Sunday, March 11, 2007

Establishing a Human Voice to Maintain Credibility

Governor Deval Patrick utilized podcasts in the beginning of his term to give him a human quality that is rarely associated with people in positions of power. Throughout his campaign, he maintained an open relationship with his supporters through consumer generated media. The grassroots nature of his campaign gave him credibility as a genuine person instead of as an authoritative member of the establishment. According to an article in the Boston Globe from Saturday March 10th entitled “Patrick’s ratings on podcasts dip”, the popularity of his podcasts has declined since he first entered office. In his first podcast, he drew in 3,312 viewers by “offer[ing] a folksy greeting and self-effacing anecdotes about his adjustment to State House life”. Conversely, in his podcast a month later he mechanically restated his speech about his fiscal plan for 2008 and attracted a mere 532 viewers. Between these two podcasts there were criticisms in regards to some of Patrick’s decisions, including the highly publicized phone call to Citigroup.

This example speaks to the fact that credibility and trust must exist if a prominent figure or organization wants to utilize consumer generated media to connect with consumers or supporters. The Cluetrain Manifesto states that organizations must adopt a human voice to communicate with their audience; therefore, the transparency of Patrick’s campaign coupled with his image as a “real person” attracted more people to his podcasts and exposed more people to his message. However, because his image has been tarnished and his podcasts have adopted a more mechanical tone, people are less interested in listening to his message. I would suggest that if Governor Patrick had maintained his image of a charismatic, yet vulnerable change agent, his podcast ratings would not have dropped so significantly, if at all.


1 comment:

Katie said...

I agree with Andrea's suggestion of Governor Patrick maintaining his credibility through authenticity. But I think it is difficult to be completely authentic when it comes to politics. There is that challenge to balance how you feel about an issue with an obligation to tell people what they want to hear. Still, it would have obviously been better for him to keep the honesty in his podcasts.