Nearly every Lib Dem digital channel is run independently of HQ – and that should determine HQ’s own approach

The exact wording of a job description is one of those slabs of text which often get hugely over-edited and over-analysed in advance and then rapidly become mostly irrelevant. For all the well-intentioned effort that goes into the wording, once someone starts in a job that wording almost always becomes, at most, a fairly small part of what happens and why.

How well the new person gets on with a colleague three desks across matters far more than the wording in the ninth paragraph about which way round the dotted reporting lines go between them.

So the job description for the current vacancy at Lib Dem HQ for Head of Digital Content is best read not as a detailed prescription for exactly what will happen in the future but rather as a summary of how those in charge currently view matters.

There is much good to see in here, but it is notable how focused it is on treating digital content as if the party’s only content channels are those run out of national HQ. In fact, only a tiny proportion of them are.

For each one channel run from HQ you can easily find literally hundreds of other such channels run around the party. Many of those do of course have tiny audiences, but there are also so many of them that any considered approach to how to get digital content out effectively to the right audiences needs to start with an understanding of just how many channels there are which are one step (or move) removed from central HQ. Nor are all of the other digital channels small either. By my own calculations, for example, more members read my online coverage of the 2015 Lib Dem leadership contest, for example, then attended the hustings.

That reality of HQ directly running only such a small part of the overall picture in turn requires understanding that wider network of people in the party who run all those other channels, being able to work together collaboratively in a way that lets different parts of the party plan ahead cooperatively, creating content that is suitable for reuse across such channels and so on.

All fairly obvious things you might think, but also all things mostly missing from the job description. The good news, of course, is back where I started this post. The omissions won’t stop a good person in the job from doing the right things.

But what it does show is just how much of a culture change there is still needed to transform the┬ádominance in recent years of ‘HQ says do this, now follow our orders’ into one where HQ’s role is much more about supporting and creating a strong, diversified grassroots structure in the way I set out in Targeting Plus.

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