Dutch MPs use search engines on a daily basis and trust online information sources
Online information sources are an ever-more decisive factor in determining a member of parliament’s point of view, according to research by communications consultancy Fleishman-Hillard. The main conclusion: Nine out of ten Dutch members of parliament say they make daily use of search engines such as Google for gathering information. MPs also trust online information sources. Fleishman-Hillard conducted the survey amongst 31 current members of the Dutch lower house, whereby all parties were represented.
Participation in online debate important in public affairs
“In European politics – and in Dutch politics in particular – the online world is increasingly the place to be when it comes to participating in social debate,” says Jacques Bettelheim, Director of Public Affairs at Fleishman-Hillard. “It’s therefore important to be properly represented on the Internet and take part in online debate. While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) used to be primarily market driven, we are now increasingly deploying the technique for public affairs purposes.”
Integration of PR, public affairs and digital tactics
According to Bettelheim, the survey shows that online communication is playing an ever-greater role in politicians’ opinion-forming. “It is remarkable how trusting MPs are of online sources. Twitter, in particular, is seen as a reliable source of information.” These developments are influencing public affairs. “The discipline has become more dynamic; a public affairs professional now has to play several fields at once and integrate PR, digital and public affairs tactics,” says Bettelheim.
Increased influencing through online information
As a fervent social media user, Dutch Socialist Party MP Harry van Bommel has not failed to notice that his work is more open to influence due to online information gathering and conducting politics online. “It is an entirely logical development. Local news from abroad that you would otherwise be far less likely to see you can now quickly catch up with on Twitter or Facebook. As a politician, the Internet also enables you to reach a lot of people, and they can reach you.” An additional advantage is the opportunity to check up on colleagues, according to the prominent Socialist MP. “When MPs make statements on Twitter that don’t correspond with the standpoints they have adopted in parliament you can immediately point that out to them.” Van Bommel also makes plentiful use of his own blog. “I publish everything on it. I can also post appeals and conduct discussions on the blog. It’s really handy.”
- Twice as many Dutch MPs Twitter as Euro MPs, expressed as a percentage: 79% vs. 39%
- 9 out of 10 Dutch MPs use Google on a daily basis
- 87.1% of Dutch MPs attach importance to a simple presentation of information (a summary of standpoints, for example) in forming opinions
- 93.6% of MPs say they consider personal contact with the interested parties important in opinion-forming
- 87.1% consider scientific research the most reliable source of information