PR from the People! How Social Media is Helping to Re-brand Democracy in the land of Eyjafjallaj

IcelandSometimes brilliant PR isn’t apparent at first glance. We often think of public relations primarily as a tool used by businesses to project a user-friendly, marketable image. On the other hand, governments also rely on PR to sell legislation, win constituents and market candidates. But, what about a nation that uses the latest PR tools to establish itself as a thought leader in ethical ideology?

Iceland is doing just that as it crafts a new constitution. The remote, blustery island has long been an outpost, isolated from other cultures across the modern world. Shrouded in mystery by its seemingly indecipherable language; from the fiery summit of Eyjafjallajökull to the glistening capital city of Reykjavík, Iceland is best known to Americans as a bygone Viking stronghold and home to rock band Sigur Ros, which has attacted a cult-like following.

Now, the Icelandic Constitutional Council is helping to rebrand the remote nation – and democracy – using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to pen a governing document that is truly written by the people, for the people. Posting drafts online, the Council is taking recommendations from the public through each of these channels and making amendments as they go along.

Here’s the part where the power of social media crowdsourcing really comes through in terms of ideology. Each week, the Constitutional Council streams live meetings to its homepage and Facebook page. Meanwhile, Icelandic citizens are encouraged to interact in real-time on Twitter and create their own public forum through YouTube channels. Government doesn’t get anymore transparent or participative than that!

Of course, this is effective partly because Iceland's population comes in at fewer than 320,000. Still, this type of transparency and government accountability is unprecedented. Iceland is setting a new standard for ethical government development and using the right tools to let the world know.

To see democracy happening in front of your very eyes, take a look at the Council’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

Contributed by Andy Fosbrook. Follow him @atfosbrook.