It is just sort of a fact that very few trade associations blog.  One of the few that does is the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), whose blog is called

Not only does NAM blog, it does so very effectively.  What makes work is that it is written by real live human beings who have opinions.  Sure, some people aren't going to agree with NAM's point of view.  But regardless of your politics you have to respect NAM's willingness to participate in the conversation online.  What they are doing is extradinary for a DC-based trade association.

Following is a Q&A with Pat Cleary, the Blogger in Chief at  Listen to what he says – Pat is a true innovator whether he'll admit it or not.

(1) When did NAM start blogging?

November of 2004.

(2) Where did the idea to launch the blog come from?

I had always wanted to do one. Was the head of Public Affairs when we started it, went to Gov. Engler and he said “go.” It’s important to note that he didn’t say “What’s a blog?” He’s very tech savvy, gave us the green light, for which we are eternally grateful. Most assns are stuck at that step, awaiting a green light from the boss. 

(3) What is your blogs' primary focus or goal?

To tell the manufacturing story, get out our side of the issue, stay on message (except on Fridays…)

(4) How much traffic does your blog get?

We don’t make our traffic numbers public, but we can tell you it’s grown a bazillion percent since its inception.

(5) Do you have some success stories you can share that demonstrate your blogs impact?

If you go into Google News ( and Google just about any term we’re writing about, we’ll come up pretty high. ABC News did a hatchet job a while ago on the nuclear industry. They sent a bunch of interns on public tours of nuclear research facilities – whose mission, incidentally, is in part to educate the public. They took in hidden cameras and ABC aired a show called “Loose Nukes” all week in every one of their news-ertainment programs. Eric McErlain of the NEI blog tipped me off to it, we wrote on it. If you typed “Loose Nukes” into Google News that week, we were like 4 of the top 5 results. And ABC has slightly more resources than we do, including a satellite. The same is true of global warming usually as well. In Google we trust.

(6) How many people write for your blog and how much time writing does each person spend per day?

I think we’re up to 5 now. I write every night from about 9-11 pm. Carter Wood now writes quite a bit, as does Dave Kralik. Our economist, Dave Huether posts sometimes as does Bill Canis of our Manufacturing Institute. None of us have it in our job description.

(7) Do you allow open commenting on your blog? If so, has the comment area of your blog ever been hijacked? Do you think allowing comments is worth the risk?

Yes, we allow comments, makes it more real. We approve them first before they get posted. The only things we weed out are profanity and attacks on our member companies. Thus far, we’ve probably not posted a half dozen or fewer. And we’ve not yet been hijacked, but the day ain’t over. Allowing comments is absolutely worth the risk. Otherwise you end up with a Soviet–style blog like the AFL-CIO’s which promotes a point of view but doesn’t allow dissent. Turns it from advocacy to propaganda. Who wants to read that?

(8) Your blog takes strong stands on issues and has a distinct point of view, in contrast to many industry blogs that are very watered down. How did you get to the point where you were able to write so freely in the context of an association blog? Has it been a struggle?

Gov. Engler is our boss, and he has given us plenty of leeway. Without him, this thing would read like an obituary.

(9) What advice would you give other trade associations thinking about starting their own blog?

It’s simple: Would you have a communications strategy that excluded, e.g., print media or broadcast media? Of course not. How can you have a communications strategy that doesn’t include electronic media, including blogging? The conversation is going on out there with or without you. I’d prefer we be part of it, help drive it. We’re not into being spectators.

(10) Any thing else you would like to add….

Just do it.

Disclosure: We do work for an organization called Compete America, which is funded in part by NAM.  We have nothing whatsoever to do with

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.