Astroturf Lobbying is on the Way Out

The tune and tone has changed dramatically in Washington. There is a new and unprecedented government interest in collaboration, building consensus and public involvement.  And this doesn’t appear to be astroturf lobbying.  (Synthetic grassroots movements manufactured for a fee.)  President Obama is showing a commitment to citizen participation, transparency and openness, beyond what we’ve seen in recent memory.

·    The first new blog at WhiteHouse.gov (posted at 12:01pm on January 20, 2009) was about a renewal in communication, transparency and participation.  www.whitehouse.gov

·    The White House has opened an Office of Public Liaison & Intergovernmental Affairs (OPL-IGA) to be “… through which everyone can participate and inform the work of the President…. stimulating honest dialogue and ensuring that America’s citizens and their elected officials have a government that works effectively for them and with them. To bring new voices to the table, build relationships with constituents… through the meaningful engagement of citizens and their elected officials by the federal government.” www.whitehouse.gov


One of three Obama memos issued on his first full day on the job focused on transparency and open government, saying “… to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy…. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.”

The directive also calls for “… within 120 days …recommendations for an Open Government Directive that instructs departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles… in this memorandum.” (



The intent is obviously for more information, better decision-making and citizen involvement.  Will this trickle down to the states, counties and municipalities?  With the money and rules coming from the top, it has to.  Smart people will need to (re)learn and adapt to this new way of working and getting things done.  You’ll find more information at the bottom of this page to help you make this transition. 

And I’ve Decided to Stop Burning Trash in my Barbeque Grill


A recent newspaper story was touting the “greening” of a group of businesses, gushing about their security guards who were now patrolling in “electric golf carts” — apparently they have just been invented.  Another business had actually gone to the extreme of placing receptacles so that customers could “recycle” their empty water bottles.  It may be this kind of cutting edge, investigative journalism that helps explain the pending loss of yet another big city daily newspaper.   

The environment is suddenly the new Baby on Board sign.  Green-washing won’t cut it now.  The level of attention being paid to the issue is terrific for publicity and maintaining a high profile but dangerous when the fad fades and it loses its importance.   The only way out of our problems – whatever they may be – is when real people pay attention, demand actual changes to behavior and laws, and we accept our individual role and personal responsibility.  Fluff won’t fix anything.

Ways Social Media Will Change in 2009

An online article by Ravit Lichtenberg (cool name) explains that “social media” was the term du jour in 2008, but that social media today is a pure mess, “It has become a collection of countless features, tools, and applications fighting for a piece of the pie.”  He thinks that social media as we know it is changing course.  Much of the article is pretty techno-geeky but he says that social media is morphing into a holistic experience that speaks to people’s social needs in new ways.  In slightly plainer English:


It’s About People

We’re moving away from “users,” “customers,” and “shoppers.” Social media is bringing back the human element to all digital interaction. People now deliberately seek meaningful connection, self-expression, and a relevant and receptive community.


Creating Meaning and Value

Social media will no longer be about features and applications. These have become a dime a dozen. People will be looking to get tangible and relevant value out of their social experience; they’ll be looking for meaning and for order.


Creating Relevant Social Networks

People will create, join, and seek social networks that enable them to have meaningful and relevant experiences with each other. They will measure their return on investment (time spent, level of disclosure, etc.) in replies, comments, their ability to influence, and the value of their learning. Rachel Masters, VP of Strategic Relationships at Ning — a social network that grew a massive 388% in 2008 — says, “The Internet is confusing because it can be used to replicate almost any previous medium. Ning addresses this by delivering social networks that allow people to connect around the things they love.” 


Connecting with the Rest of the US and the World

With some exceptions, today’s active social media users are early adopters. In the next one to two years, the benefits of social media will cross the chasm and reach the mainstream, not only in the U.S. but around the world — especially in community-driven regions like Southeast Asia and countries like Brazil, Russia, and Germany. 



Learning Opportunities

International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) training is a recognized global standard for effective, authentic, principled public involvement and consensus.

Arizona State University’s (ASU) downtown Phoenix campus is offering IAP2 Half-Day Public Participation Training on March 27, 2009, and the full IAP2 Certificate will be offered at ASU in April and May. 

Contact John at  602-266-5556  or jdg@GodecRandall.com for more information or just click on  

I just got an e-mail from one of last week’s Chicago course students who said,
“That was definitely one of the very best training experiences I have had…”  So come join us.

The IAP2 Certificate course is also being offered in
these other U.S. locations in ’09:


Oakland, CA……………. February 23-27

Dallas, TX……………….. March 9-13

Austin, TX ………………April 20-24

Nashville, TN…………..April 27-May 1

Los Angeles, CA……….May 4-8

Houston, TX…………….May 11-15

Columbus, OH………… June 1-5

Philadelphia, PA……… June 15-19

Boston, MA……………. July 13-17

Albany, NY………………August 10-14

St. Louis, MO…………..August 31-September 4

Ann Arbor, MI …………October 5-9

Orlando, FL……………..October 19-23

Charlotte, NC…………..November 2-6

This may be the best time to invest in yourself.

Posted in Past Mailings