On April 7th, 2008 Republican Presidential candidate John McCain published an op-ed about the Iraq war in the Washington Post. That same day, Fred Thompson, who is considering his own Presidential run, wrote a blog post about Iran on Red State, a conservative blog community.

Two very different approaches. One aimed clearly at the Washington elite. The other aimed just as clearly at the Republican base online.

Which worked better?

The Post has a print circulation of around 700,000 and Red State has a print circulation of zero. If you factor that in, which you should, the Post wins in a landslide.

But what if you narrow things a bit and just focus on how well the op-eds played online. Things get more interesting.

Given all of this, I think it is fair to say that Thompson’s blog post outperformed McCain’s op-ed online. Obviously the content of the pieces and where the candidates are right now played big factors in their success/failure.

But I think it is clear that choosing Redstate as a venue didn’t prevent Thompson’s message from spreading. And in fact it may have helped.

There was a certain buzz about Thompson posting on Redstate that an old-school Washington Post op-ed just isn’t going to replicate. Thompson brought his unfiltered message to the home of online conservatives. This sends a clear message that he values them and wants their support. If you want to be someone’s friend sometimes you’ve got to stop by and visit. It also lends legitimacy to Redstate.

I think the post achieved the twin goals of promoting Thompson among conservatives while also helping to grow the Redstate community (it was one of the most popular posts in Redstate history).

So am I saying Redstate (or Dailykos for Democrats) over the Post? Not at all. A mixed strategy is probably best. But I do think people should realize that a well-timed blog post can have just as much of an impact online as an op-ed in the Post.

Disclosure: I interned for Senator Thompson when I first moved to DC out of college. 

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.