Blogosphere, Make Room for Online Fundraisers
When CBS and NBC refused to run its 30-second television commercial, the development office at the United Church of Christ was more than a little miffed.
The ad, which employed images of bulbous nightclub security guards standing behind velvet ropes in front of a church — railed against the perceived non-inclusiveness of Christian faiths. In rejecting it in early 2004, the networks said the message was too controversial and amounted to “issue advocacy.”
In response, UCC formally challenged the license renewals of two network-owned-and-operated stations in the Miami area, saying they failed to provide viewers suitable access to a full array of “social, political, aesthetic, moral and other ideas and experiences.”
According to UCC, during its test-market phase in March 2004, the ads ran without incident on more than a dozen stations, including those affiliated with CBS and NBC. In December, the ads began running nationally on several broadcast and cable networks, again with no complaints, UCC says.
But the 57-year-old, mainline Protestant denomination of more than a million members decided to fight back — this time on the Web. Partnering with the Washington, D.C.-based Internet strategic consulting firm Issue Dynamics Inc., UCC launched a blog-integrated, online-advocacy campaign on www.accessibleairwaves.org.
UCC and IDI focused primarily on leveraging relationships with other bloggers and encouraging visitor blogs that center on related faith-based issues, namely to foster diversity and inclusion. Advocacy outreach resulted in the support of diverse bloggers such as Chris Walton at Philocrites, John Aravosis at AmericaBlog, Chris Bowers at mydd.com and “Pastor Dan” of the Dailykos.com community.
The site helped generatemore than 7,300 letters to the Federal Communications Commission, raised more than $22,000 and generated hundreds of messages from bloggers since its launch in December.
In its most recent campaign, UCC continues to appeal to the blogosphere in the form of paid advertising. One effort even includes featuring the banned TV commercial on 50 top blogs. According to IDI’s Cheryl Comtee, the campaign is projected to generate more than a million page views of the ad through blog placements.