Inside Blogball: The Improvement Of The Senate Republican Message Machine

Before the 2004 elections, bloggers on the right were treated as afterthoughts by the GOP. They really didn’t know or care much about what we were doing back then. After the election, they started to send a few releases out here and there and then, about the time we started relentlessly pummeling Harriet Miers, they figured out that they’d start reaching out to us a little more. In fact, I believe the first GOP teleconference occurred during the Miers nomination. But, today? We get press releases galore, presidential contenders are hiring blog gurus, and we’ve already had teleconferences with Tony Snow and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this year.

However, the best thing that they’ve done so far is Mitch McConnell’s hire of Jon Henke to be a liaison between the Senate Republicans and the blogosphere.

Quite frankly, before Henke, we got lots of press releases from the GOP, but they had it exactly backwards. They looked at whatever the message of the moment was for their campaign and then they put it out there and hoped it would be picked up. 99% of the time, it wasn’t. That’s because the “message of the moment” wasn’t that interesting. Bloggers just didn’t think their audiences would be interested in the minutiae that was being sent out.

What Henke, a former blogger at QandO blog, has done differently is that he actually looks at it from the blogger’s perspective. The idea being, “Gee, if I were still blogging, what would I want to write about?” Because of that, because he sends out items that are very bloggable, he has had much more success in getting the Senate Republican message out in the blogosphere. In fact, a handful of times this year, I’ve looked around the right side of the blogosphere and have seen stories that Henke has put out there showing up all over the place. That’s something that almost never used to happen in the pre-Henke era.

Since that’s the case, the House Republicans and the Bush Administration should take a page out of Mitch McConnell’s book and hire their own blog liaisons to get their message out. It has worked for the Senate, so why wouldn’t it work for the rest of the GOP?

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