Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Internet proving hard to control - the latest from political crowdsourcing

Do Labour and the Tories know what they are doing when they open their campaigns up to the public?

Is opening up your campaign to the internet a good idea? The Tory attempt to make #cashgordon one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter was probably more trouble than it was worth and – of course – Labour's PeoplePosters campaign to crowdsource an election poster has been taken up by people who don't like them that much either.
The excellent Beau Beau D'Or, who has been using Photoshop for satire since the last election, posted the following on his blog:

I can't think of much worse than the Conservatives getting into power. The mask will drop, pockets will be lined and despair will reign but just because I have a go at the Tories (frequently) does not make me a Labour voter [...]

PeoplePosters is a PR exercise for the faithful, maybe a PR campaign if Labour can get it into the MSM [mainstream media]. Ten digital posters over a few days is not an advertising campaign despite what the spin doctors and misguided/cynical tweeting MPs say. You are being treated like idiots.

Someone may well produce a great poster. Meanwhile Tories will be lapping up the mountains of bullshit (and producing their own) to discredit Labour, a potential own goal. They will also be given the opportunity for quick rebuttal having scanned all the entries.

He links to Chicken Yoghurt, again, not a Tory blog, which has a page of posters comparing Brown's record to Cameron's lack of substance ie "[Brown] Helped kill 600,000 Iraqis. Could he [Cameron]?"

I can't help wondering if Labour's adoption of the user-generated poster, which came of age with mydavidcameron.com, has fully acknowledged the sense of fun and mischief that anything like this really needs to get going. The page on the Labour party website inviting submissions features a head and shoulders shot of Philip Gould and a brief to "highlight Labour's pledge to protect frontline investment in key services". That reads more like a pitch to an ad agency than an attempt to speak the people who are most likely to take part.

On the other great political crowdsourcing exercise of the last week, the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones looks at how the Tory party's crowdsourced response to the budget fared.

A spokeswoman came back with a rather vague reply. Yes, there had been "hundreds of really good comments", though they appeared to fall more into the category of opinion rather than fresh analysis. She could not give me any example of a detail spotted by the web crowd that had eluded the party's Treasury team, but promised that some of the comments would be published this week.

So maybe this week we'll see.
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