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16/09/2006

The liberal blogs that roared - and got clipped by Clinton

The Guardian carries a whole page today on a meeting between Bill Clinton and a group of liberal bloggers in New York.

The meeting was in part as a result of the victory of the bloggers over US national TV network ABC about what they felt were misleading and erroneous representations of the Clinton administration's handling of the growing threat from Al-Qaeda in the 1990s in a TV movie The Path to 9/11. Under pressure for the bloggers investigations and rebuttals the network edited several scenes.

The case, and the fact that Clinton wanted to meet with this newly influential group of people, is seen as significant not just as an acknowledgement of the potential power of bloggers, but the rise of the liberals in this medium, for a long time felt to have been very much under the shadow of their left wing rivals.

At the moment in the UK two very good political blogs, Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes are pretty much top of the pops, but there's yet to be a superstar liberal blogger or group to make an impact on the mainstream news agenda. I'm sure you're correct me if I'm wrong - and I'd be delighted to hear it. I expect one will be along soon....

: :  Now from a comms perspective there was one point in the Guardian article which really stood out for me, when Clinton reveals that he has started having blog posts included in his daily clippings service.

Clinton told the group that over the past two years he had become an avid reader, and that he now included blog posts in his daily news cuttings service. For the bloggers, toiling away in their front rooms, it was heady stuff. "Here I was with a group of my friends and colleagues, meeting with one of our nation's presidents because our small, do-it-yourself political operation had drawn his attention," writes Chris Bowers on the MyDD blog. "I mean, this is largely work I have completed from the bedroom of my apartment in West Philly."

I recall speaking with corporate communications colleagues about reaching the most senior political and board level individuals via the media. It's very hard indeed because not only are they time poor but you face the double filter of first winning editorial coverage and  then that editorial coverage.  I've asked more than one very high level executive what they read and got the answer: "I skim my daily digest."

Now this highlights three points for me that are relevant for online communications:

  1. Obviously strong, relevant blog content is beginning to reach very powerful people direct, at their request.
  2. Digests or clippings services are effectively a rich person's aggregator: humans filter their media for them each day and guess/learn what will be useful and of interest to them - but because of Google News, TechMeme and increasingly blog readers these aggregators are becoming  part of everyone's lives.
  3. Good online comms, whether a blog, a news feed, or a good new media release service has three passes at influencing end audiences (at least): if its network presence is good enough it will reach some key people direct, others via aggregators and it will also stand the chance of being re-reported in mainstream media.

All good reasons for working out how to make your online comms approach effective whether you're a journalist or a corp comms departments. And no, that doesn't mean just posting your release/story and pushing it out to an email database.... but more on that another time.

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