“Calmer waters” in the blogosphere for the PM
An interesting thing happened in Twitterland last week. At short notice, influential social media users and bloggers – all women – began to murmur about how they had been invited to have morning tea with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. “Cool!” we said. “What’s it for?”
It would be fair to say that there wasn’t a flurry of responses to that question, but the ones that did come back were a variation on the “to have a chat” theme. Considering Gillard is one of the busiest people in the country, the notion that she simply wanted to have a chat with a group of women she’d never met – all of whom are well connected with and influence many other women – seemed unlikely. But with no clear statement from Kirribilli House or really any additional information, those not invited along waited until afterward, when surely everything would become clearer.
“What was it about!” we cried, looking for juicy details.
“She just wanted to chat!” they said.
And then, as we might have predicted, they took to their blogs to talk about what a wonderful time they had had at morning tea with the PM, and their many and varied female audience members – remembering that women are also the key influencers in their households – read about how excellent it all was. So far, all fine.
Obviously it wasn’t just for a chat, and was a carefully constructed exercise in PR by a very clever team that has its finger on the pulse. Mummy bloggers make headlines because of their influence –> mummy bloggers spread Gillard’s likeableness via their great influence.
I think that’s neat. It’s clever, it’s contemporary, it’s creative. Someone has tapped into an audience that most people are too scared to touch and generated publicity gold. I don’t have a beef with any of this. I think it shows a degree of savviness not often seen in Australian (or any) politics. Iced Vovos all round!
Fairfax ran a piece about it this morning.
IT IS an old saying in politics that complaining about the media is like a sailor complaining about the sea. But these days, if conditions get too choppy, you can switch to calmer waters by bypassing the mainstream media and heading straight to the blogosphere.
Let’s break that down.
It’s safe for the PM to invite and address a bunch of female social media influencers, because as far as the general public is concerned (and I’m obviously not saying I agree with this) they are not real media influencers with real ideas or real opinions or real political leanings. They are apparently not perceived to be a group of people who will get involved in something and then speak in a contrary way about policies they disagree with.
Don’t worry, Prime Minister, you can invite these people along because chances are, they are too nice to say bad things about you and they don’t have real opinions anyway.
I don’t think that’s true – I think the “blogosphere” comprises a large number of motivated, interested people who think critically about issues in their lives. But because they are not (always) representatives from mainstream media, sometimes they may lack the objectivity and forthrightness that is necessary to report accurately on things like “visiting the PM and talking about her policies”. What therefore comes out of these visits is a series of blog posts that speak to the “femaleness” of Gillard – her warmth, her empathy, her passion. All of which I believe to be true, but which also has very little to do with her politics.
Therefore, says the SMH, they offer an excellent low-risk method of organic communication to other women like them – ones who are politically malleable and who feel comfortable about investing in a woman who is warm, empathetic and passionate.
We shall see.