The eyes of the world’s media are trained on Denver, the scene of the Democrat National Convention (DNC), where Barack Obama aims to show everyone that he can hold the most powerful (elected) role on the planet. You would expect it to be a media circus but lets peak behind the curtains a bit.
This race has seen relations with the blogosphere professionalised in a way that holds many lessons for corporate and public bodies over here in the UK. Here’s an example. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is investing big in a media centre for bloggers at the DNC. Highlights;
Google Inc. will help set up a two-story, 8,000 square-foot headquarters for hundreds of bloggers descending on the Democratic convention in Denver next week, and it will offer similar services at the Republican convention in September, as new media gain influence in politics.With its financial support for the “Big Tent” blogger facility at the Democratic convention, Google stands to gain exposure and goodwill from 500 or so bloggers who paid $100 for access to the facility, run by a coalition of bloggers. Google’s software and services will be featured, including a kiosk in the public area of the tent where anyone can post videos on YouTube. “Four years ago, YouTube hadn’t been founded yet. Now, it will have booths at each convention to help delegates and bloggers upload videos taken on the floor or at events around town.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for us. You don’t get all these people in one place but every four years,” says Robert Boorstin, director of corporate and policy communications in Google’s Washington office and a former Clinton administration official.
Not only will bloggers have Internet access, workspaces and couches for napping in the “Big Tent” headquarters, they will be provided food and beverages, Google-sponsored massages, smoothies and a candy buffet. On the final night of the convention, Google is co-sponsoring a bash with Vanity Fair magazine for convention-goers and journalists that has become one of the hottest party invites.
Google will offer similar amenities for bloggers and new-media reporters who attend the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., company officials say. It will demo a variety of new political tools next week, including a search function on YouTube that will offer almost real-time keyword searches of convention speech videos.
The fascinating bit is that McCain’s team actually have set up base just a few blocks from the convention centre to counter the messaging! What does that involve? Well, you hire a big venue, invite all your mainstream media chums (don’t really have to invite – they’ll come automatically once you tell them where you’re gonna be), give bloggers free hotel rooms, and make sure you’ve got big trucks with satellite dishes on them.
Also bring along a few protestors who have some beef with Obama (either they’re “pro-Hillary” or “pro-life” or something or other), and then bring a few far left anarchist protestors as well (just to spice things up). Then go around the city and shake hands and kiss babies, making you look like the man on the street, and the black guy is made to look like an elitist rock-star.
They’ve set up this site as a focus for the ‘counter-messaging’ (great American-type term that will inevitably surface here!).
They’ve posted the reaction from Fox News’ Brit Hume on the home page:
“What’s interesting about this to me is I have never seen the campaign that is idle, if you will, during the other candidate’s nominating convention have as much of an impact before, and I think it owes something to the phenomenon of these what we call ads, and I guess in some broad sense they are. But what they really are, are Internet videos that are being published to the Internet and they spread around in this day and age very quickly and are probably as good as paid ads and I guess there’s some paid advertising going on. But, this is, wouldn’t you say Carl, from your experience, that this has been remarkable the extent to which the McCain camp has succeeded in intervening, so to speak, in this convention?”