PRINZ event – Creating a movement for change

10 Nov

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The PRINZ Student Ambassador Programme allows students studying relevant qualifications to become involved and engaged in the communication and public relations industry. The programme gives students a head-start in the industry, encouraging them to participate in the PRINZ community. This blog post is written by Charlotte Wright, PRINZ Student Ambassador at Massey University Wellington.

On Thursday 13 October, PRINZ hosted members in the stunning setting of the Grand Hall at Wellington’s Parliamentary Buildings. The event which was hosted by Melissa Lee, National MP bought together three political experts Andrew Kirton, New Zealand Labour Party; Richard Harman, Politik; Jenna Raeburn, Barton Deakin and one experienced journalist Sean Plunket. The event led to an impassioned discussion on the insights of political campaigning. The panel was asked a variety of questions that both allowed them to provide insight to their thoughts on successful campaigning and also challenged their perspectives. PRINZ was fortunate to have Sean Plunket as the interviewer, who has a strong background in politics, leading the discussion.

Richard Harman gave some interesting points on how campaigns have changed over the last forty years, saying that what was once a “linear, rigid, and sometimes totally boring” subject to report on, political journalism is now focused more on entertainment and encouragement of ‘gotcha journalism’. He went on to explain that “a lot of people out there are looking to ankle tap politicians” to get noticed in the media space.

Jenna Raeburn elaborated on this and explained how campaigns are “changing exponentially” and that the use of data, technology and social media are all now critical tools in targeting specific demographics during campaigns. “You used to have to call, and then visit a target to find out which way they might vote, but now data on Facebook shows us this already, so we can target instantly and with purpose,” she said. She also discussed how the immediacy of social media and online news made rectifying media errors a tough task, saying that it was a long a difficult process to unwind what people hear in the media to ensure accuracy.

Andrew Kirton agreed that it was important for campaigns to integrate social media into their strategies, but assured that the Labour Party were not going to ignore more traditional methods of outreach in next year’s campaign. He said that the way news operates was changing, and by analysing the way people are using media, they would re-balance their campaign priorities and tactics accordingly. He noted that he didn’t think that the New Zealand media would act like the U.S media have in the lead up to the U.S election, saying that the Kiwi culture understands “not to be too silly” when it comes to political reporting.

After some moments of heated discussion, the conversation closed with the panellists’ final thoughts on the New Zealand media space and the role of journalism in society. They all agreed that good journalists were the ones that fact checked, got both sides of the story, and acted as a fourth estate – however, this was at risk with journalistic pressures and the likely possibility of a Fairfax and NZME merger. “Duplicating stories across the media space with no fact-checking and taking out the competition will be bad,” Richard Harman concluded – and an equally risky possibility could be that access to the media could be restricted with a pay-wall, which will mean that media consumption could soon be “a thing for the rich,” he said, looking concerned.

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