Posts tagged ‘political campaigning’

Can the net help companies plant roots in Brussels?

Modern Architecture and Bridge

Image by loungerie via Flickr

A post last week on the website Wired got me thinking about the use of grassroots in Brussels. The author highlights that GM has sought to use its own employees to lobby federal US policymakers for the money it needs to stay afloat as a company.

It reminded me of a recent dinner conversation about whether grassroots – digital or otherwise – can work in Brussels when conducted by corporations. The conversation was sparked by the Vattenfall campaign that has been running in PLux (see our recent post).

Principally our dinner conversation focused on two points:

  1. Whether contact from concerned individuals would have an effect in Brussels
  2. Whether it is acceptable for a corporation (as opposed an NGO) to undertake such a tactic

I’ve already argued, and continue to believe, that such contact can make a difference. In fact, I’ve even taken it to the extreme and argued that given our Brussels sensitivities about being in touch with citizens and the fact that direct contact with citizens is a relative novelty that it may be more powerful when done well.

Of course, when grassroots tactics have been used here they have tended to have been used by NGOs. Even a chemical-head like me has to take his hat off to the campaigns run by NGOs during REACH. Who could forget postcards featuring Barroso and Verheugen feeding chemicals to a baby through a test tube. Or delegations from the jam-making WI turning up in the European Parliament. Industry fights on fact, loses on emotion (again). Life ain’t fair, is it folks?

Thus, while I don’t buy the statement that just because it works in the US it can work here, I equally don’t buy that it can’t work here. It’s just going to be different. See some examples we’ve already featured in this blog (here, here and here). (more…)

November 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm 7 comments

Obama and the iPhone

Image representing IPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

There is little doubt that if queues to vote for the Democrats on November 4 are comparable to queues on the release of the iPhone, then Obama will be a happy man.  Last week Obama’s team announced that the link between Obama and the iPhone ran deeper, with the creation of an application for the iPhone which encourages friends and families to vote.

The imaginatively-named ‘Obama 08 Phone App’ has a ‘Call Friends’ option that prioritizes contacts by key battleground states and asks users to call their friends in those states to vote for Obama. The software also enables users to receive updates about the campaign and set reminders to call friends on Election Day. Chris Hughes, the director of online organizing for the Obama campaign explained, “A contact has a lot more value when it is from someone you know than when it is from some random person,” said Chris Hughes, the director of online organizing for the Obama campaign.

Amid such talk, it is easy to forget that the subject of the conversation is political campaigning. Indeed, categories such as “Not Interested,” “Considering Obama” and “Already Voted,” are more suggestive of an online dating tool. Herein lies the ingenuity of ‘Obama 08 Phone App’: the obvious question as to why friends would want to sort their contacts into anything other than alphabetical lists is lost in the originality of the application.  The software plugs into the millions of American iPhone lovers and Obama supporters in the hope that the passion for the former might be mirrored in support for latter on November 4.

Obama’s use of digital tools provides interesting insight into political campaigning in the 21st Century. His website has links to no less than 16 social networking tools, as well as the now almost standard TV channel. Whilst not all of the platforms are likely to appeal to the European voter (indeed British iPhone lovers are unlikely to fall for a ‘Brown 08 Phone App’), the US election does offer innovative ideas for politicians on this side of the Atlantic.

Hatty

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October 7, 2008 at 12:25 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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