SEATTLE — The YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish (YWCA) and their advocacy network, Firesteel, are hosting two round table discussions with the 2012 candidates for Washington state governor, Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna. Each one will answer questions about women’s socio-economic issues, domestic violence, and homelessness.
A roundtable with gubernatorial candidates is not a new thing, but this roundtable will be unique because of where it will take place: over Google+ Hangout.
So what makes this Google+ Hangout so exciting? Over the past four years, social media have been hyped for their ability to allow presidential campaigns to reach out and have two-way conversations with citizens. The reality is, with a constituency as large as the United States, it’s challenging to have legitimate conversations with potential voters. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research study, the current presidential campaigns rarely interact on Twitter. President Obama’s campaign retweets about 16% of the time, while Romney’s campaign only retweeted once in a two week span.
While the social nature of social media isn’t being fully utilized by large campaigns, I believe smaller campaigns have an even bigger unrealized opportunity. Because of smaller constituencies and issues that more directly affect voters, regional candidates can more effectively have two-way conversations with voters and talk about issues that resonate differently than national campaign issues.
This is why this Google + Hangout is a valuable step. It’s the first Hangout that these gubernatorial candidates have participated in, and the topic is highly relevant for residents of Washington State. Voters will have the opportunity to interact with the gubernatorial candidates in ways that previously weren’t possible.
Firesteel is a new advocacy network leveraging social media to help end family homelessness in Washington State. According to Erin Murphy, the director of Firesteel, the organization decided to hold the roundtable as a Google+ Hangout to increase accessibility for Washington citizens.
“Google + Hangout on Air is free and easily available to anyone with internet access in a more personable and inclusive way than most video conferencing options,” Erin explained. “Firesteel is a partnership of eight YWCAs across Washington State, and we already use Google + Hangout for our regular partner meetings as it fosters social media participation. We hope to reach a broader audience, especially with the round tables automatically available on YouTube for viewing convenience post-Hangout.”
To encourage participation from citizens, YWCA and Firesteel are allowing viewers to register before the event to submit questions and receive a reminder email. Registration is available on the YWCA website as well as Facebook. To submit questions over Twitter, tweet @FiresteelWA and use the hashtag #YWHangout.
Jay Inslee’s roundtable will take place Wednesday, October 3, from 12 to 1 p.m., and Rob McKenna’s roundtable will be hosted Friday, October 5, from 5 to 5:45 p.m.