Thursday, March 6, 2008

How a Blog Acts As a Force Multiplier

From Danny Glover's excellent article, "The Rise of Blogs" (2006):

Trade groups and other advocacy organizations are also venturing into the blogosphere, with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Nuclear Energy Institute leading the pack. NAM "blogger-in-chief" Pat Cleary has been a blog evangelist within his industry and to lobbyists in Washington. He was one of the speakers at a summer event dubbed "Blogging 101 for K Street." Issue Dynamics, a public-affairs and Internet consulting firm that opened a "blogger relations" unit, co-hosted the event. "It's smart. It's free publicity," Cleary said of blogging by trade groups. "Why not do it?"

He noted, for instance, a new feature attached to some articles at washingtonpost.com: links generated automatically via the blog search engine Technorati. The newspaper's ombudsman said recently that some reporters hate the feature, but Cleary loves it because NAM can get its unfiltered views embedded within a well-read and respected media site."In real time ... we'll see the link to our blog in that story," he said. And although Cleary acknowledged that readers might not click on the link to read his commentary, he said, "My odds are as good as [publishing] a letter to the editor ... and the Post is doing it for me."

Eric McErlain, a speechwriter for the Nuclear Energy Institute, said that his group's blog has become a "tactical component" to counter misleading media "spin." He cited a Time magazine story on security at nuclear power plants and a similar ABC News investigation dubbed "Loose Nukes," both of which ran last summer, as examples. Both reports prompted heavy blogging, not just by NEI but also by the community of like-minded allies who frequent the NEI blog. "They're carrying our water without being told," McErlain said. He added that other trade groups would do well to start blogging. "There's a conversation that's going on about your industry. And the question is whether you want to be involved."

Blogs can also serve as portals to keep activists informed about their favorite topics. That's the goal of the three blogs created last year by the human-rights group Amnesty International. The blogs focus on violence against women, the death penalty, and torture—a hot topic in Congress last year as lawmakers debated where to draw lines in the war on terrorism.

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