David Milliband has a beautiful face, apparently.

A couple of blogs have already reported on the fact that Obama has been named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year. And what was the reason for this victory?Yep, you guessed it…
“Jon Fine, marketing and media columnist for BusinessWeek, pointed to Mr. Obama’s facility with engaging voters in social-media channels. ‘It’s the fuckin’ Web 2.0 thing,’ he said.”
Yep, the fuckin’ web 2.0 thing. Obama has pretty much nailed it… not only can he talk to the ‘people’ (rule number 1 of successful social media campaigns…) but every single one of the videos on Obama’s YouTube channel links to a Google Donate button. He has a widget, he even has an application on the iPhone… His online PR is based on positivity rather than McCain’s negativity, anda quick scan of the popular US celebrity blogs, such as Perez Hilton and Dlisted, show that Obama is doing it right. He’s engaging, he’s interacting, and he’s giving the people what they want. So, too, is Sarah Palin of course, but in different ways. Bless.
So why is it that the UK politicians are so appalling at the ‘web 2.0’ thing? To me, it seems that any online activity of a political nature in this countryis driven by bandwagons, hype, and faddy behaviour that will have no greater effect in engaging with the public than planting a ‘vote labour’ sign in your front garden and hoping for the best. Which my parents did, by the way, and were devastated when Neil Kinnock didn’t win.
In my opinion, if you’re hoping to win over the UK’s voters, social media is not the way to do it. Or at least, token social media campaigns, suggested by your PR agency, will not work unless you 100% understand your audiences. Show me one person who was won over by the wonderful, down-to-earth, family man type persona that WebCameron portrayed. At the time it was hailed as the tories’ secret weapon… when it was first launched, in 2006, it was stated that David Cameron had “radical plans to harness the power of the internet by reaching out to a blogging generation that is disaffected and disconnected from mainstream politics.” Although if anyone could tell me exactly what was radical about his video blogs, i would be extremely grateful. What worries me is that the online audience was seen as disaffected, and disconnected, when in fact the majority of the UK are online: talking, watching stuff, making stuff and forming opinions. To see them as a whole other ‘alien’ group is incredibly misinformed.
David Millaband made the same mistake… as articulated by a Defra spokeswoman, after internet users defacedhis blog when he’d actively encouraged public contribution, when she stated, “It’s unfortunate that these things do happen. This in no way undermines our commitment as a department to dealing with serious issues and using new technology to pioneer an open style of government.”

So what was intended to mark a significant step in the formation of policy resulted in Joe Public responding with:“Hi there. I’m David, Dave, Milliband. I’ve set up this big conversation in Cyberspace here to try and create a news story based around the fact that New Labour (and me especially) really want to think about the environment… Also, look at my beautiful face”.

Arguably not the best result for what was probably intended to be a largely collaborative and successful PR exercise, but an important lesson for us all. The blog is still there. Comments are few, but KUDOS to the ‘spin doctors’ for the lack of overt moderation.But this what you you get if you’re not transparent, not honest, and appear to be totally unbelievable. It may not effect the way we vote, but these learnings should certainly affect our communications strategies.

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    You’re right about Obama, that’s easy. Why he has been so successful at it is, however, an act of timing and fortitude as much as anything else. The last 18 months have seen an explosion in social media that have been brought into sharp focus by the US presidential election. No one was really talking about Twitter and people were still finding their way in the burgeoning world of social media. During the last UK General election social media barely featured. Barely existed in anything by a nascent form. Next time around will be different and Obama has left us a lot to think about. Chiefly i think the Obama campaign has shown is that there can not be a piecemeal attitude towards social media. You have to embrace it. I take part in a long running successful political blog and posts attract hundreds of comments. It is a much more vibrant atmosphere and you have to take the rough with the smooth, which is something that Labour and the Tories will both have to work. David Milliband’s blog looks over moderated, but he needs some blogging tips as well.