It was promoted as a live Q&A on Facebook with RotaryGBI President Eve Conway but turned out to be a half hour of Rotary Presidential promotion followed by more of a situation where the President ‘Avoided the Question and answer what she liked’.
The Facebook Live session this evening was hosted by Rotarian Kaz Aston, a Rotarian and member of the RotaryGBI Marketing and Public Relations Committee who it would appear was clearly well-rehearsed and primed to offer the national President every opportunity to talk about all the things that she wanted to.
The session (from a room that looked like and had the acoustics of a small yellow broom cupboard) experienced a few technical issues in terms of sound. With one participant claiming that his sound dropped every time the interviewer moved her arms – so he must have missed most of the broadcast – as she did a lot of moving her arms all the way through the Live session. [To be fair the tech guys sorted the sound out after about 15 minutes.]
When the sound was working, the first half hour of the Facebook Live session witnessed the audience receiving a lot about polio; about the President’s visit to India; about national immunisation days; about National Women’s Day; about Youth competitions; about Young Citizens Awards (created by the President herself); about Rotary Foundation and about Conference (have to say Eve’s way of spinning this year’s Conference was excellent – with not even a single mention or question about a certain Welsh female singer star).
So almost 30 minutes into the Question and Answer session Kaz Aston presented the first question of the evening from a participant which focussed around the use of Facebook across RotaryGBI and Rotary International. This prompted a response from the President which basically talked around the importance of using social media in Rotary and receiving full affirmation and endorsement of the interviewer – but yet still not really answering the question.
The second questioner asked the President what single major thing she would change in Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland?
The President said that change was important and then quoted Paul Harris the founder of Rotary. However, she answered that she felt Rotary needed more women and more diversity in the organisation – to a whoop, a cheer and a one-woman mexican-wave from Kaz Aston as she threw her hands in the air to celebrate the President’s response – sadly for one participant probably cutting of the signal again…
The next question was a follow-up by the same person and asked about the legacy Rotary will hand over to the next generation?
To be honest, I’m not sure the question was actually answered directly. The President did talk a lot about the new way to do Rotary, citing some new Clubs that seem to be doing things well and attracting members. But the interviewer then took the conversation away from the question and prompted the President to start answering questions about general Rotary clubs. And although not answering the question asked, Eve Conway did sum up as if she had by saying about Rotary in these islands,
We’re adjusting to the way that people live today and giving them options.”
A further question came from a participant who was watching the Live Cast asking why the dedicated President’s Facebook page is no longer being used. To which the incumbent effectively said, it was nothing to do with her – but a decision taken by the RotaryGBI Marketing and Publicity Committee. Outlining that the RotaryGBI online strategy is for all communications to go through the main Facebook page.
The President was then asked what should change about the Presidency? To which she responded that it should be outward facing – and then went on to outline a list of her achievements – and most definitely not answering the question at all. Probably the most body-swerved question of the night – with an occasional nod back to the question and reiterating her position that the President should be outward facing.
The final question came from another online participant asking for a definitive answer as to the definition of a satellite Club?
Kaz Aston again got quite excited about the fact her Club had a satellite Club but was then put firmly in her place by the President who told her that in fact what she thought was a Club was in fact a satellite group. However, the interviewer got her own back by firmly (albeit slightly excitedly) speaking over the President and demanding that she therefore explain the difference between the two.
I have to say that by this point in the question I had lost the will to live as the answer was once again in true-politician style the response that Eve Conway wanted to give and not really an answer to the question that was asked.
In amongst all the comments made throughout the hour-long session there was no real references to:
- Membership initiatives;
- The structure of RotaryGBI;
- How the organisation may look in the future;
- Involving Rotaract in the future of Rotary;
- The finances of RotaryGB
- And there was certainly no mention of ‘The Ten’ meeting in Alcester about the future of Rotary…?!?
The President was asked to finish (well kind of) the session by summing up Rotary using only one word which she described as ‘inspirational’. Which was kind of ironic in terms of the Live Cast.
…and that ladies and gentlemen was effectively it.
This was a great experiment – and there was a lot of information about Rotary given over in an hour. I’m not sure as a BBC Journalist Eve will be overly happy with the way in which the final interview will look when she plays it back. Yes, she got all her points across and answered the questions in the way she wanted – but it all got a bit messy at stages with the interviewer talking over the President throughout and not enough time allocated to ‘questions from the floor’.
Perhaps that was why there was a little bit of confusion as to who was going to take control at the end to wrap the interview up – who knows? But ultimately President Eve got the last word…
So in my humble opinion, or as the social media chaps say, IMHO this was not really a proper Q&A session. Far too much of it was about Rotary in general; the President; about her year in office; about her key topics and interests (such as polio) ergo insufficient time was given to the actual Question and Answer session.
You can watch and judge for yourself by watching the Live Cast here. Just a word of warning; try to ignore the interruptions, the increasingly annoying affirmation sounds and the signal-cutting hand-waving and fidgeting then you may enjoy it. However, I’m not sure you’ll learn anything or hear anything new.
Well done to those who organised this Facebook Live session. Great to see the technology being used in this way lets hope it’s not the last one we will see.
Information about Rotary in General = 8/10
Information about President Eve Conway = 9/10
Response to questions = 2/10
Enthusiasm of presenter = 10/10
Expectations met = 3/10
Use of social media/technology = 8/10
OVERALL EXPERIENCE = 4/10
Despite this, if the session was to be run again, I’d definitely tune in – it was a great starting point with improvements to be made and lessons to be learned.