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Welcome, Prime Minister. Now, please engage.

Welcome, Prime Minister. Now, please engage.

Stilgherrian has posted an hilarious and well-considered welcome message to the Prime Minister who joined Twitter today.

welcome.jpgI hope both he (@kevinruddpm) and the Opposition Leader (@turnbullmalcolm) , who’s been on Twitter a month or so now bother to read it and then move on to Mark Pesce’s material. I couldn’t agree with Stil more.

Malcolm Turnbull looks to be starting to get the use of Twitter, although he’s not nearly as responsive as I’d like. The PM has a lot of work ahead of him in both catching up and dropping the facade of control freak to really, honestly engage with the Australian public. If the effort is focussed on pushing messages, this will blow up spectacularly in his face. And the backlash from the Twitterati will be harsh, swift and public.

Twitter is strange, beautiful, open, intrusive, inclusive, welcoming, real, human and much more. The Hollowmen don’t get that (my brief time in a Minister’s office long ago was literally, terrifying, as they are much nastier and more cynical than TV depicts). They need to be ignored as often as possible by the PM if his foray into the world of Twitter is to work.

And the interaction needs to be the PM, not any of his mouthpieces or handlers. If the latter is the case, then the handle being used is all wrong and the approach needs reconsideration.

In the meantime, as a resident of the national capital, some-time consultant to the government, citizen passionate about Government 2.0 and a social media strategist, I’m intensely fascinated to know who’s advising the people on the Hill about all this communication and engagement, because frankly, I have no clue who it might be. Last time I contacted a politician (at the last Federal Election) and offered my expertise in online engagement, I was told “not interested” by both sides of the fence.

How quickly things change.

As a side note, the issue of who is behind these efforts and who has put them together is an interesting question. KevinPM is demonstrably a party political effort and not representative of the government of the day. If it was, the use of pm.gov.au would have been appropriate, and could have been done as the UK government does with number10.gov.uk. The general feel of KevinPM and Number10 is similar – indeed, if KevinPM wasn’t significantly influenced by Number10 efforts as a whole, I’d be surprised.

However, if public servants have been railroaded into working on KevinPM, this represents a serious breach of the law. I’m not saying it has been done, but I would like to know.

Stephen Collins
No Comments
  • Paull Young
    Posted at 07:57h, 13 November Reply

    You’re right mate – the first thing I thought when I saw kevinpm.com.au was that it looked like Downing Street, just not executed quite as well.

    I have a different POV on Twitter though. I don’t think there’s any need for Kevin to be there at all.

    Twitter works because of personal connection, and if you can’t do it properly then why bother? Sure Kevin could learn to tweet and invest some time there… but surely he has better things to do with his time than tweet – he is our bloody PM!

    On top of that – what would we think about our PM using his extremely valuable time to communicate directly with just a few hundred of our 21 million citizens? Add into that the people he’s talking too are all on the lucky side of the digital divide, and I’d hazard a guess are more educated and earning a bunch more money than the average…

    Just ’cause Malcolm’s there doesn’t mean Kev has to be!

  • Stilgherrian · OMFG! Kevin Rudd tweeted again!
    Posted at 09:31h, 13 November Reply

    […] Bonus Link: The mild-mannered Stephen Collins has unleashed his own super-powers to write Welcome Prime Minister. Now please engage. […]

  • Stuart French
    Posted at 10:42h, 13 November Reply

    “If the effort is focussed on pushing messages, this will blow up spectacularly in his face. And the backlash from the Twitterati will be harsh, swift and public.”

    Hmm. Good article Stephen, but I’m not so sure I totally agree with this statement. Stil visualised 400 people turning their chairs to listen yesterday when the PM joined Twitter. I more think their will be a few tweets and a blog post or two if things don’t turn out well, but in reality I think those people will just turn their chairs away with a sense of opportunity lost.

    I see much less downside to his giving twitter a go and I don’t have a problem with a few minions backing him up strategy wise when he wants to use twitter to quickly gauge feedback on an idea or issue. I imagine twitter could play a small part in this interactive crowd-ideation process.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Stephen Collins
    Posted at 11:19h, 13 November Reply

    @Stuart not certain I agree. The media traction regarding the Internet Censorship proposal is at least in part attributable to the online voices being raised. In the same way, I can see parts of the media being very interested in failed attempts by high profile politicians to engage online.

  • Stuart French
    Posted at 13:34h, 13 November Reply

    Thanks @Trib.

    I’m not a politician and maybe I’m naive when it comes to the media. I also know that a lot of the public doesn’t share my scepticism of everything they read and see so politicians do need to heed the media’s baleful gaze.

    But if you were right, then surely by now we would have seen a Today-Tonight report on “the terrible risks Mr Turnbull took in walking his dogs over not 5, not 6, but 7 bridges!” 🙂

  • Gary Barber
    Posted at 12:43h, 15 November Reply

    Given the subject matter of the current tweets of the @kevinruddPM twitter account. I would say that it is being controlled by a PM staffer, with access to his schedule, I’m noting that the information isn’t going out until after the event or only if has been announced in the traditional media.

    The pure ego of the PR people is a concern with there lack of research especially on the noobishness that they could crash a twitter user account.

  • Craig Thomler
    Posted at 00:15h, 16 November Reply

    I’m still waiting for an answer from @KevinRuddPM as to whether it is the PM or a staffer. I’m most interested in whether the PM’s office are responding to Tweets at the moment, or simply using Twitter as a one-way channel.

    If they are it’s a shame – they are missing an opportunity to access another consultation channel.

    Of course, given the approval regime in government, posting any responses in a timely fashion could be a challenge.

    If not responding, I hope they will at least be listening – in that hope I’ve sent a few directs and replies the PMs way.

    Granted you get a certain demographic of users on Twitter, however if you want to know how the internet can best be used to support governance of Australia, ask the Net Natives, rather than a focus group out of the phone book.

  • Justin Barrie
    Posted at 15:28h, 17 November Reply

    Paull – I was lucky enough to be in the press gallery for the last two years of Keating and the first two years of Howard – all they do all day up there us hear from just a few hundred of the 21 mil 😉 Using Twitter might just lead to those few hundred not being paid lobbyists!

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