Is this the worst lobbying campaign – ever?

No, it probably isn’t but it’s recent which is why I react. Still, the campaign might beat the pens I wrote about in the post” Why are there so many bad Public Affairs campaigns?”

emmaWhat makes it so fascinating is that it comes from a gathering of interest groups that should know something about communications: European Federation of Journalists, European Magazine Media Association, European Newspaper Publishers’ Association and European Publishers Council. It is a pity they went down this road because they are trying to achieve something that is extremely dear and close to my heart –safeguarding freedom of press and public access to documents. So it makes it all together sadder when they mess up like they do. It started last Friday, when a representative for one of these groups called and wanted to follow-up on their sending this petition. Nothing strange about that, on the contrary it’s quite advisable to do. Only she called on a speaker phone and from what seemed to be a child care centre filled with energetic and happily playing children, loud happy children, which gave the phrase “dynamic phone call” a whole new meaning.

And I don’t want to be arrogant – but the office in-box is filled with petitions and requests and proposals and without any doubt they are all highly important and affect a lot of people. It is a question about time and possibilities and taking into account our constituency’s interest; since they elected us on a programme they can expect us to work according to that programme first and foremost. This issue here is, however, right up our tree.

During the Friday conversation I asked the person on the other side of the phone to resend the petition and please, in the email could she write a couple – max. 10 – bullet points of what they want to achieve and what they hope we would do? And I would see to that the message was put in the hands of the Member of European Parliament I work with. Needless to say, nothing came.

This morning another person called from the same constellation and for the same follow-up. So either they are eager or they have limited internal communications. It was good that he did because now, finally, I got the petition and the bullet points and it is worse than I could imagine. Interesting is that that they don’t propose any amendments or changing the writing of the article in question, they are simply asking us to sign a petition. To what avail? What do they think they will achieve with that petition?

A simple well thought through campaign starting earlier in the process and not two days before the vote, could have changed the outcome of the vote. Now, the results and the future state of press freedom are anybody’s guess…



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