Posts tagged ‘bill newton-dunn’

Newton-Dunn proves trips to the EP in Strasbourg aren’t all bad

Sometimes we have to come down to Strasbourg for the European Parliament. And this month its unfortunately our turn on the FH roster. Thankfully there are some things that make it all worthwhile, other than revisiting pubs we passed far too much time in during our ERASMUS year. In between sitting through debates on the alleged evils of bio, sorry Claude, agro-fuels, we managed to have an interesting chinwag with one of the latest MEPs to enter the blogosphere for a chat about e-campaiging and the forthcoming elections; Bill Newton-Dunn of the UK’s Liberal Democrats.

There are lots of things to like about Bill. For one, he seems to be as addicted to his CrackBerry as we are. He also has started to post about the things that catch his attention and does so from a personal perspective. Today he was enthused by a bunch of doctors who wanted to inform him over lunch about organ harvesting in China (Bill, we await the promised post) and exudes a boyish enthusiasm for “issues” that restores one’s sometimes diminished faith in MEPs.

More importantly for this blog, Bill believes that the internet is the future for political campaigining at a European level. Hence the beginnings of his blog. Ok, so he admits that his biggest challenge is the ability to ignore his assistant’s demands to deal with urgent Committee issues and write the post that is buzzing around his head. But he does allow comments, unlike some on the PES side, and would clearly be stoked should anyone, including industry, want to engage in a debate with him online. (We can attest to his willingness in this regard, as the only reason we met him was because of a random email exchange about his blog). He also admits that he has a lot to learn about using the internet to reach out to voters, while recognising that the medium is perfect for cashstrapped and issue heavy European elections.

In any case, Bill’s clearly on the right path. A new website is being developed by a US based developer that he met through colleagues on the Hill. He promises that it’s going to take the best aspects from some of the presidential nominees sites in this primary season, while admitting that somewhat unfortunately for a LibDem he likes Republican Mike Huckabee’s site best. It’s great to find an MEP who has seen what’s happening on politics on the internet and is willing to give it a go. Even better that he wants to encourage others to follow him online.

P.S. Is it us or does the Strasbourg Hilton resemble a motorway service station?

April 23, 2008 at 12:36 am 2 comments

Stubb invites open season on toys

Alex Stubb MEP’s post of yesterday invites blog readers to comment on his initial thoughts on the newly proposed revision of the toys safety directive. Will any industry actors take the challenge on this most engaging of issues?

Three challenges for industry actors spring to mind:

1) Who will take responsibility for posting the comments?

The audience, an MEP, is clearly a government relations one. Yet the channel (online) is often under the remit of the corp. comms team, who have a different set of priorities and often won’t see the audience as one that merits attention.

While enlightened companies are increasingly joined up in their thinking (see our post on this), there are those who still believe public affairs is just good old one-on-one meetings and only that. Shame, really.

2)What will industry actors choose to say?

Clearly a post that consists of your position paper is not likely to endear you to the MEP or the blog’s readership. Save the position paper for the one-on-one meeting or the overflowing inbox of Mr. Stubb. In order to really use this communications channel to its full potential, all actors need to be honest about the interest they represent (as always), provide commentary or reflection on the issues raised by the blog’s author and be ready to engage in an open online debate.

3) Will industry be too scared to engage in an open debate on an MEP blog? 

The fear of open debate may prove to be the biggest barrier. Just imagine, a nasty NGO may make a comment in response.

A few thoughts to balance this quite rational fear. As long as the original comment from industry follows our advice in point 2, we think that you will win brownie points from the MEP for being both open (see Brussels transparency debate) and for commenting (which blogger doesn’t like to see a comment of any sort on the blog?). The blogosphere also has a tendency to self-regulate, so outright attacks from Mr. Nasty on your organisation and its views are only likely to provoke indignation from the MEP blogger and potentially responses in your defence from other blog readers.  The rules that apply to contributions to any kind of debate apply, follow them and you should be win more than you lose from this engagement.

Will anyone take the challenge and see this as a way of getting its views to the top of Mr. Stubb’s intray? We shall of course watch what happens with interest.

In any case, what the post does show is that Brussels public affairs practitioners should be monitoring MEP blogs for their views on issues that affect their organisations. They may see new threats emerge or indeed identify allies that they did not know existed. Another example? New blogger on the block Bill Newton-Dunn MEP posted about aviation issues just last week. Not his natural stomping ground at all.

February 29, 2008 at 3:25 pm 1 comment


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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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