Posts tagged Obama

Influence of digital media on politics

After a great workshop by Kelly Dempski of Accenture about marketing opportunities using social media (take time to read : Setting the stage for the social network landscape), we had the opportunity to listen to Rahaf Harfoush (World Economic Forum).

In 2008, she was part of the Obama team winning the US election and here are her observations about social media :

The Obama campaign was the first example of how digital media can influence political campaigns. It was the first time such tools were used that way.
The Obama team was then able to reach every corner of America without having the financial resources at first to physically reach them. As a result, some figures show the success of such a process :

  • 2 million profiles created
  • 35’000 volunteer groups
  • 400’000 blog posts
  • 200’000 side events

Working with social networks helped redefining relationships. By creating relationships with supporters they felt more involved in the election (Displaying infos about B. Obama in daily campaign life on Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter….). As a consequence and when trying to raise money through these media, Obama raised twice as much money as McCain by using social network (67% of that money came from online sources….).

Rahaf Harfoush observes that the use of digital media, increased focus on government transparency and open data (acceptability). Since President Obama is in the White House, US government opened websites to give transparent information about governmental actions and issues :

On the citizens’ side, things are moving as well :

  • (reporting problems and frauds in African elections)
  • Iran protests and use of Twitter as only channel of communication left (government closed websites, SMS services, news offices….)

Where are we going ? (Near Future)

According to Rahaf Harfoush, we face an Evolving Digital Activism. People get generally more involved politically through social networks and social media (example : and use these tools to be heard.
They are trends towards a surge in number and scale of these kinds of movements, and potential violent response from government having no interest in transparency
(see Chavez – Venezuela against Twitter – terrorist media…).

She also notes the new Role of Corporations. Never before, products of companies has had such an impact on governmental actions (Google, Gmail vs China or Iran, Twitter vs Venezuela…). It was made obvious when, for example, US asked Twitter to postpone maintenance while Iran protest….

There’s an ongoing battle where each new event creates a precedent. It is something that impacts all of us. But there’s an important risk of Slacktivism instead of real activism in the field… (also read : The brave new world of slacktivism).

>> See also : 5 Ways Government Works Better With Social Media

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Tonight is your answer…

Yes we can… Change is happening…obama

All right, I must say this was a great victory speech on election day and another lesson in communication skills. I have to admit that Barack Obama can make us dream of a brighter future for the US and certainly other parts of the world… Great words that touched the heart…

That’s the perfect end of a campaign dedicated to storytelling. Indeed, both Obama and Mc Cain relied a lot on building great stories that could speak to America’s heart. The War Hero vs the Black Son of the World (Kenya, Hawaï, USA…). Even Sarah Palin had her part in this story telling contest but she obviously lost in the game.

But the most difficult part now will be to meet these great expectations embeded in the story (stories?) we all dream of !

So, congratulations Mr. Obama… and GOOD LUCK (you’ll need it) !

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Hurry Cain ! Crisis communication

Coming back from summer holidays, I’m reading, just like many of us, articles and news about hurricane Gustav and how it is has a (stormy) impact on the Republican National Convention.
This is a dramatic illustration, in my opinion, of how politicians have to be able to cope with crisis communication. In the opposite of Bush’s absence of reaction when Katarina hit New Orleans, McCain has to move fast from celebrating Republican Ambitions to showing support to people from Louisiana.

But as Peter Baker puts it in the New York Times :

With television tracking the storm’s approach and showing images of an emptying New Orleans, it was hard for voters to escape reminders of how Mr. Bush had emerged from Hurricane Katrina severely wounded by judgments of incompetence and lack of empathy.

This is (another) turning point in the presidential campaign as McCain has the pressure to match the Democrat Convention media cover and Obama’s historical speech.

“There are two sides to the coin,” said Joe Gaylord, who was a top adviser to Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker. “On the one hand, you’d like the time to be able to present your message to the public. On the other hand, when the country’s going through something like this — and remember just how searing Hurricane Katrina really was for the country — to have that happen almost on the anniversary in almost the exact location, to not pay attention would be a huge mistake.”

It will be interesting to see what’s going to be remembered from this hectic period in a (already) historical presidential campaign in America and how spin doctors from both sides are able to make the best of a crisis…

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