Looking Back: 'Shootings' and the Birth of Blogs on Capitol Hill
This week's shooting on Capitol Hill reminds me of a 2006 'shooting on Capitol Hill' situation when I was spokesperson for then U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia. Our communication response led to the birth and adoption of blogging on Capitol Hill.
On a hot August morning, I was sitting at my keyboard writing a press release when the Capitol Police closed our door and told us we were on lockdown until further notice.
"Shots had been fired" in the Rayburn House Office Building parking garage as reported by a Member of Congress we were told.
In 2006, blogging was unknown or considered taboo.
In fact, Jack's Blog was one of the only blogs for a Member of Congress on either side of the aisle (controversial to use WordPress!). We persisted, using it to communicate authentically with his constituents and the broader blogging community and media. (Jack would later be named the "King of the Blogosphere.")
During this "lockdown" period, I turned to the blog and started updating our constituents on what was happening, what the Capitol Police were telling us and artfully getting the word out about some of the key products from our district ("We're stocked up on Georgia Peanuts, Vidalia Onions and Coca-Cola Classic, we'll be fine.").
Word spread about the blogging and our blog became the primary source for media covering the news story. There it was on ABC News and CNN quoted word-for-word as Jack's Blog. Indeed, we were driving the news story from inside the situation through 'New Media.'
This was a first, and my colleagues were paying attention.
Fortunately the 'gunshots' ended up being backfire from a car in the garage. CNN wrote the story.
But I remember being out at the bar that night with reporters and press secretary friends and everyone talking about this moment being the 'Tipping Point' for blogging in politics.
From this moment on, blogging was a tool Capitol Hill taken seriously and immediately incorporated into the communication strategy. And for Jack and me, validation that direct communication mediums, when used effectively, make all the difference. Jack was a pioneer and trusted me more than I have ever been trusted; and it paid off for both of us.
Oh, and that even in un-related stories, Georgia Peanuts, Vidalia Onions and Coca-Cola Classic can provide color in a news story and move the needle in our district.