That’s a lesson that I learned quite early on in my business career and I’ve carried it through to politics – both very much people-centred roles.
Certainly my use of social media has evolved over the last four and bit years since I entered the Guernsey government. I started off with a mixture of personal and political posts but now I have a much broader group of people following me and I am mostly focusing on matters of political interest.
There’s also been a shift in how the Guernsey government communicates – through direct communication, through media relations, use of the government website and social media. More importantly, there’s been a change in expectation from the public about the level of communication they expect. A fair number of the population expect to be told much more, to be told it more quickly and to be told it directly, not to have it filtered through any other media. That’s a challenge but there are relatively few protocols and rules .The timing, when I have something to say, is often up to me.
The other lesson I’ve learned is that if you don’t fill the void someone else will. I do turn down media opportunities to comment, but rarely. I would rather have my views expressed directly than rely on those of somebody else who may differ or be diametrically opposed to me or seek to represent what they think are my views.
I would always prefer my communication to be planned and proactive rather than reacting to others’ questions.
I have also developed a thicker carapace. If I have contact which is abusive my approach is to ignore it and press the delete button. I strive to remain professional and polite even in the face of outright rudeness.
I still dip into online blogs a few times a week to see if there’s anything vaguely relevant to me that might need a response. Four years ago I would have got very much more involved. My approach now is to have the self-confidence that what I am doing is the right thing and has the backing of the majority. That if I keep doing what I am doing and keep telling people what I am doing as I go along, they will understand and form a judgement about whether I have done the wrong thing or the right thing based on the real facts of the matter, not internet speculation. In other words, the electorate have an opportunity to cast their verdict through the ballot box but in the meantime I don’t lose sleep over it.
Gavin St Pier is president of the Policy and Resources Committee. Gavin’s chosen charity is Young People Guernsey, a charity that identifies and responds to the needs of young people in the Bailiwick, particularly those in need, and ultimately those at risk.