Group Blogging for the Man (and Fleishman-Hillard)

The BlogUnder the banner "a marketplace of ideas," major industry groups are blogging together, to "build influence and drive policy." The BizCentral blog includes the American Petroleum Institute, Business Roundtable, Nuclear Energy Institute and Personal Care Products Council. Pat Cleary, Fleishman-Hillard's senior vice president of digital public affairs, "pushed the idea from the start," reports Cleary "believes businesses ignore the Internet at great risk." He identified "congressional aides, lawmakers, reporters, policymakers and opinion leaders" as BizCentral's target audience. "Cleary got the idea for BizCentral three years ago while he was still an executive at the National Association of Manufacturers. When he moved to Fleishman, the firm gave him the resources to make it happen. The blog is free to participants and helps Fleishman build its brand as 'leaders in the digital space,' Cleary said." Previously, Cleary built NAM's blog as a tool "to fight taxes, promote innovation and shake manufacturing's reputation as an industry filled with dark and dangerous jobs." BizCentral has one rule ("post once a week") and one commandment ("we don't shoot at one another"), according to Cleary.


From a 2006 [ National Journal] article (emphasis added):

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 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."