The Making of a Trade Association
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

The Making of a Trade Association

The ultimate goal of any new trade association is to become known as an “authority” on a given subject and to create opportunities to noticeably articulate the viewpoints of its members. That’s no easy task, given the intense competition for attention in

Paul Holmes

The ultimate goal of any new trade association is to become known as an “authority” on a given subject and to create opportunities to noticeably articulate the viewpoints of its members.  That’s no easy task, given the intense competition for attention in the media today.  But the Digital Media Association (DiMA)  – with the help of Brodeur Worldwide – accomplished just that.  In short time, DiMA and its leadership became a key voice in the much-watched debate over digital copyright.  And it’s for this reason that we believe Brodeur Worldwide and DiMA are worthy of a Gold and Silver SABRE Award.


DiMA represents more than 75 companies that develop, deploy and support digital technologies to perform, promote, distribute and protect music and video over the Internet and other digital networks. 

DiMA approached Brodeur Worldwide in April, 2000 seeking a communications strategy to support the group’s filing of a petition to the U.S. Copyright Office.  The petition sought to gain parity for Webcasters -- in their treatment under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) – with traditional broadcasters.  The issue involved arcane legal strategies affecting many different types of business interests, including the major record labels, powerful media conglomerates and entrenched special interests groups in Washington, D.C.  With the petition Brodeur found an opportunity to position Jonathan Potter, Executive Director of DiMA, as “the” authority on digital media and entertainment in the policy debate in Washington, D.C. and outside the Beltway.  Having a powerful spokesperson representing the interests of member companies proved vitally important to DiMA, given the ongoing controversy over Napster and other file sharing technologies.

DiMA was a small organization pitted against some of the largest and most powerful trade groups in Washington (Recording Industry Association of America, Motion Picture Association of America, National Association of Broadcasters, etc.).

Their issues were complicated, combining the minutia of copyright law and emerging digital media technologies.

Less than two years old, DiMA had no infrastructure and no dedicated administrative staff.

DiMA needed to have the voice of legitimate Webcasters rise above the more controversial actions of Napster and

DiMA lacked visibility – both in Washington among policy circles and in the industry among emerging tech companies. 

Brodeur’s objectives were to make DiMA a major player, increase visibility and to become THE voice of the digital media industry.


Brodeur worked with DiMA to optimize its Web presence and develop a media strategy based heavily on news trends related to Napster and  The initial filing of the petition with the U.S. Copyright Office was an opportunity to bring an arcane legal story to life.  Rather than go to the consumer press, Brodeur reached out to a friendly audience at Legal Times – a locally published but nationally read biweekly publication on law and public policy.  The result was a feature story that positioned DiMA’s Jonathan Potter as the “new kid on the block,” providing a voice for a new technology policy focus in Washington. The significance of this feature story in Washington policy circles was colossal – as Potter’s photo was set against that of the esteemed and very well known DC lobbyist, Jack Valenti of the MPAA.  Many other outlets used the Legal Times story as the basis for coming to Potter as a “credible source” within the digital entertainment industry.

Once Brodeur established DiMA’s credentials as the trade association in D.C. for digital media, Brodeur worked with DiMA and its research partner, Yankelovich Partners of Norwalk, CT, to generate news based on market research. The strategy from this point out was simple, yet daunting.  DiMA needed to be everywhere.  DiMA and Brodeur needed to be vigilant of what the media, Washington influencers and policy makers were saying about issues effecting Webcasters – and then educate the masses about DiMA’s side of the story.

When news coverage and policy discussions simultaneously condemned and praised Napster and, DiMA had to publicly represent its members – legitimate businesses like AOL’s and MTVi’s Sonicnet – and support the rights of creators (artists) to be paid for their art.  At the same time, DiMA had to show support for consumer rights to obtain entertainment through new technologies.  When the government reviewed the copyright law within the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, DiMA had to aggressively exhibit how the current environment adversely impacted its members.  And when political opponents mislabeled DiMA’s members and its members’ users as “pirates,” the only trade association inside the Beltway that represented the interests of digital entertainment needed to be vocal in its defense of the millions of Americans that listen to music in legal ways via the Web. 

This strategy was put to test on June 15, 2000.  Keying off a contentious hearing in the House of Representatives during the 106th Congress, Brodeur used a reporter’s briefing and exclusive strategy with Anna Mathews of The Wall Street Journal to promote the results of the “first ever” Web music survey.  The story was carried in virtually every major national print and electronic news channel.  Potter did live spots on the Silicon Valley Webcasted CNET Radio and CNNfn’s “Digital Jam”.  Coverage on the study and DiMA’s testimony during the hearing made its way as far as Europe and Canada.  The Industry Standard even went so far as to author a commentary on whether “surveys” like DiMA’s should garner the media interest it did.  

After the June 15 Capitol Hill activity, the strategy became focused on capitalizing on a series of Federal hearings within the U.S. Senate and later within the Library of Congress during joint hearings between the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Copyright Office.  Using the reporter’s briefing formula, Brodeur encouraged and enabled Potter and DiMA members to blitz the press whenever possible to preach their gospel.  When Potter was in New York, the West Coast, or in any city where media had a tech focus or a tech audience – DiMA’s message was heard.  


By the end of 2000, Jonathan Potter was a regular on CNET Radio and had appeared several times on CNNfn’s “Digital Jam”.  On top of that – Potter became a critical industry source for media outlets like the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the LA Times, Reuters, Bloomberg and the San Jose Mercury News.  When it was time to visit the industry analysts in New York and Boston, Potter’s dance card was full.  Capitol Hill even found it hard to ignore DiMA, which had an entire panel of its members testify for the U.S. Copyright Office’s public hearings on the DMCA in the late Fall of 2000.
In less than six months, DiMA and Jonathan Potter became a regular source of information for almost every major national journalist covering digital media.  In Washington, D.C., DiMA became “the credible source” for policy and market developments.  This was not lost on those companies in the Webcasting business.  In the six months since DiMA and Brodeur Worldwide teamed up, DiMA membership has increased from fewer than 40 to 75 members.  In 2001, DiMA is well poised to actively lobby Capitol Hill representing its 75 digital members that have changed the way we all enjoy entertainment on the Web.

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