As a whole, Washington-based trade associations aren’t known for their innovative Internet strategies. The big secret about trade associations is that they have a lot to offer the Internet community – most have great stockpiles of content and staffers who are genuine experts in their fields. And a big part of a trade association’s mission is to serve as an information resource on their industry.

With Web 2.0 hitting Newsweek this week, I figured it would be a good time to develop a quick tip sheet on how trade associations can incorporate some new media tactics into their web strategy. So here’s a David Letterman style Top 10 list:

(1) Create an RSS feed of your press releases. Open up a rapid distribution mechanism to bloggers and reporters who prefer to get information via RSS. RSS is the next iteration of the traditional blast fax or email.

(2) Allow reporters and interested bloggers to comment on your press releases in your site’s Newsroom. Open up the process of media relations and have an open discussion with your site visitors about the information you are highlighting.

(3) Add tools to your website that allow users to easily bookmark your content on social bookmarking sites like and email content to friends/family. Help facilitate the word of mouth distribution of your site’s content.

(4) Participate in blogs. Read your industries ten most important blogs every day. Have staff make comments to correct mistakes or to point out resources on your site. Join the online dialogue. Always be transparent.

(5) Launch a monthly podcast series with your President or a rotating roster of key executives. Share your knowledge on the state of the industry. Send out emails to your mailing list to solicit questions.

(6) Start a focused public facing blog. Blog about a specific issue that is important to you. Blog about your education program. Blog about innovations in your industry. Blog about frequent questions you get emailed in to your website. Find someone in your association who has a distinct voice and passion and give them tools that allow them to effectively evangelize for your industry.

(7) Start a members’ only blog on your intranet/extranet. Use it as a tool to report back to your members on your activities. Use it to coordinate responses on issues you are managing. Have it replace the executive updates you’ve been mailing out every week.

(8) Monitor and edit key industry terms on Wikipedia. Associations are experts on arcane subjects. Lend that expertise to Wikipedia and help make sure your industry’s key terms are defined correctly. Don’t spin – be transparent. This isn’t a marketing opportunity, it’s a chance for you to share knowledge. Wikipedia is the 17th most visited site on the Internet.

(9) Add industry videos to viral video site’s like or Google Videos. is the 62nd largest site on the Internet. Your site, most likely, isn’t. You might reach a new audience while expending very little effort. Worst thing that will happen is nothing.

(10) Start a Wiki for your industry and allow for community editing of your resources. Maintaining an evolving list of industry terms? Allow industry experts to edit the definitions as a group. Paying a fortune to update a database of recycling centers around the country? Put the information on a Wiki and let the centers update their own information.

Some of these ideas may be goofy. All of them certainly won’t work for everyone. But hopefully this list will help generate some ideas. If you’ve got other suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments section.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.