Showing posts with label government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label government. Show all posts

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ban Politicans From Social Media And Content Marketing?

 Should we ban politicians from social media and content marketing for the sake of transparency?

I'm a content marketing fan.  But there are dangers when governments use content marketing to go direct to voters. It may be attractive for Ministers to craft content and use social media to release information, but essentially what they release is a formulaic, sanitized version of events.  

The core of the content marketing movement is directly engaging people of interest to you.  It is easy to see why that would appeal to bureaucracies.  It gives them a chance to control the message and avoid the spotlight traditional media might shine on their story. 

Social outlets are news sources for more and more Americans and Australians, and administrations frequently use them to go directly to the masses.  It may appear democratic to release information through social media but it is easier than standing before a hungry media pack asking pesky questions. 

Even if the pack reports what our leaders say, that information can be filtered and viciously edited for the evening news or tomorrow's paper. Social media and its cousin, content creation, let leaders meet people directly through digital chats, hang-outs, meet-ups and tweet ups.  

But remember these forums are imperfect platforms for ideas. A Government can choose not to answer questions or respond to comments and there is precious little time in such cyber sessions to question a President or Prime Minister.  And online questions can be vague and without the context and history a seasoned correspondent can throw around an issue. 

In Australia Tony Abbott uses Facebook and Twitter to broadcast policies more than to  interact with Australians.  Reading his Twitter account this past week you'd never know about the firestorm of protest over Tuesday night's budget. Yet traditional media - for all their faults - extensively reported the story. 

In the US the White House Correspondents Association have lodged concerns with the Obama Administration's use of digital to bypass news outlets and go direct to the public.  A recent edition of On The Media explored the issue in detail and it is worth a listen. 

Let's be cautious about proclaiming social media as a force for democracy even in Western societies.  In some cases it may mean governments have a communications channel that let's them control information while seeming to be open.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

Australian Media Five Years On

Malcolm Farr from News Limited
Question three respected Australian journalists about the future of Australian media and you'd be surprised how similar their views are.

IABC Canberra recently hosted a discussion with News Limited's Malcolm Farr, Karen Middleton from SBS and ABC Political Editor Greg Jennet.   The three Canberra Press Gallery veterans shared predictions about the media in the next five years, with communicators at the National Press Club.

The media landscape may be changing but all agreed newspapers will remain important and be influencing opinion well into the medium term.  Viewers will have less appetite for traditionally scheduled news bulletins and will press TV networks to deliver a great variety of news formats via their digital channels. And new technologies will allow Australians to self select information and build their own news pipelines.

ABC TV's Greg Jennett and SBS' Karen Middleton
Which means fresh challenges for PR professionals.  How do we reach our audiences when the media landscape is so fragmented and how do we judge success?

Farr, Middleton and Jennet were unanimous that tomorrow's reporters may use different technologies, yet their journalistic instinct to seek out information and hold institutions accountable will be as strong as ever.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Who Do Aussies Really Trust?

2014 Edelman Trust Barometer - Global Results from Edelman Insights

Trust is critical in content marketing or any other form of communications. The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer shows who people around the globe trust. 

The Australian results are interesting.  Overall there has been an increase in the trust levels of Australians over the past 12 months. Specifically trust in:
  • Not for profits is marginally up.
  • Trust in media is up six points.
  • Business has taken a 10 point leap in trust levels.
  • There is a higher level of trust in government.
Interestingly Australians trust business slightly more than they do governments. 
Globally people want CEOs to communicate in a clear and transparent fashion, tell the truth regardless of the situation and regularly engage with employees.  For a clear majority these behaviours count more than CEOs being active in the media.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Top UK Communicator Planning Canberra Visit

IABC is working to bring Russell Grossman to Canberra
 It's tough times ahead for content marketers in Australia's Public Sector

Four months into office and the Abbott Government is scrutinizing staffing levels across the public sector in a bid to cut government expenditure.  

That means bad news for government communicators of all persuasions as well as other staff.  Facing the Treasury scalpel Departmental leaders will be looking at ways to trim the ranks of employees, motivate the teams that survive and and exhorting bureaucrats to do more with less.

That's a tough task for executives at all levels.  In the coming months cool-headed, strategic management and internal communications will be at a premium across the Capital.

Top UK communicator Russell Grossman is someone familiar with engaging and motivating public sector staff in times of change. And he is certainly worth listening to.  A polished speaker, he currently leads a UK Government program to strengthen internal communications for the 440,000 staff who work in the UK Civil Service and Government bodies. He is also the Director of Communications at the UK’s Department for Business and a former Head of BBC Internal Communications.

Grossman is planning a visit to the National Capital in early March to share insights with his Canberra colleagues. 

He will most likely talk on ground breaking UK research on employee engagement and how the UK Civil Service is embedding an engagement mentality among its staff for competitive advantage.  He has also been asked to reveal UK Government efforts to improve the performance of Whitehall communications teams, strengthen communications as a profession within government and move bureaucratic thinking from ‘press release by default’ to ‘digital by default’.

The Canberra Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators is finalising arrangements for Grossman's visit. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Strut Your Stuff Gold Quill Style

Last year Canberra communicators created some outstanding content marketing campaigns so how should we recognise that Aussie excellence?  

It's time to enter the IABC’s 2014 Gold Quill Awards which celebrate the best of the best communications and marketing practices from around the world. Entering the Awards can bring international acclaim to a local campaign success.   

Winning a Gold Quill boosts your resume, earns global recognition for your team and is a source of personal pride in your accomplishments.

Entries close on 10 March 2014 so start today by visiting IABC.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Abbott Ranks # 26 on Twitter's Leader Board

The December 2013 report of the Digital Policy Council shows 123 out 164 countries or three out of four heads of state have now embraced Twitter.

The biggest mover in the Twittersphere was US President Obama.  He occupies # 1 spot and gained 16 million followers this past year.  This pushed the number of people who follow him north of 40 million. 

Starting with the 2008 Presidential Election Obama has always been comfortable with social media but a noticeable upturn in his numbers occurred when the US Government shut down in September 2013.  Obama joined other politicians and citizens to tweet his frustrations about the situation.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) made the most spectacular debut onto the Twitter stage. SBY only joined Twitter in 2013 but 4.2 million followers quickly followed him. 

The Indonesian leader is a quick leaner. 
 He strategically took to Twitter to chastise Australia over allegations the Australian Government spied on Indonesian officials.

The Australian Prime Minister comes in at # 26 in the global Twitter rankings, a drop from his # 20 ranking the previous year.  Abbott has been tweeting since November 2011 and has 270 000+ followers. The PM is an infrequent tweeter.  Recent posts serve up mainly feel good content with little apparent effort to interact with others or converse on issues.

Still our PM is streets ahead of leaders from China, Denmark, Sweden and some Gulf countries who are yet to get on to the micro blogging platform.

While the adoption rate among some world leaders may have slowed, the number of people following political leaders continues to grow.  In 2013 83 million people  followed a world leader up from 10 million people just three years ago.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Volunteering Is An Career Saver In Tough Times

Volunteering is a valuable survival tactic for PRs

 The outlook seems grim for  Canberra communicators faced with the MOG - the Machinery of Government.  Those are  the changes that kick in when governments in Australia change.

The incoming Abbott government has tighter than tight media arrangements. New ministers are reluctant to promote policies and the national security mantra is closing down discussion on key issues.  

If there is space or appetite for proactive communications in the Commonwealth, it's hard to spot looking in from the outside. 

And with big decisions on hold, communicators nervously wait to see if their jobs will be chopped.  

It is not a good time to be a PR professional in government right now.  Particularly if you are someone open to learning new skills, expanding your horizons and advancing your career.

One way to retain your edge amidst all this uncertainty is to get back in the game and offer your PR skills to one of Canberra's many not for profits. Local charities and community groups are always hungry for PR support and highly appreciative when someone steps forward to offer their services.

If the Commission of Audit targets your job and you are find yourself unemployed in the next few months you can confront fairly distressing circumstances. I know.  I have been out of work four times spanning a 22-year PR career, starting with when the Howard Government came to power in 1996.  I have seen the jobless movie too many times and it's not fun to sit through.

I also know that volunteering your skills to the community sector is a lifeline strategy that can keep you professionally engaged.  Volunteering your talents to people who normally could not afford them can be a strategy to keeping you in meaningful - if unpaid - work, continuing your craft and feeling valued. 

Perhaps you have a job but are on a career path that seemingly leads nowhere.  Your agency may pay you but that does not appreciate you.  Even though you are keen to try new things, you never get the chance.  Out of work or out-of-rewarding work situations can be stressful for communicators of any grade because as a group we are upbeat, positive people hell bent on achieving results.  

Not for profit volunteering can be one way to change the chemistry in your situation or expand your skills set.  Not for profits always have the welcome mat out for communicators and are willing laboratories to practice and improve your skills.  Any PR effort will always be  a big plus for them.  

Contact Volunteering ACT for ideas on how to begin your personal PR change through volunteering. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Global Chief Forecasts Communications Trends

Don't try to control the conversation, be prepared for never ending PR campaigns and acknowledge the  consumer is king.

That's what IABC Global Chair Robin McCasland advises leaders confronted by an ever-changing communications landscape.  

During her recent leadership tour of Asia, Robin briefed government communications chiefs in Canberra on trends in international communications. 

Speaking in a government town a few of Robin's observations run counter to traditional government models.  

For example while surveys routinely show public trust in government and corporate leaders is falling, administrations still put forward only the top echelons of officialdom who it comes to advocating policy to the public. 

Robin forecasts that in future, smart organisations will empower their employees to share the communications load and deal directly with citizens, consumers or clients particularly through social media.   Workers already know the issues and are the buffer between the community and their own hierarchy.  The time is coming when clever leaders will look at  workers not only for what they do, but how they can evangelise the corporate brand. 

The Global Chair also touched on the growing importance of peer opinions in decision-making, illustrating this with a personal example. When an  online dress buying experience turned sour, Robin took to social media to alert her friends to her dissatisfaction   Someone with Robin's global profile must have significant networks, so after the offending company learned of her displeasure they were quick to fix the problem.  
Which proves that while communicators can labour long and hard to present a persuasive case, often it's the conversations we have within our own circle that really decide how we act and the results we get. 



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Did This Blog Change Government Policy?

On Thursday I blogged on why Australian military officers should not be part of Government media conferences on Asylum Seeker operations.

Yesterday the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced changes to these weekly briefings.  These foreshadow a much more limited role for the  ADF spokesperson, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell.

Did my blogging cause a shift in the new Government's media arrangement?  Hardly!!!

My concerns were but one voice in a growing chorus of condemnation and frustration from traditional and online media about the way the new Coalition Government is so tightly managing information on Asylum Seeker matters. 

Along with other veterans who now work in PR, I'm pleased the Government has restricted the ADF's media profile.  Having said that, the communications strategy behind the "stop the boats" policy still needs a major overhaul.

As much as the Government tries to curb the flow of information by referring to operational security, people interested in the issue will skirt around tight Ministerial policies to get information somehow. They might seek it from from the Indonesian Government and other sources, concerned citizens letting the rest of us know what's happening on  Christmas Island, Manus or Nauru, or welfare groups across the country alerting the public to the ongoing plight of refugees. At this stage all seem willing to talk through mainstream and social media.

Government media mangers, no matter how shrewd, cannot contain news of Asylum Seeker issues.  The issue is too enormous, contentious and ongoing not to find a way to make it to the surface.

This is a story that won't be stopped, so watch this space for more changes to the Abbott's Government communications management of this issue.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Australian Government Use of Social Media

My colleague Craig Thomler recently talked to IABC Canberra about how the Australian Government is using social media.  

Despite challenges, Craig gave government agencies a tick of approval.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Little Marketing in People Smuggler Campaign

Pity the Government marketers saddled with an expensive mass media campaign to reach such very small numbers. 

They must be scratching their heads and cursing the backroom operatives who dreamed up this campaign to 'win votes rather than stop boats' 

For several weeks ads like this have been appearing in Australian newspapers and broadcast on radio.

They support a recent change to the Australian Government's asylum seeker policies.  From 20 July unauthorised boat arrivals will no longer be settled in Australia but sent to Papua New Guinea or Nauru where their refugee claims will be determined.

Fierce criticism has sprung up about the ads in recent days. The Opposition claims they breach Election caretaker conventions which stipulate what governments can and cannot do once a poll is called.  

Bipartisan agreement is needed when communications campaigns run during an Election period. And in this case there is no such agreement.

The people smuggling ad spend is rumored is be around $30m, a hefty sum for the cash strapped government agency managing this campaign and which has probably struggled all year with its marketing budget.  

There is no issue with ads targeted at environments likely to reach people smugglers overseas or their collaborators in Australia.  I would have thought these audiences are tiny, and already known to the Intelligence services - or at least they should be. 

But how many people smugglers or their accomplices live, for example in Canberra or Sydney, where full page ads are regularly appearing in the metropolitan press. 

Why spend tens of millions of dollars for a mass audience campaign to reach a small handful of people here in Australia and overseas?  The Commonwealth must have other, far less expensive communications tools to send a stern message to these criminal elements?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rudd and Abbott Use Social Media For Election. 7 Things to Watch

We're off and running to the ballot box.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set 7 September as the date for Australians to go to the polls to choose a new government.

In the 2007 and 2010 elections social media was seen as something of a novelty. That makes 2013 Australia's first real social media poll because Australians are now terminally addicted to social through devices, phones, laptop and desktops.  In fact there has never been a more connected and potentially better informed electorate than today's voters.

Preparing for the upcoming battle the Labor Party recently hired three top American social media types who worked on the 2012 Obama campaign.  You'll recall that campaign set the gold standard for politics and social media.

So as we start the Election trail, how do the chief contenders rate on social media?

PM Rudd starts with a well established social media presence.   He's been in that space a long time. He has 1.3 million followers on Twitter and tweeted over 9500 times.  On Facebook he has almost 94 000 likes.  That's impressive, and the tone and level of his conversations on both platforms shows Rudd is comfortable with new media.

Mr Abbott starts the Election campaign with only 148 000 Twitter followers and 1350 tweets. His Facebook following of around 39 000 fans is almost one third of Rudd's numbers. In comparison Abbot's social conversations come across as more formal than Rudd's dialogue and at this stage Abbott does not show much online interaction with others. Still it is early days!

Interestingly both Labor and Liberal Parties have similar numbers of Youtube subscribers (around 3500 each).  This is likely to grow with many predicting Youtube will be where it all happens as the parties turn negative as they invariably do during Australian elections. 

Over the next five weeks it will interesting to see how both contenders adapt and adjust to social media.  

So keep a mouse ready and eye out to see how the two candidates use these new channels in their bids to win high office.  

Among the things that would indicate the candidates are serious about social, are their:
  • Frequency of using social media to get their Election messages out.
  • Level of interaction with followers and fans or do they stick with one way conversation?
  • Cross linking to others' commentary such as media and third party endorsements to portray credibility.
  • Ability to persuade voters to donate money or volunteer their time.
  • Use of imagery to bring emotion into messaging and cut through the clutter.
  • Willingness to bypass traditional media and use social to break news.
  • Capacity to inspire others to produce and share favourable content.

...and of course look out for novel or unusual online tactics as the campaign unfolds.
It is interesting times ahead.  So in the coming weeks check your screens for what could well be Australia's first social media election campaign.

Monday, May 20, 2013

One of World's Toughest Regulators Ticks Social Media

In April 2013 the US Securities and Exchange Commission  (SEC) ruled companies trading on the US Stock Exchange can post investor information on social media.

That's a major tick for social media channels as  "perfectly suitable methods for communicating with investors."  

Noting the rate at which information flows through Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, the SEC cautioned companies to give investors adequate notice of when and how they plan to use social media when releasing information.  

 In a survey of 120 financial types the online publication, Bulldog Reporter, found 60% to 70% of all investors say they use traditional sources of investment information (press releases, newspapers, analyst reports.) 

People under 40 are the most likely group to check company information  on social media. 

The US stock market operates in a highly litigious environment and the SEC oversees highly regulated, multi-billion dollar transactions every trading day. 

The ruling should encourage Australian governments wrestling with what information is suitable for their own online accounts. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

State of Social Media in the Australian Public Service

This is a summary of a presentation by author and academic Greg Jericho on the state of social media in the Australian Public Service.  Given to a Canberra IABC on 29 April 2013.  Good insights.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Key Message Is Dead: Hail Content Marketing

There is fat chance anyone is listening to your carefully crafted,
committee approved, centrally delivered key messages.  

A friend recently asked me "isn't content marketing what we've always done?"

In a way she's right.  Communicators have long practiced elements of content marketing -  messaging, knowing audiences, distributing information etc.   The difference now is social media,the mega paradigm-buster.

Social media has accelerated information delivery to breakneck speed. Everyone potentially has a publishing platform for their opinions, and all of us can precisely choose what information we let into our lives and what we block.

No one is dependent on what you say.  We are outrageously spoiled for choice when it comes to information and we can choose where we get it, when and how.

Let's say your company, not for profit or agency tells me something.  Instantly I can go online to check its accuracy or access a staggering volume of contending data, commentary or analysis.  Many hierarchical organisations particularly government bodies still find it difficult to accept that the logo on your letterhead adds little authority to their arguments. 

You can longer claim sole expertise based on who you are.  Google has made all of us experts ... or at least let us think we are.

There is a fundamental difference between old style PR and content marketing.  And it is this: unless we are prepared to provide audiences with information that is helpful, entertaining or both, we stand little chance of connecting with, let alone persuading them. 

The era of the one-way key message blasted from the hierarchical bunker is dead.  Perhaps it served us well in the past.  But today people want dialogue not monologue.  There is fat chance anyone is listening to your carefully crafted, committee approved, centrally delivered key messages.  

Listening, continuously offering valuable insights helping those we need to reach, shared conversation and letting others own your topic hold today's keys to successfully reaching customers, clients and citizens. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How To Succeed In Change Management

Changing behaviour in organisations is one of the toughest challenges communicators face. IABC Canberra presenter Tina Chawner recently offered insights on the subject based on her UK experiences.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 2012 is 21st Century Statecraft Month

Led by Secretary Hillary Clinton, the US State Department has invested heavily in social media and moved it front and centre into its diplomatic outreach.  

The US State Department has over 190 social media accounts with more than half owned by individual embassies. The State department also uses Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and YouTube.

It has designated January 2012 as 21st Century Statecraft month.

Twenty-first Century Statecraft complements traditional foreign policy by harnessing and adapting today's digital networks and technologies.

State's efforts are comprehensive and impressive. Read more at Leveraging the Tools of 21st Century Statecraft | U.S. Department of State Blog

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Wikileaks Winners ... So Far

Wikileak disclosures of US State Department cables dating back to the mid 1960s have dominated international news in recent weeks. 

As Governments around the world grapple with containing the damage from these revelations, there has been a slow build-up of public support for Wikileaks and its right to publish almost a quarter of a million leaked million cables. 

At this point it is hard to see who will emerge as victors in this battle for Internet control - if indeed anyone will. Certainly the US State Department and America's security officials must feel profoundly angry as Wikileaks continues to drip feed cables onto the Internet. Senior government officials from other countries in regular contact with US diplomats must be anxious as they peek inside their morning newspapers to see if they are featured in the latest disclosures.  

Julian Assange and his cronies are hardly winners at this stage.  Assange sits in a UK jail, awaiting extradition to Sweden and you can bet  intelligence efforts are full pace to hunt down those continuing to run the whistle blowing website.

The biggest winners may turn out to be those in government who were  always opposed to or nervous about the concept of Gov2.0.  The movement advocating greater government transparency through new digital media must surely have been battered in recent weeks.  Critics will now point to the Wikileaks' affair and say I told you so.   And they are likely to be supported by security agencies and nervous politicians anxious to avoid similar embarrassment in future.

The other winners are newspapers and they must be laughing. The leaked cables provide them with a flood of ready made stories and compelling content, and no-one is questioning their right to publish it.  

It seems government plans for social media have just hit the rock wall of national security in the most spectacular fashion and newspapers are back in business.

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.