Imagine there was a sudden need for a campaign — for example, workers occupy a factory producing wind turbines in the Isle of Wight (as recently happened). First thing you should do is create a mailing list. You then go to Posterous and set up an account and then start mailing to your list, making sure you’ve added to it.
You’ve instantly got yourself a website, a Twitter feed, your Facebook status is updated with each bit of breaking news, and you’re posting images, videos and audio files without needing to know anything technical. You don’t need to learn about HTML, FTP, content management systems, passwords, or anything else.
This is by far the cheapest, easiest and fastest way to create an online presence. And it all starts with email.
But what if you already have a website? Could this still be useful? LabourStart has begun using Posterous to publicly archive our weekly mailings to subscribers, which are then broadcast as Tweets.
As the set up takes only a few seconds and everything else is automated, this is a real no-brainer. Every union and branch should have a Posterous account.