Monday, June 28, 2010

The PR of Changing PMs

This past week has has been history making in Australian politics. In a late night party coup Kevin Rudd was dumped as Prime Minister and within 24 hours his deputy Julia Gillard became Australia's first female Prime Minister.

In public relations actions always speak louder than words, so it will be instructive to see the impact of these events in the minds and attitudes of ordinary citizens ... in the lead-up to the next election and beyond.

Most likely we will see self referential communications come into play.  For those who like Mr Rudd last week's events will be seen as dastardly and disloyal.  To those who support Ms  Gillard they will have been necessary actions to get the Government and Australia back on track. 

However the rest of us - the so called silent majority - may feel a little queasy about the way Mr Rudd met his fate.  Australians pride themselves on giving everyone a "fair go".  In the workplace or market place the treatment Mr Rudd received - instant dismissal - is usually  reserved for those who commit criminal offences or whose performance seriously endangers the safety of others.

In the long run and in public relations terms the "Rudd dismissal" may have more impact on shaping how people view the character of politicians than on any changes it causes in government.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Here Comes Everyone

I am half way through reading Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everyone.  This is a book well worth reading.  It was published two years ago and I'm uncertain if it achieved best seller status but neither fact detracts from its significance.

The book is about how social media empowers people to self organise around their issues and interests.  

In tightly argued prose it asserts that social media has collapsed the costs of communication and created an entirely communication ecosystem which is as historically significant as when printing presses first replaced the medieval scribe.

Today social media have smashed the economics of communication and the entry fee to create, manage and create content is negligible for most of us.  This has allowed the mass amateurisation of communications particularly in the traditional media process. As it embeds in our culture social media has moved the news cycle away from  publishers and producers towards individual citizens, consumers and communities.  
The professional class of editors, producers, reporters, photographers and film crews are no longer the gatekeepers of the information that reaches our communities. We now have other ways to learn about our world.

Yes I can hear the old guard saying that so much of the information that passes through social media channels is inane and banal.  

But doesn't that reflect more on the quality of our conversations than the intrinsic value of these exciting new tools? Although they give us opportunity they are only as worthwhile as we make them.