John Howard has been an inspirational leader for Australia for the last 13 years. As the second-longest serving Australian Prime Minister, he has helped to turn Australia’s budget deficit into a surplus that led to tax cuts and a more competitive economy.
I was privileged enough to be flying with Mr Howard on the way back from the Beijing Olympics and managed to have a quick chat with him. I would love to say we had an amazing, eye-opening and insightful conversation, but alas the man is popular and the plane was not going to wait around for us (well maybe it would have for him). We did however talk about where we live and connected on familiar issues within our respective neighbourhoods.
Online reputation and social media are having a significant impact on politicians reputation and campaign messages of late in the U.S. as Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama competed to make the presidential ballot – and now Barrack and John McCain campaign for the Presidency. Barrack Obama is making the most stir online as his supporters have on more than one occasion used the power of social media to push his messages to millions of people across the web.
Last year’s election here in Australia saw each of the parties dipping into new mediums such as YouTube to try and get their messages out to more people, and Kevin Rudd had a fairly catchy campaign and website dedicated to “Kevin 07” for which the domain now redirects to the ALP website. This also, however, opened the forum for every Joe Bloe to express their opinions through comments, discussion and parody. The power of social media is going to continue to have an increasing impact on the popularity and perception of our leaders and online reputation management will no doubt be taken very seriously by the parties, as too it should be by business owners.
Mr Howard hasn’t made too many headlines or public appearances since losing out to Rudd in the last federal election, however it is great to know he was still over in Beijing to cheer on his country with passion. It was a pleasure to meet such a strong and decisive leader and I was lucky enough to grab a quick picture with him on my mobile phone for our Flickr albums.