The Internet changes how politicians communicate with voters and stakeholders. Nevertheless, many avoid the digital arena out of uncertainty and thus miss out on a great opportunity. 30 European Public Affairs experts at MSLGROUP recently discussed in a two-day workshop in Berlin how one can design the most effective set of digital and conventional measures.
While politics as a whole is still struggling with the Internet as “Neuland“, politicians themselves have long since discovered the Internet and put it to use for themselves. No doubt, the digitization of society is changing the way how politicians communicate with each other and with their constituents.
Digital instruments have long found their way into the communication of companies, associations and NGOs in particular. Only few stakeholders have fully embraced digital. Some are courageously surging forward and begin to leverage the potential of the Internet. However, according to the annual Public Affairs Survey 2014 by MSLGROUP Germany, only slightly more than half of the respondents use social media.
Digital formats provide new connecting factors
Many stakeholders are cautious when it comes to digital activities. The Public Affairs experts of the MSLGROUP who came together in Berlin for a workshop on Digital Public Affairs under the motto “#MSLdigitalPA” shared this experience. Consultants from ten European markets exchanged their views, experiences, and best practices for digital Public Affairs strategies.
— MSL Germany (@MSL_Germany) 16. Januar 2015
There is little doubt that many digital opportunities help lobbyists in doing their work, since parliamentarians and other policy makers use the Internet more and more. The dialogue with decision makers on the Internet can provide new insights and touch points for cultivating contacts that are not as stressed as usual Public Affairs formats. Today, Members of Parliament tweet themselves This was also confirmed by Dr. Andreas Nick, MP of the Christian Democrats, who gave insight in how he uses the Internet and social media for his political everyday life. However, although many politicians are very active in social media, many lobbyists dismiss new channels as analyzing tools and touch points with their target audience. Out of uncertainty about the mechanics, many companies and organizations avoid any digital dialogue with their key stakeholders and, thus, leave the digital arena without a fight to representatives with potentially conflicting interests.
Yet, the Internet opens great opportunities not only to NGOs capable of campaigning, but also to companies and associations with complex issues. At the workshop, this aspect was especially emphasized by Jeannette Gusko, Communications Director at the petition platform Change.org. Together with the Public Affairs experts, she discussed several case studies and showed how NGOs and businesses gain public reputation through the proper use of intermediary platforms.
— Ole Wulff (@olewulff) 16. Januar 2015
Best practices for an integrated set of digital and conventional measures
Key is in the precise planning and a coherent integration of digital measures in the existing public affairs strategy. Best practices and established processes for analysis, design, planning, and implementation of digital Public Affairs measures, as our 30 public affairs experts defined in our workshop, not only help to significantly reduce risk of digital communications, but also to define the most effective set of digital and conventional measures – in accordance with a sustainable Public Affairs strategy.
Sebastian Nikoloff is a Junior Consultant at MSLGROUP Germany with a focus on Digital Public Affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @SebNikoloff