Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Downing Street can learn how to sell policy from the White House

There has been much criticism of how the Government communicates its policies - including from me. These criticisms range from allowing the media to misrepresent policy (forestry privatisation), not making policy changes relevant to voters (NHS reform), failing to define exactly it is that they are talking about (Big Society) as well as using the wrong spokespeople who have been badly prepared.

The same sort of criticisms have been levelled at the Obama administration and at the White House in particular. This criticism reached fever pitch during and immediately after the disastrous - for the Democrats - mid term elections. Since November, President Obama has changed course in terms of policy but also in how he communicates including putting in place a new team in the fabled West Wing.

Last night the latest weapon in the new communications war was unveiled on the White House blog; every week one of the President’s closest advisers will post a short video to talk about what’s going on at the White House and ask for advice, opinions and feedback on important issues.  They then promise to go through as much of this feedback as possible and post a summary of what has been fed in later in the week. You can see the first video from David Plouffe, Senior Advisor to the President here.

I think this is a brilliant idea and breaks down barriers between the White House - which is painted by critics as remote and elitist - and the voters. It also lets people feel they are part of the process of government; countering criticisms that 'those folks in Washington' don't listen to the man or woman on Main Street USA.

I would love to see the Government undertake a similar project but, instead of hearing from Downing Street advisers, a video a week is posted by a Minister talking about what they are doing, their priorities and decisions that are coming across their desks. Then engage the public to help out, offer advice and feel part of the process in governing this country.

Undertaking this project would have a number of advantages, not least it removes the need to communicate through the media so the government would remain in control of its message, rather than be misrepresented by the BBC or newspapers with certain agendas.

It might also focus minds of Ministers. If they can explain what it is they are doing and why in a short video then we might start getting somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ed,
    I think it is a great idea too. I would also like our MEPs to do this as so few people understand the nature of their work. I love recording and editing election campaign videos too, it's great fun. I always weave a story into it to draw in viewers.
    Thanks for my link to your blog. Sadly, my new blog layout means I cannot display these any more, but I have added your link on my admin site.


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