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Public Engagement: Survive and Thrive in a Bigger Society Vol. 3
The third volume of Edelman’s annual publication, Public Engagement: Survive and Thrive in a Bigger Society, is a collection of thought pieces written by the UK team in which we continue to explore the shifting media, thought and working landscapes that we inhabit, as well as the increasingly complex relationship between businesses, brands, government, the media and society.
Public Engagement: Survive and Thrive in a Bigger Society Vol. 3
PublicEngagementSurvive and Thrive in a Bigger SocietyThe Third Annual Edition ofEdelman’s Public Engagement Essays
ContentsThe Third Annual Edition ofEdelman’s Public Engagement EssaysSurvive and Thrive in a Bigger Society 4ForewordBroken-off Engagement 5The tricky business of getting employees to commitby Stefan SternNavigating the Channels 8The participative democracy of brand marketing in a bigger societyby Robert PhillipsAn Inappropriate Media 11Why scepticism is good for democracyby Richard SambrookTo Enable the Big Society, Think Smaller 14Hyperlocal media is best placed to energise and organise communitiesby Nick BarronThe Passion of Content 17Curation cuts through the clutterby Jackie Cooper and David FineEngagement Through Play: How Games Shape the New Reality 20The popularity of social gaming and the growth of social networkingwill redefine successful engagementby Antoine SoussalineThe Big Society Can Bite Back 23A citizen perspectiveby Robert Phillips
Survive and off Thrive in a Broken- Bigger Society Foreword EngagementWelcome to the third annual edition ofEdelman’s Public Engagement essays, in which the old channels are not only being re-thought, but are actually losing power Why some employeeswhich we continue to explore the shiftingmedia, thought and working landscapes that and relevance unless they are surrounded by genuinely new mindsets. Finally, we examine just don’t carewe inhabit, as well as the increasingly complex the role of the citizen: the relationship betweenrelationship between businesses, brands, the individual and the Big Society, and thegovernment, the media and society. ability of citizens to bite back within a new, accountable and radically transparent reality.With the Big Society under increasing scrutiny,the articles in this volume re-imagine the role These Public Engagement essays draw uponof our institutions in a changing world. They a wide range of expertise and experienceconsider the behaviours that we – and others from across the Edelman family. There are– need to adopt to be able to adapt, com- two new faces among our contributors thismunicate and advance: to survive and thrive. year: Chief Content Officer, Richard Sambrook, “I am not bovvered!” wonder if there is something they can do toSome of our behaviours are already appropri- who joins us from the BBC, where he was improve the situation.ate; others less so. Director of Global News; and our Director of The shouted, all-purpose response of Lauren, Strategy, Stefan Stern, former Management the schoolgirl with a bad attitude (created Why – as most surveys indicate – are engage-We explore the shift from national to hyper- writer at The FT. by the actress Catherine Tate) sums up the ment levels so low? Why is work becominglocal media, and question whether there is still outlook of the disengaged employee. That such a misery for so many? This trend pre-an appetite for a cynical Fourth Estate in this Edelman’s commitment to evolving Public frowning face is presented to managers on a dates the financial crisis. There are somemore democratic, and ultimately social, era of Relations within the new framework of Public daily basis. Recession has done little to focus powerful factors at play that any seriouscitizen journalism. We consider the new rules Engagement is encapsulated within these minds, or make people feel that “we are all employer has to come to terms with.and relationship dynamics of the workplace, essays. We hope you enjoy reading them, in this together”. In too many workplaces,and ask who is really in control? We discuss and would welcome your contributions to disengagement rules. Today the last remaining fragments of defer-the thirst for content – the way that it can what we firmly believe should be a continuous ence are finally being blown away. Managersshape conversations and create new passion and connected conversation. Some managers may be relaxed about low cannot presume they are going to be takensets – and examine how the gamification levels of employee engagement. They will seriously, or shown respect, simply becausetrend is causing entertainment to influence Robert Phillips simply declare that “floggings will continue of their job title or position in a hierarchy.what we do and how we do it. We look at UK CEO until morale improves”. Good luck to them. Engagement is a choice. In the words of thehow the role of marketing is changing in a December 2010 Others will be more, well, bothered. They will HR profession, it involves the “discretionarybigger and more fragmented society in 4 5
employer can do is respond to that invest- Engaging people used to be seen as a nice ment by creating a decent environment in HR fad. It’s actually essential for success: which to work. “Engagement is reciprocal,” engagement gives your business a genuine as the management writer Simon Caulkin X factor. And the quality of working life is noted. But the demanding, high maintenance perhaps the most important element in workforce is testing managers’ skills and developing a sense of well-being in society characters to the limit. generally. Employee engagement is not an arid, obscure, jargony subject: it is about how As Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones pointed out we live and work today. in their book ‘Why should anyone be led by you?’, for employees to engage they need But if engaging people at work seems hard, several things to be in place. They need a how much more difficult is it to develop a sense of community: the idea that the group sense of public engagement in the wider they belong to has some sort of coherence. community? Short of time, short of energy, They need to know that their work matters: and increasingly short of money, do citizens the goal or mission of the organisation should see the point in trying to crank up something be authentic (i.e. not phoney or corrupt). And, called a Big Society? Can they really be bov- ideally, there should be at least some fun or vered to do that? Over the next few months, excitement involved. Leaders and managers, we will find out. Goffee and Jones write, need to be “themselves – more – with skill”. It takes a talented and subtle boss to promote a positive environment.effort” of employees. Engagement cannot be Businesses should not be surprised by any ofcommanded. this. After all, when they market their products and services to customers, they find outNor can you expect people to feel desper- pretty quickly how demanding people can be.ately enthused by the prospect of performing Consumers have all been led to believe thattedious, repetitive tasks. A big challenge for they “are worth it”, special. Why should theymanagement is to try and bring as much variety suddenly feel less special when they turn upand interest as possible into even relatively to work? They may, not unreasonably, havemodest roles. The era of outsourcing and high expectations of how they will be treated.offshoring was supposed to mean that many And it’s not just supposedly selfish Generationlower value tasks would no longer have to be Y employees who are eager to learn more,performed by your staff, and that what was advance in their careers and have a sense Stefan Sternleft over would be appealing. Instead, badly of progress. Boredom at work can sap any- Stefan Stern is Director ofmanaged call centres and high street retail body’s morale. Strategy at Edelman andstores reveal just how miserable employees’ a Visiting Professor at Cass Business Schoollives can be made. We invest heavily, in terms of both time and emotions, in our work. The least a good email@example.com 6 7
Navigating the Channels The participative democracy of brand marketing in a bigger societyThe fact that the marketing world has – customers, employees, regulators, NGOs, to join in and participate on level terms. All channel management-by-discipline. Insteadchanged is hardly news. When Facebook businesses and brands – all have an equal of this is set against the backdrop of a four- they require Chief Content Officers who canhas over half a billion users and You Tube share of voice and fight to be heard. Brand screen world, in which apps and channels make real sense of a brand’s authentic storycelebrates its status as the world’s second marketers now have a far broader constitu- rule, and spending patterns must be reviewed and take a properly holistic and leadershiplargest search engine after Google (children ency with whom they need to engage, not and amended accordingly. position about where it is heading and withof the same parent anyway), ‘social’ or ‘new’ just to promote brands but also to protect whom it should be conversing. Whole trainingmedia is neither niche nor new. Meanwhile, and advance each company’s License to In marketing terms, the Big Society is growing programmes need to be reviewed and re-the more mainstream and traditional media Operate. The new stakeholder model of com- bigger now that we, the people, can create, vamped. Listening posts and embassies needinstitutions – from the BBC to the FT – are munication is live and real, and demands to publish, film, share, edit, socialise and more to be built and maintained.re-shaping both their content and their be activated. Shouting about it just will not cut alongside companies and brands. Contentplatforms to participate in this bigger, social, it anymore: brands need to come down from becomes all-important as brands try to cut There are inherent dangers in the new model.society. Everyone and everything is social the rooftops and jump right in. through this increasingly fragmented clutter The digital cul-de-sac, somewhere off thenow, but it’s a mistake to think this is all about with signal purpose and intent, rather than beaten path between broadcast and engage-the technology. It isn’t. Nowhere is this shift in model more pronounced fight one another with noise that can, in turn, ment, is a real and limiting destination for than in the permanent fracture between paid be negatively amplified by the atomisation of marketers. It is an expensive and lonely placeIn this shift from older, siloed, singular, broad- and earned media. The old structure has tools and channels. The marketer’s permanent where Return On Investment is marginalised,cast models to multi-lateral, multi-stakeholder been traumatised by the emergence of a third thirst for scale suddenly seems so much not maximised. Too many companies andengagement ones, the key word is partici- universe – owned media – which affirms every harder to attain: channels need to be worked brands currently languish in this cul-de-sac;pation. The new marketing democracy is a company’s power and authority to be a media harder and with a properly social emphasis. hoping to embrace the new, but insteadparticipative democracy, where everyone company in its own right, and thus its ability Consequently, brand owners no longer need mimicking the old – forcing (invariably filmed) 8 9
Ancontent down digital channels and assuming outreach and authority. These are partnershipsthat this is the true path towards enlightened with purpose, extending beyond the profitparticipation. It isn’t. It is just broadcasting by motive, to embrace all stakeholders in the Inappropriateanother name. participative democracy, occasionally uniting the public and private sectors.Participation – the holy grail of brand engage-ment – needs much more than a re-branding These behaviours are not accidental. They are Mediaof the old channel integration model. Participa- fundamental. They codify the new reality.tion demands a new set of behaviours, whichcan live healthily and thrive in the bigger Marketing channels which do not involve par-society. ticipative behaviours are effectively redundant in the bigger society because they transmit,These behaviours start with a recognition rather than engage, making the chances ofof the prevailing chaos, and the fact thatbrands must now be more prepared than ever rejection by digitally native consumers all the more likely. Furthermore, this combination of Why scepticism is good for democracybefore not only to experiment and learn, but channels and behaviours demands a newalso occasionally to fail – a new approach to approach to measuring success: traditionalnavigation, for sure. The bigger society also models are becoming increasingly fragmented,demands a new way of listening: send out and new, aligned models are necessarythe sterility of small focus groups, bring in the in the ‘one world’ of influence. The old,filtered wisdom of the crowd, and insights are broadcast measurements of mass audiencesuddenly all the more powerful for it. Stop/start have lost relevance in a world of networkedmarketing must be replaced by authentic communities and cross-influence betweenparticipation in conversation – in real time, all inter-dependent stakeholder groups. The newthe time. Marketers are coming to terms with participative democracy can thus only be Does the arrival of a coalition government – As one NGO leader recently put it: “Our medialiving in their customers’ worlds, rather than measured by whole outcomes, rather than and the promise of a new, Big Society – mean sector ...monumentally fails to inspire ourexpecting customers to live in theirs. In some channel-specific outputs. Marketers need to we also need a new journalism? Does a more society and continues to pursue a depressing,way, this is genuine customer-centricity: truly think about increased trust, deeper communi- open and collaborative politics deserve a self-flagellating, problem-focused, cynical,a new democracy. ties and behavioural change, alongside the more open and collaborative press? finger pointing, disease model of journalism… traditional hallmarks of commercial success What would it take for journalism to be aNew behaviours do not stop there. The content – because a bigger and more fragmented David Cameron set out his vision of a Big profession of appreciation and care for whatthat is the currency of these conversations society needs unifying and collective goals Society with a call for unity: “We are all in this works rather than what’s broken?”needs to be socialised across all media, as that benefit the many, not only the few. together. We need to draw on the skills andour more traditional institutions have quickly expertise of people across the country as we Oh dear.learned. Advocacy must be clear and openly respond to the social, political and economicdeclared: the era of spin is dead, slaughtered challenges Britain faces.” So, as government The problem, of course, is that it is not the Robert Phillipsat the altar of an inherently transparent world. seeks to encourage greater self determina- role of the media to inspire society. Its role Robert Phillips is UK CEOAnd, finally, we must recognise the new active of Edelman and Co-Chair tion, and as collaboration and compromise is to report, to probe and to hold to accountpartnerships that surround these marketing of Edelman’s Public are embraced in Downing Street and beyond, – which is rather different. Politicians can Engagement groupuniverses of owned, earned and paid media; are the scepticism and critical agendas of inspire, but with elected power comes respon-of applications, experiences and expert firstname.lastname@example.org news desks still appropriate? sibility to which they must be held. 10 11
Of course, in 1997, the arrival of Labour was that volunteers will tend park flower-beds and optimistically greeted as a new dawn: a vision man museums as the state retreats… Most of a bright, successful Britain. So today as charities dare not protest on the record, afraid the coalition sets out to build another vision for their surviving grants, but in private they of a bright future in the face of deeply difficult are aghast.” economic circumstances, we can be sure that all will not go well. It never does. And those Devolved powers may require even more awkward, cynical inappropriate questions scrutiny. Who is accountable? And how can offer our self-determining democracy the best we hold the decision-makers to account? Are chance of finding out what’s going wrong, equal standards and fairness being applied? where and why. With local and regional news in decline, the oversight of the Big Society is likely to be frag- Media reports of bad relations between 10 mentary at best. The Big Society may devolve and 11 Downing Street under both Thatcher some public services to those who do know and Blair were dismissed at the time as trivial how to do them. Or it may not. We will need gossip. Then the memoirs came out and to ask questions and probe to be sure. the rumours were revealed not only to be true, but also to be crucial indicators of the In part, the Big Society is intended to be a health of the Government. Politicians eager means for government to deal directly with to preach about public standards and values communities, cutting out the cynical media. were revealed to be at best confused, and at But I for one will want those awkward and worst hypocritical, when it came to their own uncomfortable questions to go on being expenses – details of which had to be prised asked on our behalf. There may be good from their unwilling hands. answers, or there may not, but as citizensLet’s take the cynicism question first. From “They left us with a legacy of spinning, smear- we need to know.the world-weary stereotype of the jaded hack, ing, briefing, back-biting, half-truths and cover- For many, the vision of a Big Society is notto the drawn-out sigh as Jeremy Paxman ups, patronising, old-fashioned, top-down, necessarily a positive one. As Polly Tonybee A probing, sceptical, unlovable, and evenasks yet another difficult question, cynicism wasteful, centralising, inefficient, ineffective, put it in The Guardian: inappropriate press remains indispensable.seems to be accepted as a journalistic unaccountable politics, 10p tax and 90 days’disease. But even when the press is at its detention, an election bottled and a referen- “The Cameron/Maude vision looks likeunaccountable, cynical worst, it is still essential dum denied, gold sold at half price, council warmed over Victorianism, sepia-colouredto the healthy functioning of a mature tax doubled, bad news buried and Mandelson with a little 1950s national service for the idledemocracy. History suggests that even the resurrected, pension funds destroyed and young. It is certainly a pre-trade union ideabest-intentioned political initiatives should not foreign prisoners not deported, Gurkhas keptbe left unscrutinised. out, extremist preachers allowed in. Yes, they deserve some of the blame and, I’ll tell youDavid Cameron, in his speech to the Con- what, we’ll never let them forget it.” Richard Sambrookservative Party conference, offered us one Richard Sambrook is Global Viceexplanation. Reflecting on 13 years of Labour A harsh judgement, and one with which not Chairman and Chief Content Officer at Edelmangovernment he said: everyone would agree. email@example.com 12 13
To the Enable Big Society,Think Smaller Hyperlocal media is best placed to energise and organise communitiesIn the discussion about the future of local and communities. The reach of local TV, radio trees in London may have been unveiled in personal opinion; crowd-sourcing content;regional media in the UK, the government has and newspapers has been determined by the Evening Standard, but it took root at a and the idea of ‘small is big’, in which thedecided to encourage innovation, rather than economies of scale, rather than the needs of hyperlocal level, where communities could impact of news is considered more importantattempt to prop up failing business models. the local community. But the media map of plot locations to the nearest paving slab. than its scale. In other words, hyperlocalBloggers have been consulted, ownership Britain shouldn’t be divided in to dozens, or media is engaged and passionate. Issues canrules relaxed, and new consortia invited to even hundreds, of parcels. Communities aren’t Hyperlocal communities serve neighbour- be revisited again and again – sometimes intender for local broadcast news licenses. regional, or even local: they are hyperlocal. hoods with inhabitants numbering from the excruciating detail – until an answer is found hundreds to the tens of thousands, and often and a solution implemented.But the biggest innovation of all would be Just as motivated employees understand the employ multiple platforms. But technologyto completely re-imagine what kind of local link between their work and their company’s and size aren’t their defining characteristics One significant cluster of hyperlocal communi-media we need. The question is not how do performance, so volunteers need to be able – hyperlocals are distinguished by their ties can be found in South East London, wherewe make the current media map economically to understand how their participation will relationship with the community and by sites like Greenwich Phantom, East Dulwichviable, but rather, is the existing pattern of transform the world outside their front door. their approach to the local news agenda. Forum, 853blog, the Kidbrooke Kite, and mycoverage desirable at all? Hyperlocal translates the political into the own Brockley Central, rub shoulders and share practical, recruiting volunteers, supporting Sarah Hartley, editor of Guardian Local, links, stories and information. The editors areTraditional regional and local media are – independent businesses and mobilising public identifies the key characteristics of hyperlocal all motivated by the same desire: to correct thefor the most part – the wrong size to unite opinion. The Mayor’s plan to plant more as author participation; blending facts with failings of local newspapers and expand their 14 15
The Passionlocal news diet beyond stabbings, angry So what can government and media groups ofmobs and mayoral pronouncements. do? One precedent is The Guardian’s London Blog, which aggregates the best of London’s hyperlocals, and has established reciprocal ContentThe smartest businesses and local authori-ties have cottoned on to this opportunity. In relationships with each of them. As hyperlocalEast Dulwich, the train station manager has grows critical mass, commercial models willbecome a folk hero after using the local forum become viable. We are unlikely to see hyper-to consult with passengers about how to local millionaires, but niche digital communitiesimprove the service – his thread currently runs are capable of providing enough incometo 32 pages. to make full or part-time professionally runYet, there is a threat to hyperlocal media: sites viable. Curation cuts through the clutterthe fragility of individual communities and a Government can work with hyperlocalreliance on individuals with no money, social editors, providing interviews and content,lives or succession plans. Jason Cobb runs treating writers with respect and engagingOnion Bag, which used to be a community readers in conversation. Media brands canblog for his area of South London. When he leverage their influence to drive traffic andmoved to Essex earlier this year, he took his add legitimacy to communities, aggregatingcommunity site with him, and Stockwell has content and becoming hyperlocal hubs.not yet been able to replace it. His story is not Council newspapers can be shut down in “There are the things you do because it’s your passion, things that fire you up inunusual, and erratic coverage is no way to run favour of working with hyper local communi- The morning, that drive you, that you truly believe will make a real difference to thea Big Society, which is why some London ties to promote initiatives. country you love, and my great passion is building the big society.”councils have begun to explore ways of David Cameroncreating a more robust network of sites. So the future is hyper local. It’s not theory, it’s happening now – but its roots need to be Passion is a very powerful motivating force replaced with an active, enabled and passionateThe answer is not to create publicly-run sites. broader and deeper. All that government and indeed; one that drives behavior with a public who can make their voices heard.Official sites don’t lend themselves to robust media groups need to do is embrace it. compelling energy. Passionate people anddebate and rarely make for entertaining read- passionate experiences rise above the rest, This shift brings with it a raft of content. You-ing. For hyperlocal sites to provide interesting and this, surely, is what David Cameron hopes Tube, with 2 billion videos watched each day,and challenging content every day, they need for: that we can be noticed, deliver action and brings together stories and experiences fromto be open to provocative views and to be share experience for the benefit of all. across cultures. Add in Facebook (over 500able to challenge authority. They occasionally million users), Twitter (over 175 million users),need to be rude, argumentative, frivolous or This Big Society’s positioning is not theoretical: and an immeasurable number of blogs, andpointless, because that’s what real community it’s based on the realisation that society has you have a great deal of stuff – from tragic toconversations are like. A self-sustaining com- Nick Barron already changed. Cameron is addressing comedic, from campaigns to anecdotes, frommunity comes from recreating the atmosphere Nick Barron is Deputy Managing people who are not only passionate about the personal to the professional. Director at Edelman and runsof the high street or the local pub, with readers many things, but are also able to communi- Brockley Central, a hyperlocal sitereturning to participate, providing more and syndicated by The Guardian and cate this passion directly. The explosion of The challenge, then, isn’t getting contentmore comments and stories of their own. So ranked in the top 10 most influential digital channels is part of a shift from a media out there: it’s being heard and being seen, London blogs by Wikioit goes. which talks at people to one which listens to it’s engaging people and driving action and firstname.lastname@example.org them too. Passive communication is gone, change. The Big Society may hope for a new, 16 17
subjects around the world. Consumers expect Wife’ and ‘Mad Men’, to ‘Downton Abbey’ the companies they engage with to have and ‘The X-Factor’, the public embraces personality and purpose. They want a consis- content, talking about it, criticising it and en- tent experience and a recognisable positioning gaging with it. Meanwhile, YouTube, the go-to that adds value to their own experience or search engine for video content, is effectively interest, and this is as true of the content that becoming an archive of entertainment. Talk- brands produce as it is of the products that back Thames lost their initial hesitancy about they offer. posting X-Factor segments on YouTube after realising that if they didn’t do it, their consum- Participation and contribution may have been ers would, thereby diluting the quality of the democratised, but there is still an underlying experience. Participation was essential, but it need to produce good content. Edelman had to come from a starting point that flattered ensures that clients have access to stellar the brand. production experience. From CBS Paramount, to Ridley Scott’s Scott Free and companies Passion, then, is certainly alive and well in such as Headline Pictures, through to small, the production, distribution and sharing of dynamic production companies, our clients content, but it cannot ensure success and enjoy the expertise of film and TV companies visibility on its own. It needs a little help from at the top of their fields; hugely respected the experts, from the curators and editors who teams which know how to make films, and can reach out to the passion sets and help how to effectively editorialise brands and good content to rise above the rest. Cameron companies. These are the curators, the says that he wants to “create communities experts, the editors. The productions are with oomph”. We know that they are already available for all to participate in, but the there. We just have to engage them by sharingshared responsibility, but the noise from this that we can develop content which cuts starting points – the initial curation and editor- respected, appropriate and stellar contentsociety is overwhelming. The democracy of through and inspires. ship – are premium. with them.contribution is, theoretically, liberating, but inpractice delivers an awful lot of clutter. If the This brings us back to the ‘brand’ question. This insight here is critical: people still wantBig Society means that everyone produces, Brands now have their own channels – they professional content. The professionals arewho curates? Who separates art from junk, have the opportunity to act as media in their still driving what we watch – it’s how we Jackie Coopersignal from noise? How do we differentiate own right, and thus have essential roles to play. watch it that has changed. From ‘The Good Jackie Cooper is Creative Director and Vice Chair at Edelman andbetween engaging content and wallpaper? Rather than simply adding more (commercial) co-founder of the Content practiceIf everyone is empowered is it just a content noise to the clutter, they should act as cura- email@example.com? tors and editors, as the most engaging and successful campaigns of recent months haveIt comes down to passion. Demographics are done. Think of Pepsi Refresh, which empow-meaningless against the content continuum: ered consumers to realise their ideas for goodaudiences are defined by their passion sets, (very “Big Society”), or Puma’s support for David Fineclustering around the people, interests and Channel 4’s Brit Doc film roster, which helped David Fine is Director of Content at Edelman Londonissues that mean something to them. It is people to make documentaries that couldthrough understanding these passion sets change perceptions of a host of different firstname.lastname@example.org 18 19
EngagementThrough Play: How games shape the new realityDuring a recent talk at TED, psychiatrist The bear returned to play every afternoon for and the development of social constructs. Multiplayer Online games (MMOs). Games likeStuart Brown used a series of photographs ten days in a row. If we want to belong, we need social play. World of Warcraft, Second Life and Farmvilletaken by Norbert Rosing at a kennel outside Rough and tumble play develops our social, are partly responsible for the fact that we nowChurchill, Manitoba, to demonstrate the The science behind this seemingly strange cognitive, emotional and physical traits. collectively spend 3 billion hours a week play-power of play. behavioural change can be explained with a Spectator play, ritual play and imaginative play ing computer and video games. The average more familiar example: a mother and baby all develop our imagination and our capacity person turning 21 will already have spentThe images show a polar bear taking an playing together. The mother’s cooing and for storytelling, among other things. 10,000 hours of their life playing games onlineunexpected interest in one of the tethered smiling triggers a harmonious attunement of – only 80 hours fewer than children in thedogs. While the other dogs became agitated the pair, which can be recorded by electro- Until recently, play – and particularly its most United States spend in school from fifth gradeas the bear approached, one, named Hudson, cardiograms and electroencephalograms. modern iteration, gaming – were considered to high school graduation.“calmly stood his ground and began wagging In both humans and animals, Brown asserts, the preserve of children or immature adults.his tail.” To Rosing’s surprise, the two “put the act of play can induce altered physical Now, however, the increased availability of To some, these figures may seem worrying –aside their ancestral animus,” gently touched and psychological states. high speed internet access across much but gamers might be on to something. Gamenoses and apparently made friends. They of the developed world, combined with play is extremely productive: it produces thebegan playing together “like two roughhousing Researchers and psychologists have long the ubiquity of social frameworks such as positive emotions scientists say are crucialkids,” tumbling around in the snow while accepted these effects, and the associated Facebook, has created a new, demographi- to our health and success. In ‘This MightRosing photographed the surreal encounter. benefits – particularly the links between play cally inclusive category of games: Massively Be a Game’, Jane McGonigal suggests that 20 21
Thepositive traits induced by gaming include Fan, are offering services to help content Bigthe energetic willingness of players to attack publishers add badges, virtual currency, and Canproblems that they are confident of solving; other game mechanics features to existingthe strong sense of community and trust felt websites. These services may be basic,by game players; heightened productivity, and relying on social competition and the premise Societythe empowerment and optimism experienced of exclusivity, but they have all successfullyby gamers, who “believe they’re individually created a game layer in the real world.capable of changing the world”. Similarly,research from major universities such as Introducing elements of games into the real BiteBackStanford and MIT shows that we like and world – positioning tasks within stories, creat-trust others more after we’ve played a game ing internal economies, and implementingtogether – even if they’ve beaten us – and are participant-driven communication systems –more likely to help someone in real life after can further boost engagement, enhancewe’ve helped them in a co-operative game. collaboration and encourage creative leader-Games aren’t just making us happier – they ship. A renewed interest in play and its concreteare also helping us to engage with others. applications has the potential to bring aboutIn ‘Total Engagement’, Prof Byron Reeves a more meaningful level of engagement: gami- fication can create an experience which is so A citizen perspectiveanticipates that companies and brands will pleasurable that we choose to participate forsoon borrow heavily from game worlds and the mere sake of enjoyment.their mechanics by introducing elements of“sophisticated play” into their communications The question is, are you ready to play?and messaging. Some of these ideas havebegun to gain traction over the past year or so,and have given birth to a new trend, known It is, admittedly, early days but opinion is neither the resources, nor the people, nor,as gamification, which is increasingly being divided as to whether David Cameron’s sadly, the will, currently exists to pick up theadopted by consumer brands. 7-Eleven has ‘Big Society’ is a genuine commitment to slack created by the shift from state to society.gamified the in-store experience through citizenship and civic responsibility or a clever A new mutualism may well be needed, but it iscollaboration with MMO powerhouse, Farm- ideological play to dramatically reduce the size not yet existent, let alone sufficiently robust toville, and Toyota has used iPhone apps to of the state, delivering a Grantham fist within a shoulder the burden that will inevitably follow.gamify its efficient driving initiatives, while Notting Hill glove.H&M’s recent “The Blues” campaign targeted Yet, even if Britain is not structurally fit formobile shoppers to increase their retail store There is a certainly an overture of hope in the Big Society’s purposes in health, educationfootfalls. Cameron vision: that Britain will return to an and welfare, we should at least recognise the imaginary golden age, a heady mix of Victorian refreshed and dynamic power of the citizenBridging the gap between online and offline, paternalism and ‘50s nostalgia. It’s an appeal within. This is the citizen on whom the Gov-location-based services such as Foursquare or Antoine Soussaline to the Cadburys, Quakers and Florence ernment has pinned its hopes: a citizen whoGowalla are awarding virtual badges for real- Antoine Soussaline is Nightingales within us all; a twenty-first century may well bite back in new and unexpected Edelman Digital’s Productionworld accomplishments. Meanwhile, a flurry of Anglicisation of the twentieth-century American ways. It’s for this reason that understanding Director in Londonangel and venture-backed startups, including dream. No matter that the infrastructure of our the art, or the science, of conversation is nowBigDoor, Reputely, Badgeville, and OneTrue- email@example.com nation remains fractured, if not broken; that more important than ever before. 22 23
the new accountability that this brings is real, Any institution that ignores this fundamental not perceived. shift in the nature of power and conversation does so at its peril. This applies not only to There has been a fundamental shift in the government, but also to every business or balance of power away from these institutions brand, any employee or institution. The Big and towards the people. This shift, in turn, Society of Opinion is out there and it moves at continues to drive behavioural change in the lightning speed. Those in authority might be workplace; through the supply chain; at the till asking what it is that we can do for them, but point and, in time, at the ballot box, too. The we, perhaps, should be asking something too: means of access has opened up to ensure not what they can do for us, but what it is that that ‘they’ are no longer in control within this we should be doing together. This is what we new, more level democracy. It is driving a mean by co-creation: a new mutualism and a deep and permanent change in the relation- more level democracy. ships between government, businesses, brands, the media, and us, the people, too. In conversation terms, therefore, The Big They live in our world now; rather than we Society should be an open one, between in theirs, and the conversation takes place genuine equals. Within this, an authentic on our terms. This re-calibration is real and balance of power can emerge, not just one exciting. of grandiose hope and false expectation, dictated by the few on high unto the many Shared interests can now collide and below. Government, businesses and brands coalesce. New governments and unlikely can embrace the wisdom and insights of the alliances are formed on this basis, while, at a citizen crowd. They will enjoy deeper insights corporate level, we have witnessed the open- and a more powerful mandate for doing so.Just as politicians are meant to campaign in our social networks and in the media. We ing of an entirely new category – owned me- The conversation is there for the making, andpoetry but govern in prose, so a distinctly are all actionists and activists now – even dia – as companies both recognise the new from this conversation a more real, resilientanalogue 2010 General Election campaign though we may not recognise it fully. Indeed, equality and realise their own ability to publish and deliverable Big Society will most likelydelivered the Government into a properly although the Government seems to know that and converse through channels like Facebook result.digital world. The UK media and conversa- things are heading this way, and businesses, or Your Tube. The media isn’t always needed,tional landscape in which the Coalition now brands and the media are already learning while citizen-consumers can always talk back.finds itself is one in which part of the societal and embracing the new reality, we citizens, Thumbs-up and thumbs-down symbols areshift from state institution to liberated citizen Potteresque, have still to discover the power easy metaphors for what we like and dislikehas already occurred. What’s more, it’s a of the magic within. about the world around us. The trick is toshift that will now only accelerate in line with avoid X-Factor-ising everything; to distinguishthe penetration of mobile phones and faster It is in the conversational interplay between between the vital and the mundane; thebroadband. the three formerly great institutions of media, poetry and the prose. politics and business that our big society is Robert Phillips As citizens, we may not yet be ready to at once both most transformative and most Robert Phillips is UK CEObecome either part-time carers or welfare-to- fragile. The ‘actionist’ and ‘activist’ labels are of Edelman and blogs at www.citizenrenaissance.comwork gardeners, but we are happy both to not to be treated lightly. Transparency is thehave a voice and to share it, loudly, through default setting of the post-Internet age and firstname.lastname@example.org 24 25
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