Posts tagged ‘MEP blogs’
Today we launch the results of our European Parliament Digital Trends Survey – www.epdigitaltrends.eu It examines how Members of the European Parliament are using the internet to communicate with their voters as well as how the same MEPs use the internet to inform their daily legislative work. As such, we hope that the results are interesting both for MEPs and for Brussels public affairs practitioners.
In summary MEPs are using the internet to communicate to voters but are not yet for the most part using all the tools available. No doubt MEPs have come a long way since the last elections, but there is still a road to travel.
For public affairs practitioners we believe that our results support the view we espoused when we started this blog 2 years ago. Like all of us MEPs are going online for information to inform their decisions. To be effective, our public affairs strategies need to integrate digital communications into their toolbox of tactics. Digital can not replace traditional tools such as contact programmes and media relations it complements them, rendering our activities more effective.
On the microsite www.epdigitaltrends.eu you will find the following:
- Our main results with supporting statistics
- An e-brochure
- A full report
- A library of downloads, including graphs and the raw data for you to make your own analysis and graphs
- Commentary from MEPs
- An opportunity for you to post your own thoughts
- The charities we supported in conducting the research
- The methodology we used – sample size etc.
In the coming days we shall be taking time to reflect on what the different parts of our results mean for public affairs practitioners in Brussels on this blog.
Thanks to all MEPs who participated and to the hardworking FH team who made it all possible (everyone in the office played some role but in particular I’d like to thank Mike, Reg, Veronique, Liliana, Julie, Carey, Aurelie, Tim, Michele, Jay, Clara and Rosie)
We look forward to your reactions to the results on the microsite and to having a debate on this blog about what our survey says about digital public affairs.
For those who have missed it, we’re conducting a survey of MEPs and their digital behaviour. We shall be launching the results on a dedicated micro-site in mid-May. Lots of interesting data (we are currently swimming in pivot tables) from the responses we’ve collated in recent weeks for both MEPs and their staff and the PA community in Brussels and elsewhere.
In case you are feeling that you just can’t wait another couple of weeks and you need a EU survey fix today check out EU Profiler
The survey seeks to tell you where you fit on the political group spectrum -for this former MEP staffer it underlined some of the voting tensions I have experienced in all the elections I have voted in. For my colleagues, there was something of shock that I was still where I started out on the political spectrum.
It seems serial blogger Richard Corbett is locked in online battle with the evil forces of the anti-European movement over his reluctance to allow comments on his own blog. The dirty scoundrels have gone and created a mirror blog that is exactly the same as Richard’s blog with the sole exception that the spoof allows one to add comments. And yes, those comments have been rolling in from anti-Europeans in the UK in great numbers – 26 comments and counting on Richard’s post about the spoof site mirrored on the spoof site (complicated, but think about it).
Despite their tactics, we have a certain sympathy for the spoofers. We commented before that Richard’s blog, despite good content, does lack certain elements expected of a blog. In that case, we saw that Richard rectified a lack of links to other blogs in the days following our post. So we hope this time around that Richard does the thing that comes hardest and admits that he was wrong not to allow comments. By opening his real blog up for moderated comments, he can destroy the appeal of the mirror spoof site, gain some control over the comments posted, enter into a dialogue with his voters and even win praise from the blogosphere for doing so.
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.
In a meeting last week, a colleague made a comment about following proper ‘netiquette’. The large part of my experience with the internet showed that the norm in blogs and comments is to berate someone for simple errors, verbally assault anyone you don’t agree with, ridicule positions that are not extreme, or write offensive and irrelevant statements and stereotypes. Is ‘netiquette’, I asked, a word that permits otherwise inexcusable public behaviour, simply because it happens on the ‘net’ and not on the street?
In fact, ‘netiquette’ is exactly what it sounds like – etiquette on the internet. There is a long and established history of ‘netiquette’ conversations, dating back to the early days of the internet. Not only has the word been around for years, it is sufficiently common that a 2007 YouGov poll identified ‘netiquette’ one of the most hated internet words. And despite this, I had never even heard the word.
Like much that is ‘digital’, the basics of ‘netiquette’ are no different than its non-digital ancestor. However, the digital medium requires some flexibility and adaptation to new norms. For example, ’emoticons’. These contorted compositions of punctuation marks frighten me. If the Light Brigade charged off to its death at Sebastopol because of improper punctuation in Lord Raglan’s orders to Lord Lucan (or so says Cecil Woodham-Smith in “The Reason Why”), then imagine the consequences of a mis-constructed emoticon. Also, the use of CAPITALS seems to be especially offensive to the eyes. Many guides remind e-mailers and bloggers that anything written, blogged, hosted and transmitted on the internet is public. Anyone can see it, including your mother, so it is important that you are comfortable with anyone reading what you write.
CNN provides useful and concise list of ways to mind your netiquette. So does CNet. There are even netiquette guidelines in French, veuillez agréer Monsieur, l’expression de mes sentiments les plus distingués.
Many MEPs are looking to the elections in 2009, and those considering a blog to connect with their constituents would do well to follow the guidelines of proper (n)etiquette.