One of the most spectacular examples of how ideology can triumph over fact is the current Australian Treasury head, John Fraser, who proudly announced that ‘austerity works’ citing the example of UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.
Sadly Fraser is still there although Osborne was sacked by Theresa May; took up a lucrative position with a hedge fund which had profitedy massively from some of his decisions; and is apparently also now editor of the Evening Standard. Of course he is still drawing an MPs’ salary to demonstrate that he totally understands the sacrifices society has to make to get the economy moving again and that he empathises with all those workers forced to survive on a portfolio of jobs.
A spate of recent research – and a prominent Australian case study – are suggesting that there may be an increase in the effectiveness of consumer activism with some implications for corporate reputations.
The Australian case study, Coopers and the Bible Society, is fascinating because it highlights how the more specialised your brand is the more vulnerable you may be. Coopers make great beer, donates lots of money to the conservative parties and also makes generous contributions to the Bible Society – which is apparently not in favour of gay marriage. A special Coopers Bible Society beer (they apparently aren’t teetotal) was launched by a Liberal MP who just happened to be a former IPA (the lobby group not Indian Pale Ale) person.
A major Delphi study is being conducted to identify the capabilities communicators should have and what they should know.
And the early results seem to indicate some emphases which one would expect but which are also very different from some common practice emphases on tactics, techniques and fashionable communication channels.
The City of Port Phillip has a remarkable track record in providing case studies for communicators – particularly examples of tactics and strategies to avoid.
Regular blog readers may recall that the Council managed the remarkable feat of failing to convince the community of the need for a remediation plan for a polluted site – reversing the situation in 999 out of 1000 similar cases. Then it ran a community consultation plan strong on pretty pictures and online dazzle but ineffective.
While it seems at times there is little good news emanating from the land of Donald Trump there is some of significance – first on US attitudes to climate change and second on the countervailing forces in the country.
The George Mason University Centre for Climate Change Communication has been doing some analysis of its latest Climate Change in the American Mind survey which was undertaken after the election. In particular it found that: “About half of Trump voters (49%) think global warming is happening, while fewer than one in three (30%) think global warming is not happening. About half of Trump voters (47%) also say the U.S. should participate in the international agreement to limit global warming. By contrast, only 28% say the U.S. should not participate. More than six in ten Trump voters (62%) support taxing and/or regulating the pollution that causes global warming, with nearly one in three (31%) supporting both approaches. In contrast, only about one in five (21%) support doing neither.”
There is a legendary story about the great Austrian mathematician and logician, Kurt Gödel, recounted in a recent issue of TheConversation (11 February 2017) by Sydney University’s Professor Mark Colyvan. When Gödel was preparing for a US citizenship examination he discovered what he said was a ‘loophole’ in the Constitution which would enable a President to become a dictator
It is very sobering (although others might say so terrifying as to drive you to drink) to realise what your ordinary United States citizen believes. On the other hand some of it has prompted research into how this can guide communicators on framing messages.
Both Yuval Noah Harari in his new book, Homo Deus, and Carter T. Butts in an article in Science (21 October 2016) on why people don’t believe scientific findings, give insights into one aspect of this – US attitudes to evolution.
In the 1950s and 1960s the RSL was a formidable political force – stridently anti-communist, omnipresent in the media, sole custodian of the Anzac legend and sometimes a force for the welfare of veterans.
Today it is reeling from financial scandals, declining membership and in “rapid if not terminal decline” according to Kel Ryan an RSL Life Member, senior Army officer and currently a scholar completing a PhD on the RSL and its advocacy.
The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is supposedly a bit of a digital whiz kid au fait with all the wonders of modern technology and its promise to make us more agile.
On his government’s digital track record – the Census disaster, losing the head of his digital transformation unit shortly after he started and now the Centrelink problems – one has to wonder whether the Turnbull expertise is actually as great as promised or whether he simply hasn’t managed to convey the message to his Cabinet.