Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/10/28/text_government/

Unspinning the government by text message

RU vtng 2dy?

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Policy, 28th October 2005 15:31 GMT

The government thinks that it can better engage with the public by sending it text messages. Oh deep joy.

We're not sure where the government is going to get everyone's mobile phone number from. A quick straw poll in the office reveals that none of us will be handing ours over voluntarily, and we suspect we are not alone in this.

But the head of PR in Whitehall, Howell James, reckons new technology, i.e. texting or corporate intranets, would be better at getting the government's message across than, oh, trying to get untarnished copy into the nasty newspapers.

The BBC explains that James has been tasked with rebuilding trust in the government, poor man, following spin related debacles too numerous to mention in detail. If we were to say "45 minutes", or "a good day to bury bad news" you'd probably know what we were talking about.

Anyway, James seems to think that more direct communication with Joe Public will help. He suggests promoting anti-drugs events to young people by texting them. Other public information could be distributed via large company's internal communication systems.

In support of his idea of direct contact, he said that research had shown 60 per cent of the population was aware of the leafleting campaign advising people how to respond to a national emergency.

James was speaking at the first hearing of the Public Administration Committee since he took up his post. ®