Friday, May 26, 2006 at 12:00 AM

With all due respect to my colleagues who practice government relations, political parties seldom lead when it comes to communication strategies, preference being given to door-to-door campaigning, legacy media relations and staged debates.

When it comes to web strategies, however, political campaigns -- in the US at least -- seem to be one step ahead of many corporate communications departments in taking full measure of the web as a campaign tool. A recent report by The Bivings Group on the 2006 US Senatorial campaign found that 97% of the candidates had live web sites. Most sites were used to provide a combination of news, biography, online donations, etc. However, a large minority of the candidate sites offered blogs, multimedia presentations, RSS feeds and downloads  

The key word here is "campaign". Political campaigns are engagements . . . with citizens and opponents (and sometimes with staff). Engaging with voters and making them feel part of a decision process is essential to a successful election effort.

Now, think about it. Aren't corporate issue management programs actually campaigns in which the company hopes to engage stakeholders, communities, regulators and the public at large in understanding its point of view on a problem? If so, then it seems self-evident that corporate issue managers should be watching closely -- even adopting -- new online information management and dialogue facilitation strategies being employed increasingly by political parties.

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