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June 2003   

History: Nest of Traitors
Rowan Cahill uncovers a ripping yarn that could redefine the way we look at Australian involvement in World War II.

Interview: A Nation of Hope
Former PM Bob Hawke bemoans the demise of industrial relations but takes heart from the prospect of peace in the Middle East

Unions: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on a soap star rebellion, Howardís plans to renuclearise South Australia, more historical atrocities in the north, the redundancy test case plus more in the monthly national wrap.

Safety: The Shocking Truth
Itís every power workerís worst nightmare Ė and it happened to Adrian Ware. In a flash of voltage, his life changed forever, as Jim Marr reports.

Tribute: A Comrade Departed
From Prime Ministers to wharfies, the labour movement paid tribute to Tas Bull this week. Jim Marr was among them.

History: Working Bees
Neale Towart looks at a group of workers who got sacked so their boss could keep making the Bomb.

Education: The Big Picture
The NTEUís Dr Mike Donaldson and Tony Brown join all the dots in the current debate around higher eduction.

International: Static Labour
Ray Marcelo argues thereís another side to the recent furore over Telstraís use of cheap Indian IT contractors.

Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Frank Stilwell argues that Peter Costelloís latest budget plumbs fiscal policy to new depths.

Technology: Google and Campaigning
Labourstartís Eric Lee argues the latest weapon for campaigning could be the humble search engine.

Review: Secretary With A Difference
Looking for a new job can be hard enough, without having to worry about sadomasochistic bosses and the threat of being spanked for forgetting to cross your Ďtís, says Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Minimale
The Labor Party leadership is in the news again, inspiring our resident bard David Peetz to song

Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
John Howard released a controversial policy statement today, arguing that the Senate be abolished in favour of a device measuring noise from the gallery of the House of Representatives.


Itís Our Party
Long time union watcher Nicholas Way looks at the changing dynamics between the industrial and political wings of the labour movement.

The Soapbox
Grass Roots
In his Maiden Speech, new MP Tony Burke argues that the ALPís union links are nothing to be ashamed of.

Opinion Forming Down Under
Evan Jones condemns the mainstreamís media coverage of the War on Iraq and the damage it is doing to our national psyche.

The Locker Room
Location, Re-Location!
Itís all fun and games until someone loses a club, writes Phil Doyle


To the Victors The Spoils
Revelations that private American lawyers, rather than the ILO, will rewrite the labour laws of countries levelled by the American military vindicate the warnings of those concerned by US unilateralism.


 Rail Chaos Looms

 Electrolux Blows Fuse at Fundraiser

 ACM Loosens Handcuff on Democracy

 Sick Call on Mumís Job

 Now For Industrial Shock and Awe

 Brian Miller Ė Working Class Hero

 Dynamite: Howard Handout for Rorters

 Family Case to Nurture Mothers

 Militants Lock Out Another 600

 Tipping the Turtle Ė Fijian Style

 Carr Goes Private

 Wages Blemish Sound Budget

 Westie Takes On Westfield ĎHypocrisyí

 Eleventh Hour Reprieve for Women's Centre

 Activist Notebook

 In Defence of Cuba
 The Story in General
 Thinking of America
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Google and Campaigning

Labourstartís Eric Lee argues the latest weapon for campaigning could be the humble search engine.


Those familiar with my work know I believe that the Internet has made campaigning much easier, cheaper, faster and more effective than ever before.

All of us who are connected to the net are by now aware of the many different ways in which unions and other progressives campaign -- by email, through websites, and so on.

But one of the less-well-known tools we have at our disposal -- and one which has proven very effective in LabourStart's own campaigning efforts -- is the search engine website known as 'Google'.

There was a time just a couple of years ago when hardly anyone had heard of Google. To show just how unknown Google was, when I discovered it and wrote a column about it for a trade union paper, the folks at Google were so happy about getting the plug that they sent me a t-shirt in the post.

That wouldn't happen today. Today Google is everywhere -- it is by far the most popular (and most effective) tool for finding things on the web.

Indeed, studies have shown that for many people unfamiliar with the net, they think that Google is the only way to actually reach a website. People type in either the name of the organization they are looking for (such as 'IWW' or 'LabourStart') and then click on the 'I'm feeling lucky' button to get to the site. They are apparently unaware of the address bar on the top of web browsers where most of us would type in the web address. Many others type in the actual web address (such as into Google's search engine in order to get to the site.

Google is everywhere -- and that means that if you want to reach people who are interested in a certain country or company, you can easily and cheaply reach them by using Google's AdWords program.

Here's an example. Last week I was in Canada and was asked by trade unionists from British Columbia to help launch an international campaign of protest against the right-wing, anti-union government there. (BC's government is so blatant in its violation of trade union rights that even the International Labour Organization has sat up and noticed.)

To publicize the campaign, we decided to place an ad on Google. The question was, which search term would be most effective. We tried 'British Columbia' and we tried 'Vancouver', but people searching for these terms weren't especially interested in the labour rights record of the provincial government.

Then someone remembered that the BC government was bidding to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. So we paid Google to show our ad to anyone searching for the term 'winter olympics'. The results were immediate. Thousands of people searching for this term saw an ad that read "BC violates labour rights - ILO finds Olympic bidder guilty. Demand fair play for BC workers." Clicking on the link brings readers directly to the campaign page on LabourStart where they can read more -- and send off their protests.

Imagine the embarrassment this is causing to the BC government. Everyone in the world who is looking for information about the Winter Olympics is learning just what kind of government is in power in that part of Canada. Which is, of course, the whole point.

Google ads can be set up in a few minutes, and the cost can be as low as five US cents for every time someone clicks on the ad. It's important to note that you pay only when someone clicks -- you don't pay for showing the ad. Google can show the ad a million times and if no one clicks, you pay nothing.

Obviously, it doesn't work that way. You need a certain minimum click-through rate or else Google will drop your ad.

And you can't say whatever you want. Google dropped ads put up by the 'No Sweat' campaigners in the UK against Puma because they broke Google's rules about 'defamatory' speech. (But they continued to run similar ads from LabourStart which for some obscure reason didn't appear to break any rules.)

I said that the ads were cheap. Here's how cheap: when LabourStart placed an ad based on the keyword 'SARS', it was shown 273,000 times. 1,785 people clicked on it, and visited our special web page about trade union reactions to the SARS epidemic around the world.

We paid Google $89.50. Is there any other form of advertising that allows you to reach a quarter of a million people for under $100 -- people who are searching for information that you might be providing? Probably not.

I just searched on the word 'wobbly' in Google and learned about an online labour radio service in Australia and a steakhouse in Vermont (both of which whet my appetite, though in different ways). But if the IWW websites were anywhere to be found, I didn't see them.

We're currently running a Colombia campaign on LabourStart protesting the killings of 130 trade unionists in that country in the last year. Go to Google and search for the term 'Colombia' and you'll see our ad. Even if you don't click through, you'll learn that Colombia leads the world in murders of trade unionists.

Google AdWords is an incredibly powerful tool for online campaigning. Unions should make more use of it.

This article was first published in Industrial Worker.


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