Wednesday, December 05, 2007

If we keep quiet it will go away - fat chance!

Glancing around the Labour blogging community such as Bloggers4Labour, or the sites of various luminaries, a lot are fairly dead. In fact the 'B4L' site was last updated during the Labour Conference (23rd Sept), Harriet Harman's blog was last used in October, but even the keenest of bloggers, such as Tom Watson, is saying very little about the problems Labour are facing or the potential solutions.

You would kind of think that some would make some form of comment. Perhaps in support of the idea of reforming party funding, making a statement on what could or should be done; perhaps even making comments in support of those implicated and attesting to their honesty. At the very least they could be talking about what is, fundamentally, a flaw at the heart of the democratic process: that parties need cash to fund an election campaign but they cannot always be principled in accepting or rejecting cash and maybe there are unavoidable strings.

But the silence is deathly. Is it too hot a potato? Are they waiting to see which side up the toast falls? Is there an edict 'blog thee not on matters of donations'? Or, perhaps more importantly, should there be more said from within the parties all of whom face a very real problem? It wont go away I feel, so is commenting more damaging than saying nothing, and instead blogging on the 'professional pilot's rumour network', just a thought: some things are better met head on! If you dont talk about it everyone else will and then they have control of the agenda.


Praguetory said...

Darren - this is the Labour Party culture, is it not? Putting a principled toe out of line is not taken lightly and is frequently career-ending. Just look at the 'successful' careers the likes of Hazel Blears, Caroline Flint and Douglas Alexander have built on little more than sycophancy.

In fairness, some Labour bloggers have taken the bull by the horns (e.g. Paul Burgin). Whilst it is of course disappointing that the likes of Tom Watson have nothing to say, I never expected anything more.

David Phillips said...

Social Media is a PR issue as is most of web activity. There has to be strategy behind activity and risk assessment up front - such as 'what if I stop blogging?'

We are now well beyond the experiment stage and there is no opt out for PR including political PR.

Online engagement has to include professional management and just thinking of PR in terms of 20th century narrow agentry is no longer an option. PR is a (senior) management activity as your post shows.

Humayun said...

I agree with David and Praguetory, blogging is a management function that senior people within an organisation should engage in.

However, if someone from the organisations i.e. Labour Party puts information that jeopardises the party then they will be axed.

Further to the above, I would like to add, even though PR cannot escape the jungle of the internet, it needs to embrace it and better understand the opportunities and risk it offers within a communication and management function.

Within a communication role, PR needs to develop ways that can enhance relationships with the audience. Traditionally, this was done by segmenting the 'publics', in an online environment this cannot be done. So you are going to get disagreements and people who do not agree with what you have to say or policy. So the only way to overcome this problem is by tackling the matter head on (as suggested by Darren), creating the opportunity to debate the matter.

This would allow the labour party to firstly, develop policy in conjunction with the people, enhancing the democratic process. But also, develop a policy that actually works and go through a scrutinising process.

Within the online landscape this would be known as 'interaction' and this is one of the major opportunities that the internet offers.

Secondly, as a management function, PR persons need to sell the idea of online communication. However, before this can be done, in my opinion more research needs to be done looking at the way the internet can be beneficial to the communication life style. The only way this can be done is by PR people becoming IT savvy, which, at the moment is not the case.