Communications and spin and the National Broadband Network

Today’s media talk about the latest progress, messages and political positions linked to Australia’s National Broadband Network. (See Jennifer Hewitt and John McDuling in the Australian Financial Review, 3oth March 2012. Sorry, I’m struggling to find it in The Australian.)

In particular, Hewitt discusses the messages being used by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister Stephen Conroy, which distil down to a choice between “broadband” with Labor, or “no broadband” with the Liberal-National opposition.

This strikes me as effective, especially for something as complex (technologically, financially and politically) as the National Broadband Network (NBN). I don’t agree that this is spin, beyond the undoubted fact that it has one particular bias to it, that of the government. But that’s intrinsic and obvious, and the opposition is duty bound to take an alternative position, whatever that may be.

I wonder how far the government might be prepared to go with its messaging, and how many Plays it might want to consider running.

How about messages around creating a 21st century infrastructure to replace an early-mid 20th century copper one, which Calls Out the opposition’s declared preference to re-use existing technology.

How about messages on ease of movement within Australia (such as when moving house) to replace the situation that stills seems common today. The argument that an alternative to a fibre network laid to the home, created from a composite of existing and improved technologies, doesn’t wash because it doesn’t deliver today. We all know of stories about people moving houses or seeking to connect new ones, either to an existing broadband network or to an ADSL service, and waiting weeks to do so. I have a friend who has done just this, who is both disabled and running a business. As I write this, he remains completely cut off from anything other than mobile broadband, despite weeks of planning and negotiating with one of the incumbent telcos in Australia.

This message is a Challenge to those opposing the NBN, perhaps a Bait.

A broadband network (using the indefinite article) to the home (however long it takes to complete) will, in essence, allow users to plug in and go, and go at high speed.

Finally, what about messages about how the (definite article) NBN  is in fact dismantling the status quo and creating a new one for the future? It is understandable that political and commercial interests become concerned at something that breaks new ground. Neither negates the essential benefits to the nation and to us as individuals.

From the perspective of running Plays (see for the definitions of the Plays mentioned above), all these force the opposition into taking a reactive stance.

That gives the government the lead in the debate, and leading the debate gives you the advantage.

That’s effective communications.

About alansmithoz

Head of Strategic Business Communications at Australian social analytics technology company Digivizer, with a background in corporate public relations and marketing. I do what I do because I believe communications can make a difference.
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