Bananachinese’s Weblog

July 19, 2011

No escape from new media effect

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Any advertisement or Public Relations companies which do not have political experts/section, please do not attempt to  do political campaign or anything politics. Your political client’s future may be in danger because of your inadequacy.

*shudder for BN and PR*

Share with you article found published in Malaysia-today on 14 July 2011:

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Unfortunately for stakeholders in Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, Malaysia’s political rhythm for the upcoming 13th general election has changed to a new beat from 9 July 2011.

In this new political landscape where the rakyat hold supreme in the choice between Barisan and Pakatan, any forward looking players should now be urgently re-thinking their choice of campaign managers and teams who will play an important role to make or break the political incumbents’ careers or aspirants’ dreams.

Compared with Pakatan which has adopted heavy use of new media much earlier, Barisan is running behind in the race to articulate its messages on this platform. Whether by choice or due to an inability to engineer a mindset turnaround, Barisan’s team has also missed out chances to update its messaging and repair missed touchpoints. Perhaps it might be in serious need of a major overhaul of its voter communication bureaucracies.

For the influential segment of middle class voters who possess more confidence to make a stand on issues and demand for intelligent discourse, BN’s incongruent messages do not synchronize with the people’s vision of 1Malaysia. The incongruous noise also implies a lack of updated skills in political messaging by Barisan’s campaigners, promoters, speakers and spokesmen. One also suspects non-existent political knowhow in the advertising companies managing the BN coalition parties’ or candidate’s media accounts.

Some voters might recall being bombarded by ‘unreal’ messages from political advertisements mostly carried in mainstream newspapers in the 12th general election campaign. Due to its misalignment to voters’ sentiment, some might recall being amused by BN’s manifesto’s theme ‘Selamat, Aman, Makmur’ or MCA’s ad depicting its President still cycling around the new village.

Those messages may have worked well in the days before new media became a daily work, communication and information essential.

According to the Election Commission, Malaysia has 11.82 million registered voters after the supplementary electoral roll for the fourth quarter of 2010 was gazetted recently. In June 2010, there were 16.9 million internet users in Malaysia (representing 64.6% of the population) according to Internet World Stats.

Certainly these data presents a huge opportunity to extend the power of messaging beyond traditional platforms or hardsell to reach the hearts and minds of Gen X and Y families, especially the new voters.

The new media platform exposes its users to diverse perspectives and is a tool to politicize younger people. Today’s voters are disengaged from the traditional ideas of political loyalty and places more value on issues of governance and civil discourse.

Today’s middle class talk about values and rights of an individual. It may even be perceived as a form of cruelty, a turnoff or politically incorrect behavior to cast aspersion via character assassination or cliché to bespattering someone with metaphorical mud. Thence, it was no surprise that individuals ‘guilty’ of moral indiscretions were elected or appointed to office as the value creation from harnessing their career skills carried more weightage against other considerations.

No longer bound to thought limitations of mainstream newspapers, radio and television, your fellow citizens are free to watch and compare ideas on the worldwide internet almost everyday and communicate their expanded worldview to share with their families, relatives and friends in the rural areas or globally.

This complicates and presents a huge challenge to candidates contesting in the urban and semi-urban constituencies. Any political campaigners worth their salt must possess listening experience on the internet before embarking on the political trail to try to persuade voters to listen to their candidate’s message.

As always for political players and stakeholders, fresh approaches to politics are absolutely necessary to convince voters beyond traditional offers of lunch, dinner or charity.

There is no escaping the new media effect and for sure, at any given time, the world may be watching and sharing through the internet what one is saying today or have said yesterday.

By: Ho Aoi Ling
The writer is a social media listening specialist and heads an independent think tank in Kuala Lumpur. She may be reached at cleat.clew@gmail.com or Twitter http://twitter.com/aoiling

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