Political Rallies 2017 General Election

Political rallies in the 2017 General election have brought the campaign to life. Labour’s rallies across the country are showing the power of live engagement.

In recent polls the Conservative lead over Labour has halved since the announcement of the snap general election. It’s not possible (at this stage) to pin that narrowing gap on any one particular policy, campaign message, advert, interview or event.

However, what is clear is the stark difference in the live engagement strategy of the Conservatives and Labour: put simple Labour actually have a live engagement strategy.

Political rallies 2017 General Election and other less inspiring political events! 

Here’s two images that I think sum up the differences we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks:

Political Rallies GE17
“Invitation Only”
Political Rally GE17
Perhaps this will be one of the most memorable images from the GE17 Campaign

The image above of Jeremy Corby will his back to the camera is a still from a short video doing the rounds (currently hosted on NME of all places). The video is fascinating, and would make a wonderful party political broadcast; no editing, no overdubs. Just this.

The Conservatives live engagement strategy has been, how can I put it? To not have one. Whoever is in charge of these “events” is doing the most awful job, assuming their objective is anything more than: we need to do some events, so just keep them as simple and “boring” as possible. This is of course a possible objective for the Conservatives but it’s proving to be the wrong one.

These Corbyn images and videos aren’t quite as striking for us Scots, as we already have a charismatic people facing, punter engaging politician in Nicola Sturgeon. For rUK, however, this really is the first time that they’ve had a politician who is not just willing, but capable of taking, and holding this type of stage.

To date, Labour’s use of the Political Rally has been fantastic

In a piece I wrote for Common Space about making events “unmissable” I listed five things that  the #ScotRef campaigners should consider as they plan and execute their events. Well, Labour have brought my list to life!

With Corbyn’s rallies round the country Labour are demonstrating how powerful live engagement can be for a political campaign. Let’s consider the short appearance of Jeremy Corbyn at The Libertines Gig (against my list):

It is clear what the objectives were for this event. It was firstly to get in front of the 15,000 youngsters and encourage them to vote (for Labour), but beyond that it was to create a clear difference between May’s bland and stale events. And those objectives were achieved.

The second thing on my list was to make events newsworthy. Doing something so different was always likely to spark interest. So, success here too!

Next up was “ensure that your event will be amplified by your attendees”. Just watch the video, and see how many of that audience are snapping, tweeting and sharing images all across their social media platforms. Again, their strategy had its success.

Now, to get in front of young voters, Labour could have organised a Youth Conference. As I’ve covered in previous posts the Conference is still the default event for political parties despite millennials giving them a wide berth. So intransigent are these events that Rise, despite its exceptionally strong youthful leadership, still organise Conferences. My fourth tip in my list was not to run “boring events”. By piggy backing on a concert, Labour avoided that pit fall.

My last point was to ask how political events could inject creativity? Well, so barren of ideas and lacking in any spark, are May’s “strong & stable” events, that doing ANYTHING different appears to be creative. Labour simply aren’t doing what the Tories are doing, and they look like the youthful, fresh and creative campaigners.

A Live Engagement Strategy Matters

Labour are out there doing it. The Tories are failing. Exactly what impact these events, and their amplification, will have on the result, is of course still to be determined. However there should be enough evidence already to show that the #ScotRef movement can not take live engagement for granted.  My plan is to make sure that we don’t do that. But I need your help.

If you are interested in contributing to my work on a live engagement strategy for the YES movement please get in touch.

Homeless Hackathon in Glasgow

A homeless hackathon would help end homelessness in Glasgow. Let’s do it.

There’s noting more annoying, as an event organiser, than being involved in an event that doesn’t actually do anything. An exhibition where no one buys or sells anything, a conference where no one learns anything useful, or a networking event where no one meets anything. Unfortunately these types of events happen all the time (you’ve probably been to at least one already the year). But not all events are the same. I’d like to introduce the Hackathon.

Events that really make a difference

I mentioned in my article for CommonSpace “Five Tips for the Yes campaign on making #ScotRef events unmissable my desire to see an end to the “boring” independence events. I wised that our events truly inspired, as well as painted a picture of the Scotland we want to create:

“I would love to see ScotRef Barcamps and ScotRef Hackathons, alongside more engaging traditional conferences.”

Words into action

I’ve been thinking about a IndyHack and I am sure that’s something that would really help the indy cause. However, on reading Death on the streets in today’s Sunday Herald our movement has more pressing concerns. If we all, truly want to create a more socially just Scotland we have to tackle these issues AT THE SAME TIME as we push for independence. So, an IndyHack should wait. What can not is a response from those within the Yes movement to the homelessness deaths and the stories behind those appalling  figures.

Homeless Hackathon in Glasgow

Thankfully other people are already looking at a Hackathon as a way to end homelessness. There’s one happening in Brisbane in June.

Homelessness Hackathon

And last year Shelter Scotland ran a Homeless Hackathon with Product Forge in Edinburgh in July 2016. I’ve messaged both organisations to see if they have plans for one in 2017.

As an event organisers living in Barcelona there doesn’t seem to be a lot I can do to directly and practically improve this appalling situation. Apart from suggest and run a Hackathon or at least support one if Shelter already have plans.

In the meantime, if you would be interested in supporting an IndyHack or a HomelessHack please drop me a note and I will be in touch. Update, no doubt to follow.

Here’s a helpful outline of a hackathon:

The objective is for attendees to bring to life their ideas across an intensive, challenging and hugely rewarding 48 hours.

This format has essentially been created to help organisers achieve an engaged, experiential and interactive event that is easy to amplify.  Exactly what our movement has to do!

A Hackathon generally takes place across Friday evening to Sunday evening. Timings are roughly:

Friday night:

4.30 Registration and networking

5.30 Introductory talks

7.00 Break for Burritos

7.30 Pitching idea and joining teams

9.00 Team discussions

10.30 End of first day

Saturday: Full day hack from just after breakfast until evening!

Lunch, white space and re-charge time included and spaced throughout the day

Sunday:

9.00 Product development and practice presentations

13.00 After lunch. Presentations and judging. –

17.00 Prizes over dinner.

Key areas:

There are prizes for many of the innovations. There are mentors from design, development and policy floating around to help and support teams. Sponsors are involved. Hardware is provided on site (3D printers, Virtual Reality etc) to help products to be developed.

If you would be interested in supporting an IndyHack or a HomelessHack please drop me a note here and I will be in touch. Update, no doubt to follow.

Should #ScotRef event organisers use Facebook

#ScotRef events will be more successful if more people are aware of them, and if more people attend them. Facebook helps amplify our events. 

Facebook has over 31m registered users in the UK. If you want to get your product / service in front of a lot of people, there is fast becoming no better way to do that, than to use Facebook. However, recently I’ve seen a #deletefacebook campaign (ironically on Twitter) that seems to be gaining momentum.

The ills of one particular social media platform.

I am not sure if there was a particular incident, article, TV programme, or annoying advert that prompted @neilmackay to post the above Tweet, but obviously his point of view has had some traction. But let me state this clearly: if you are a #ScotRef event organiser you HAVE to take advantage of Facebook. Our campaigning will play out heavily on this platform.

Perhaps it was this article in The Guardian Facebook employs political aids that raised Neil’s hackles. Or this one  highlighting the role it played in depressing the Clinton vote in the last US Presidential Election. There are certainly a lot of things to dislike about this particular American Corporation.

Top of my list is there shady business practices. Facebook paid less than £5,000 in UK corporation in the UK in 2015. I remember seeing and disbelieving the headline on the news the morning of the revelation. That same morning, I cast my eyes over my inbox to see the detail of the email from my accountant: Facebook paid less corporation tax than my tiny event business!

Facebook made over $4Billon profit that year and stated that its profits in the UK were 0.00005% of their turnover. If that’s the case, the company is clearly run by eejits eh?

The legal case for Facebook to pay a higher percentage of their turnover is black and white: they have done nothing illegal. The moral case for Facebook is equally clear: they have done nothing right.

Such bad business practices alone should be enough for the “intelligent and honest” to heed Neil’s clarion call and ditch the platform. However, if those honest and intelligent people stop engaging and using the platform, then we leave it open to the total abuse by the acolytes of Trump and Farage. If we do not engage we are complicit in placing the power in their hands.

Facebook is a crucial tool for #ScotRef Event Organisers says Scientist (kind of)

Dana Fisher @Fisher_DanaR is an American Scientist, who does nothing else (it seems) but study Protests and Protesters. Her belief in the power of Facebook as a campaigning tool is clear:

“But in recent months, Facebook was cited more often than any other source when Fisher asked people how they heard about a march” 

Facebook is an invaluable amplification tool. And importantly for our movement it is FREE. An event can gain literally thousands of attendees from a smart use of Facebook.

event organisers using Facebook
Likely to have (my guess) somewhere in the region of 7,500 attending. But I hope I am wrong. And  it does get into five figures.

So, should #scotref event organisers use Facebook? Well, we are all too aware of the negative aspects of this social media platform but we also have to be aware of the benefits to the #ScotRef movement. We have to understand it and use it. So, if you are organising a #ScotRef event don’t #ditchfacebook. Hold off displaying that anger, and let it boil over when Scotland sets and enforces its own corporation tax.

If you are interested in contributing to my work on a live engagement strategy for the YES movement please get in touch.