It’s being reported today that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has reached a deal with Uber and will abandon attempts to cap its growth in the world’s top ride-sharing market. It’s a big win for Uber, and one that trumpets the power of communications supported advocacy in an era of increased democratization.
As New York City cab drivers are learning the hard way, it’s no longer enough to simply be connected to people in high places. Technology is producing a democratization of lobbying power, and it is now the constituents that have the influence. As such, traditional government affairs must embrace communications strategies that demonstrate tangible levels of grassroots support.
To secure that support, Uber leveraged every tactic in the communications toolbox. It ran TV and radio ads decrying a policy decision that would cost the city jobs. It created a “De-Blasio’s Uber” app that mirrored the real thing, except for the 25 minute wait times. It incited a social media stir with a single Facebook post from Ashton Kutcher that blasted Mayor de Blasio’s proposals and went viral among his many friends. Most important, Uber made deft use of its 2 million New Yorker subscriber list and some 18,000 drivers that took to their own social media accounts to act as force multipliers for Uber’s cause.
By playing the new game that covers every front on today’s public affairs landscape, Uber has provided a template by which other disruptive technologies can clear the regulatory and legislative hurdles placed before them. Indeed, the company has set an example that all companies can follow when seeking to affect changes in public policy.
Increasingly as we become more hyper-wired it will be the people with the power. Engage them, and even the most demonstrative policy makers will listen have to listen.