So what was the whole #digitalep thing like?

Stephen Clarke and myself looking our usual serious selves

Stephen Clarke and myself looking our usual serious selves

I had the pleasure of being invited to participate in a panel at the Centre-Edelman, in relation to the launch of their new study “The 2010 Capital Staffers Index“, which looks at the use of social media and more traditional lobbying means (e.g. writing letters, face-to-face meetings) and how they are perceived by the assistants of MPs and MEPs in the US, at the European Parliament, and in France, Germany and the UK.

I must admit that the results were not entirely surprising, except maybe for the continued attachment by French MPs to handwritten letters….I mean come one: is that a paper or a pen lobby going on?

The panel was made up of myself (for the “view of the lobbyist” touch), Stephen Clark (Head of the EP’s web comms unit, aka @stctweets) and MEP Judith Sargentini (@judithineuropa).

Everyone of us seemed to be on the same wavelength on most issues except, funnily, the fact that both Stephen and Judith disagreed with my perception that Twitter was “time-saving”. It is funny in a way that the general agreement in society at this stage still seems to be that social media induces procrastination (which is true) and this makes you waste time (which, to me, is not true). Though I know the image people have of lobbyists is that of mercenaries cruising the corridors of Parliament to convince naïve politicians with a 15 minute elevator pitch, that makes up, quite frankly, for only 20% of my time (and, by the way, they’re not that naïve). The remaining 80% are split between a lovely 5% allocated to bookkeeping and various fascinating reporting activities to clients and 75% of getting to grips with the issues that I have to advocate on. For that portion of my time, Twitter is just an extraordinary source of relevant information. Yes, it is time consuming but then doing random keyword searches and clicking on non-relevant links is even more so.

So I stand by statement that social media can be a time-saver if used well (and truly: use two screens, it will save your life)! And, by the way, procrastination is sometimes a good way to regain a form of sanity so even there, there are hidden benefits.

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  1. Thanks for the tip of hacing two screens! Now I understand why it makes sense.

  2. It was a good event, and some really interesting research, which, I am relieved to find, confirms our own impressions of the way things are going. I am intrigued by the notion that Facebook might be losing its momentum. It seems a little soon for that, though I suppose it could reflect a degree of saturation and “going mainstream”.
    On time, I should say that the opposite of time saving is not necessarily “time wasting”. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I think social media activities are a waste of time. They are time consuming though, yet another thing to do…
    Finally, I’m on the two-screen thing a lot of the time too now. Time-saving maybe, but can also be distracting!

  3. Agreed on the time consuming aspect :) R Facebook losing momentum, I wonder if it is not to put in relation with your remark that there is always a “hard core” of MEPs that will not “do” social media? Facebook has been picked up more quickly than Twitter so the growth curve is maybe reaching it’s “plateau”.
    Anyway, it was fun to sit on the panel with you!

  4. Great! Thanks! Exactly the title I would google when I missed an event I was interested in! Congrats!


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