Monday, 28 March 2011

How can the Health Secretary deal with the Andrew Lansley Rap?

It's not often that viral videos and the words 'internet sensation' are applicable to government policy. It's perhaps seen as too boring for the necessary youth interest, which is usually needed to take online content from a few views to the holy grail of e-marketing that is viral, where friends pass it to friends and tens of thousands of views soon rack up.

But, as shown by recent Student demonstrations and the massive turn out of at the anti-cuts rally in London last week, difficult times do tend to raise political awareness throughout the population, even in the younger elements of society.

Now, a video on Youtube concerning the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, NHS reforms and especially referencing last year's White Paper, Equality and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, has indeed gone viral. "The Andrew Lansley Rap", written and recorded by 22 year old binman Sean Donnelly (aka MC NxtGen) has already clocked up over 170,000 views since it was published on Youtube just under a week ago.

Though the song does contain some offensive, personal comments directed at Lansley, it's a remarkably detailed and comprehensive critique of the proposed reforms. Donnelly has certainly done his research and stated that he was moved to write the rap by his girlfriend and friends who hoped for careers in the NHS, but were concerned about it's future.

View the video below, but be warned that it does contain strong language.

Interest in the video has been so high that it's gained the attention of not only the Twitter and Facebook communities, but also the national press. Andrew Lansley himself has even responded (though unfortunately not in kind, with his own rap song) stating that he was impressed with the rapper managing to include lyrics on GP Commissioning in a song.

A fairly magnanimous response, but unlikely to have any affect on the spread of the video or the opinions of those who view it. Is there actually anything that could be done to combat such a situation?

It's a worry for any organisation, whether Public or Private, when the internet allows a single voice to be heard by thousands, if not millions of people. It's a lesson United Airlines learned back in 2009, when a disgruntled customer posted a video criticising the company, which became a phenomenon. We've mentioned this before and although United eventually offered recompense, the video is still online and at the time of writing has had over 10 million views.

Being seen to offer compensation, as well as addressing grievances and examining practices to ensure the same doesn't happen again, are certainly avenues that we would recommend in dealing with such matters. The 'head in the sand' approach is a recipe for disaster, as the reach of the negative message will likely just grow and grow without answer.

This can help ease the damage and to a certain extent turn the situation around into a positive, as it show's that an organisation listens to and takes action as a result of feedback. The organisation is responsive and not afraid to admit when it gets things wrong.

But in this case, the rap joins the many voices that are already raising concerns, which Lansley and David Cameron have, somewhat in vain, tried to answer. Answer, but not address by changing policy.

The difference with the new video is that it threatens to take the debate to a wider audience and to be honest, there's little that can be done about it. If making changes in response to criticism is out of the question, then Lansley and the Government will just have to grin and bear it, no matter how many views it gets.

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