How do you get a million readers for a trade association blog? Ask the Beltway Blogfather…

March 21, 2008 at 2:53 pm 1 comment

We’ve returned to the Old Continent this morning after an eventful couple of weeks elsewhere in the world (hence lack of posts); the last few days of which have been spent in Washington D.C. at our annual Global Public Affairs Practice meeting. The gathering, held this year in the second most famous hotel in the US capital, saw a great panel debate on the US presidential elections from some well-known D.C. insiders as well as a good slice of digital in the form of a panel of e-campaign strategists from both sides of the aisle in the current elections.

Some of the insights on offer in the digital panel can be caught on the blog of panellist David All, TechRepublican. It was interesting to note that the panelists sometimes find inspiration in the activities of European politicians online, such as Sarkozy, and face the same challenges in integrating digital into US politics as we find in intergrating digital into public affairs in Brussels. It seems that even in the US, convincing folk that digital can complement, enhance and sometimes be more effective than traditional offline activities can still be a challenge.

Chairing the blogger panel was FH DC’s Pat Cleary, SVP for digital public affairs or the “Beltway Blogfather” as he is apparently known. Meeting Pat you can’t help but be bowled over. He has experience and enthusiasm in equal bucket loads. Pat is the man behind bizcentral.org, a blogging platform launched recently in D.C to some acclaim (Politico, ABC) for trade associations to express their views online.

Currently eleven associations are signed up (for free) with the only rule that the associations must post at least once a week. Pat is honest enough to admit that for some of those blogging the whole experience is like taking the first tentative step on the digital ladder. The trick, he feels, is to not get lost in wikis, blogs and social media but to concentrate on how these tools can drive the organisation’s message towards an organisation’s key audiences in an effective and efficient manner.

In any case, should you be taking those tentative steps, who else would you want at the bottom holding the ladder steady but Pat? He’s the man who in a previous life created a public policy blog for the (US) National Association of Manufacturers that hit a million readers after two years…it continues to this day (just without Pat).

Thankfully at the end of our meetings the FH Brussels team didn’t walk away from the Mayflower Hotel with nothing more than a room number plaque with the digits 871. We’ve convinced Pat to come over to Brussels in early May to share some of his experiences. Two events are in the pipeline; one aimed at Brussels based trade associations who may wish to learn from Pat’s experiences with the NAM and a second where Pat will appear on a panel with Brussels based decision-makers to reflect upon recently completed FH/Harris Interactive research into the way European citizens are using the internet to inform their political decisions. More information about the two (free to attend) events will follow here and on our FH Brussels corporate website in next couple of weeks.

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Use of blogs by Brussels trade associations triples! Tibet, Tibet.

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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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