The new Liberal Government’s recent cabinet shuffle is an excellent example of the opportunity social media offers political parties to bypass traditional media and convey information directly to Canadians. The naming of a Cabinet is one of the most speculated decisions by a Prime Minister. The Parliamentary Press Gallery loves to float their theories, every member of the governing party has their own views on who would make the best ministers and what portfolio they should have. Cabinet shuffles are also very secretive with only a small number of people knowing who will be in cabinet and those named are sworn to secrecy before they are officially announced. Usually this announcement comes through a news release from the Prime Minister’s office as the cabinet is sworn in at Rideau Hall.
But with his July 15th 2013 shuffle, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper put a new spin on the traditional news release by announcing his new cabinet by Twitter. https://blog.twitter.com/2013/when-a-prime-minister-live-tweets-a-cabinet-reshuffle As Bridget Coyne mentions in her blog, the Harper PMO’s decision to embrace social media in this way created opportunities for Ministers to engage with their followers, thank the PM and gain exposure by providing media with their twitter handles. Over the course of the day, the PM’s office used their twitter account to share short videos of Minister’s responding to their new roles and tweet facts on the cabinet such as the number of women named.
Harper was not the first world leader to live tweet an event but he was one of the first to tweet a cabinet shuffle. David Cameron and other world leaders have since used similar strategies. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/10967655/Cabinet-reshuffle-after-the-sackings-the-ministerial-promotions.html By releasing the news themselves, the Prime Minister’s office had the opportunity to control the timing of the news being shared as well as create media interest in this new approach. Using Twitter also meant that all those interested received the information at the same time without media commentary.
The Trudeau Government’s November 4th shuffle built upon the Harper Government’s announcements by Twitter. In addition to announcing which individuals had been named to which roles, the Liberal Government tweeted a photo and interesting facts about each Minister. https://twitter.com/liberal_party/status/661952752784973824 These tweets intended to look like trading cards not only introduced the new Ministers to Canadians but also gave media interesting facts about the new Minister’s backgrounds to shape their commentary on the shuffle. These tweets were eye catching and easy to share across a variety of social media platforms.