Hazel Blears, Twitter-holic

At 11:30 this morning, Hazel Blears burst onto the Twitter scene. Six hours later, and we’re already up to her tenth tweet on the microblogging service. I feel as if my entire afternoon has been punctuated by the latest update on what Hazel is doing. Or indeed, not doing.
I’m all for departments experimenting with Twitter… especially the department whose specific remit includes ‘communities’. But there are a few fundamental problems with their assault on Twitter, which we need to rectify sharp-ish.
For starters, who ‘is’ CommunitiesUK? It reads like it’s Blears’s PA: all ‘Hazel is this’, ‘Hazel is that’. First person stuff, all personal and a bit touchy-feely, but written in the third person. As others have also noted, it feels really weird. And it doesn’t sit too well with the account’s ‘Bio’: ‘The official 7 day empowerment twitter channel for Communities and Local Government.’ Does the capitalisation imply that it’s the Department’s channel? (What exactly is ‘7-day empowerment’ anyway?)
And frankly, there’s just too much of it. Ten tweets in an afternoon, all one-way, even on a big day for the Department, is a lot. I don’t need a before, during and after tweet about every public engagement. I don’t want to know if ‘Hazel is excited about writing her first blog post‘. Just tell me when she’s published it.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not against experimental use of new channels like this. I’m just keen to see it get off on the right footing.
I get the feeling they’re consciously following the example of @DowningStreet. But their third-person approach – ‘The PM is…’ – works because 10 Downing Street is the Prime Minister. The relationship between DCLG (with its 5000+ staff) and Hazel Blears is completely different. This has to be either Hazel’s personal channel; or the department’s corporate channel. Unlike @DowningStreet, it can’t be both.
PS: In case you missed it… some very positive words from the Washington Post this week about No10’s G8 efforts. ‘Gordon Brown is stealing the G-8 show online,’ they wrote. ‘[@Downingstreet] has more than 3,000 followers, and is part of the prime minister’s ongoing Web-savvy operation.’ 🙂

8 thoughts on “Hazel Blears, Twitter-holic”

  1. The 7 day reference is I think to the blog, which will only run for a week. I assume the same will be true of the twitter feed!

  2. Perhaps it is Hazel Blears writing, but referring to herself in the third person. You know, like the way OJ Simpson would never say ‘I’ but call himself ‘The Juice’.

  3. Looks like she’s now admitting its sometimes her, sometimes her office!
    I wonder if she has Twhirl installed to keep up with her friends feeds…

  4. I think I can see what’s going on here. She’s demob happy. Knowing that the opinion pollsters won’t be able to detect any support for Labour at all as a result of today’s car tax headlines, the cabinet are now setting themselves up for their future careers.
    I think Haz sees herself as a presenter on a TV shopping channel and is simply doing a ‘look at me’ to maximise her chances. Bless.

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