Jere Sullivan, Chairman, Global Public Affairs
Dylan said it best, “Times, they are a changing”. That is surely the case when you look at what is happening in the world of public affairs. We just completed the Capital Staffer Index, a Trans-Atlantic study (Berlin, DC, Brussels, Paris and London) of senior congressional and parliamentarian staffers on their use of digital media to research and shape policy and communicate with constituents. We identified some interesting findings.
Blogging has gone mainstream. The novelty of having a blog – no matter who you are – has become background noise. However, with the continued free fall of newspapers and news outlets around the world a great opportunity has arose for a host of serious, well informed and ethical online outlets to are provide content and aggregate news. Our research showed that nearly 40% of staffers are using blogs to monitor policy-related news and opinions on policy issues. And nearly half view blogs as an effective means to communicate with constituents.
An “about face” in PA. The most effective way to communicate with staffers and their members is still face to face meetings (96%). Nothing earth shattering there. But, face time has taken on a new meaning with staffers – not just the entry level college grads, but senior policy making staff – who are turning to Facebook. 60% are using it for personal connections, but nearly 30% are using it to connect with professional colleagues, one in five are using it to communicate with constituents and one in ten to research policy issues.
All politics, and digital media, is local. When asked which sites staffers turn to first thing in the morning they revealed it is primarily their local mainstream online outlets such as BBC in London. Other online sources such as dedicated political blogs and their respective government policy sites also emerged as points of interest. The one exception to the rule was Google/Google News which was the only site that was accessed across all markets.
An opportunity to fill the Digital Advocacy Gap. The findings demonstrated that there is a real appetite for digital media as a research and engagement tool. It is no longer a question of if I should use digital as part of the PA mix, but rather how I should use it.