Public Affairs: Soap Box - David Prescott, managing director, Game Changer

When a parliamentary researcher is asked to do urgent research, the first thing they are going to do is 'Google it'.

The search returns will prominently feature political blogs. Why? Because the platforms on which blogs run are highly optimised for search engines.

But if a Bill is in the chamber and the whips have told an MP they have to make a speech in an hour, the researcher will behave differently.

The first thing the researcher will do is identify who cares enough about an issue to provide a minute of a speech, with a half-hour lead time. This is an illustration of the importance of networking in public affairs, but social networking sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter, also come into play.

These websites, open all day on parliamentary computers, might seem like a distraction, but they are now a crucial part of keeping a researcher's ear to the ground.

Social networks not only make it easier for public affairs consultants to be contacted quickly and directly; they allow them to broadcast their knowledge and expertise. Doing it with humour can guarantee you yet more penetration.

If a public affairs consultant is operating on Twitter, Facebook, Google and political blogs, they will be at the heart of this influencing space.

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