We had a presentation by a government communication specialist. He had plenty of interesting facts and statistics, such as the percentage of people in Singapore who visited government website, certain age groups accessibility to Internet, effects of the online media on mainstream media, etc. However, despite his many varied stories, cases as well as an interesting Hitler video, he failed to capture the attention of the audience.
I, personally, am very interested in the stories and the theories behind the stories. Particularly interesting was how the government, or “gah-men” as he pronounced it, strives to work in the age of instant information and 6 seconds gratification. Perhaps it was the fact that we were approaching the end of the day after weeks of courses and lectures. He had the unfortunate fate of presenting late in the afternoon after a heavy lunch.
Still, as a communication expert, one would think that he would be more proficient at getting his point across. For one, I don’t even know what his point was? As I remarked to my friend, “If this is a sample of government communication, no wonder the private bloggers and new media websites have more success than them at getting messages across to the public.”
It is not a matter of getting hype on gore and blood or gossip and scandals. It goes beyond the false bravery of striking at the bad government or bashing of a common foe. Just on the mode of narrative only, the government agencies have a long way to go. Oh, there have been excellent instances where the agencies have resounding success, such as the “Ah Boys to Men”, SPF and the Navy’s selected advertisement which resonates with the public. However, why has the successes been far and few in between?
As I hear the presentation yesterday, I can’t help but question, if he were to do this as a individual, or private citizen, would the presentation be different? I have, over the course of this year, heard representatives from organizations who are inspiring, passionate and, simply, awesome. In fact, just the same morning as the communication specialist’s presentation, we had an excellent discussion with a military commander who, with simple words and a few slides, challenged a whole auditorium of officers and moved us to inspiration of command with practical down to earth advices.
Here is also a difference between working for passion and working for a job. The difference, as you probably can guess by my tone, is in the passion for the job. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Since it is impossible to get everyone inspired on their job nor is every job inspiring, what is the other option to motivate and inspire? The other option, other than inspiring passion, is to inspire fear. When a people is vulnerable to losing his job, livelihood or family, he is inspired, motivated or stressed.
Linking this back to the Singapore story, (sorry, this is a long link) the original story was that Singapore was a vulnerable small country, in danger of being swallowed up by our bigger neighbors. This galvanized the society as differences of race, religion and education were set aside for all to work together for “the greater good”. Once the euphoria of vulnerability is over and the people begins to feel fatigued and weary, once standard of living goes up and what was once previous are taken for granted, the inspiration of fear loses it effectiveness. Now, the nation must seek a new narrative, a new motivation. the inspiration of passion must take over.
If only the government communication specialist had put in passion to his presentation, he has so much information to impart to the audience in front of him. Perhaps he is motivated and passionate and it just did not come across that way. Perhaps it was, as I mentioned, simply fatigue on the audience’s part. However, I know that for me, I rather work for passion than fear.