Turning off the lights

28 Jan

Apparently Egypt has turned off all internet connectivity within its borders. This has some pretty far-reaching connotations for everyone.

As you can see from this Mashable post, much like in Iran during the Green Revolution (although, to be fair, the information within Iran was so diluted by external messages there are questions surrounding social media’s ultimate effectiveness in that case), the protesters are organising  via digital means. Hence why the Government has apparently shut it down.

But what happens now that internet access has gone down? What happens to the protest organisation?

And could it happen in Western Democracies if there was civil unrest. Right now, UK Union leaders are meeting to discuss the possibility of General strikes in the UK to protest the Tory-led cuts. After seeing how students organised themselves during the protests last year, would the circumstance ever arise that the Government would shut down digital communications? Probably not, simply because the economy relies on the net so much these days, especially the city. But it means the possibility is still there.

I’d have to ask a technician, but would it be possible to shut down certain areas, in-particular wireless or 3g capabilities?

But consider this, Iran was never able to disconnect the net, nor has China completely stopped information seeping through. Like the 4 minute mile, once someone has done it, will everyone learn how?


Do your research!!!

19 Jan

I saw this piece on Huffington Post recently regarding a huge error surrounding a Minnesota anti-drink driving advertisement. Essentially, it is all about having a designated driver to drive you home after a night out. It uses the emotional language surrounding a best friend, which is signified by a guy’s trusty steed. That’s all nice and fuzzy, except this is a case where a marketing team was given a concept, fed back an idea and then someone thought “that’s a nice ” and it went into production, but no one did any research.

Now the drama surrounding the ad is that, apparently, according to Minnesota law, it isn’t illegal to ride a horse while drunk. So now there is an issue of people thinking “well, according to the ad, I can ride home after a big night out.”

Nice one.

I’m currently reading a book by Chris Rose called How to Win Campaigns – 100 steps to success. Rose is a senior former Greenpeace campaigner and is now a leading thinker regarding NGO campaigning. In his book, he gives significant time to the importance of researching a campaign and campaign messaging – something which you would think is pretty much a given, but obviously isn’t put into practice all of the time.

Essentially, a succesful campaign is a long-term, structured and strategised programme and all communications have to be structured and strategised as well. That includes research. I don’t know if this utilised an external agency, but if it did, someone somewhere should have been checking the details behind the concept.

I had lunch here a week and a half ago and now it is underwater #qldflood

12 Jan


Social media and the Queensland floods

11 Jan


This is probably one of the most awesome displays of mother nature I have ever seen. I know Toowoomba reasonably well, so it is a bit crazy seeing this all happen. My home of Brisbane is apparently next because all of these flooded rivers head towards the Brisbane River.

Apparently Brisbane will be hit tomorrow.

But it is an interesting use of social media in Queensland. The Govermnet twitter feeds and facebook sties are putting out regular alerts, as are the news stations. Pictures are being posted on flikr and facebook and videos are clearly going up on youtube. There is live streaming online andpaywalls are coming down to ensure people get all the warning they can

The public are being alerted informed like never before and thank god for that.


Communications is the key to political success

10 Jan

I’ve just finished All that’s left – What Labor should stand for, which is a reasonably interesting read looking at the future of the Australian (and in the process global) Labour momevements. It a philasophical look of where we on the left are, where we’ve come from, and where we have to go to ensure social justive and the future of social democracy. There was some interesting articles in there,  but there is a gaping chasm that we on the left we seem never to fill and it is one of my greatest irks.

Where is the section about selling ideas to the public? There is plenty about how the labour movement needs to increase social engagement and that government should be out to help the people, but there is nothing so far as to how to sell it to the public. There is a section on getting trust back into politics, but that isn’t quite the same.

Kevin Rudd made a number of mistakes, some big, some small, but I still believe his biggest one and the err that ultimatly led to his downfall, was the cutting of department communications budgets. When I was looking for a job when I got back to Australia, a public affairs recruitment agent told me that when Rudd got into power departmental communications and marketing positions dried up. This got me thinking, how much did this have to do with his downfall and I figure a lot.

Put it this way. This was a time where a new Government with a relativly progressive agenda wanted to sell in grand new ideas and new ways of doing things. But there was no one to sell it. Communications budgets were cut, so the advertising was left to the Prime Ministers’ office and the cabinet members’ press officers and they couldn’t do it. Not because they weren’t talented enough, but there wasn’t enough time in the day to package it and get it out there. That made it look like they couldn’t engage with the public.

You could also probably guarantee that the communications teams weren’t included in concept planning from day one either. Its important for a comms plan to be included in planning right from day one, so pit falls and wins can be planned out right from the begining.

The CPRS and the Mining Super Profits Tax are two examples where poor comms planning completely blew up in the ALP’s faces. In the case of the CPRS, the Government was trumped by the Opposition having a) not being able to sell the concept to the public b)  not being able to forsee the right wing views that took over in the Opposition and c) Abbott had a catchier line with “a great big new tax”, which is devilishly brilliant. The great big new tax is also an example of  sometimes the left needs to get down and fight with conservatives  in the dirt and throw some mud. That’s where they fight and to match them, we have to do. One person on the the left who did do this succesfully was Alastair Campbell (you know I had to chuck that in somewhere).

But still, despite all of this, the book doesn’t even list communications as an important issue. Reengaging with the community and the public is vital. Sometimes we talk to the public, not talk with and we wonder why they don’t hear us.

Alternative vote – alternative campaign ideas

9 Jan

The Independent has got some high-profile marketeers together to mock-up some posters on behalf of the yes and no camps.

There are some pretty interesting and exciting examples and I’m sure there are quite a few that the different sides would have liked to have come up with themselves.

In particular, I like the “Vote for Change? Apparently Not” and the “No MP’s seat should  be safe”.

Both give a clear message to a complicated issue. The Winston Churchill poster is good, but as you can see from Sunder Kawala’s post, there are a few historical issues, but I don’t know if the public would recognise these. I also see his point that the vote for change poster would never be branded Lib-Dem, but there is nothing to say the Yes Campaign couldn’t attack Cameron, much as the No campaign could attack Clegg. In fact, if they don’t I’d be surprised – coalition or not.

The other posters are too complicated I feel. I think, if a member of the public has to think about an ad, it isn’t a good one.

I do give a well done for trying award to the “don’t waste your vote” poster, but I think the lines should be swapped around. The statement surrounding wasting your vote should be on top with bigger writing to go with the image and perhaps the line saying shouldn’t every vote count should be embedded on the side.

Progressive Campaigning – the re-launch!

9 Jan

You may have noticed I have changed the focus, look and feel of the site this morning. This is part of my 2010 aim to get back into blogging. I was looking at my posts and the old naff name didn’t go anywhere near capturing the theme that had started to appear.

I am a progressive PR, comms strategist and campaigner and that is where my interests and skills lie. Occasionally I typed out a piece that wasn’t comms based (and I still will), but I thought I should refocus the blog to talk about what I know and what I’m good at. I think this way, I’ll be able to enjoy it more and will be able to incorporate pieces from my normal life – which ensures I’ll blog more.

So, I hope you enjoy the feel of the new site and I look forward to your comments.