Saturday, 4 October 2008

Dear David..

I woke up this morning to discover Gordon Brown has emailed me. He's beginning to make a habit of this.

And I for one, am pretty damn pleased he is.

In the past, the party would solely use emails as the web equivalent of the direct marketing mail.

As such, a member's response would be exactly the same as opening a DM letter - brief scan, see they want money, bin it.

I'm glad to see that's changing.

Yesterday's moves were quite remarkable - well, one certainly was. Watching yesterday's TV and today's papers would normally reinforce those concerns. I see the Daily Mail's headline is 'Arise Lord Sleaze.'

That's why Gordon's email works. It's a personal and intimate communication that has no other agenda other than to explain his decision. Take a look:

Dear David

You will have seen from the news that I have carried out changes in the Government today. I wanted to contact you directly to let you know the thinking behind these changes.

We are living through the first truly global financial crisis that started in America, but where we must in Britain now do everything we can to ensure the stability of our economic system.

Serious people are needed for these serious times. Margaret Beckett has come back into Government and I have also promoted some of our Party’s best new talent to help deal with the new challenges we face.

I want to reconstruct the way we govern to meet these challenges. Therefore I have created a new National Economic Council and put it on a day-to-day footing. It will meet for the first time on Monday.

I have brought back Peter Mandelson from Brussels to lead our Business Department. Peter has been a European Commissioner of great distinction. He has unrivalled experience in international business issues and has built a reputation over these last few years as someone who can get things done.

I believe the changes I have announced today are in the national interest. Our undivided attention must be on the security of millions of families and households who have been facing higher bills and now face the uncertainty caused by the financial failures in America and elsewhere.

Thank you for all that you do.

Gordon Brown

That's quite alright, Gordon. And thanks for all you do too!

The email wasn't edited, censored or misquoted. It simply provided a context and reasoning for the reshuffle. As such, I think it will go quite some way to allaying certain members' doubts.

But moving forward, I'd like to see Labour going much further, taking a leaf out of the Democrats book and telling supporters first.

Obama asked his supporters to register their details to find out who his VP choic was. They then received a text before the journalists - they felt included, special and that they mattered more. (Also, a very clever way of capturing data - I think Obama will be sending a few more texts before the campaign's over!)

So imagine how powerful it would have been for members and supporters to find out about the Cabinet reshuffle BEFORE the media.

When we engage with supporters, they respond well. 2.9 million registered for Obama's texts and Go Fourth - the Campaign for a Labour Fourth Term - had a remarkable reaction at conference which has now been transferred to the social networks.

A party member set up a Go Fourth Facebook group. Within two weeks it's gone from a handful of supporters to 1,400 - that's 100 new friends every day. It now has more Facebook supporters than Compass, Progress and even Conservative Future.

They may not all become active supporters but they will be effective advocates. Studies have shown that those who read blogs and actively use Facebook are seven times more likely to be an influencer or opinion former.

So next time you have a big announcement Gordon, why not send an email with this intro:

Dear David

I've carried out changes to the Government today.

But I wanted you to be the FIRST to know.

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