Standing up for Canberra

Hong Kong Chamber: A Letter from Canberra

Six years ago, when I was embarking on my first campaign, the focus of my team’s attention was on flyers for letterboxing and print and radio advertising. I had a Facebook page, which I rarely used, and I hadn’t signed up for Twitter.

How the world of political campaigning has changed in less than a decade.

As I write, Australians have passed the half-way mark of the longest election campaign in living memory.

And as the budget for political advertising does not account for how long we have to campaign, every dollar has to go wider, last longer, and stretch further.

Which is why it’s interesting to look at how politicians are spending their precious campaign budgets.

A recent review of this election’s campaign estimates that around 40 per cent of each party’s advertising spend is going online.

An ever-greater number of politicians are turning to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat as a way to reach their community.

I’m one of them – but only to a point.

I’m still a big fan of the same, lo-fi technique I used in that first campaign six years – wearing out the shoe leather and pressing the flesh.

Because at the end of the day, people don’t want to be advertised to: they want to be spoken with.

I’m a firm believer that speaking with a member of my community, face to face, is the simplest and most effective way to campaign.

Technology is a supplement, not a replacement. As it improves, campaigning might get a little easier – but at its heart, it will always be about having a conversation with your community about what’s important to them, and how you can help.

So in between doorknocking, listening posts and business walkarounds, I’m tweeting and posting on Facebook and Instagram.

I’m banking on a successful campaign, centred on the physical, with a sprinkle of the digital.

It’s always been what works best. And I don’t think that’s ever going to change.

I might be wrong.

I’ll let you know after the election!