Edmund King, president of the AA, today fronted a seminar at Newcastle University. It was his inaugural lecture as Visiting Professor working with the Transport Operations Research Group.
He talked about the power of the media in influencing transport decision-making and policy.
On the power of traditional media he said “three minutes on Radio 4’s Today programme” was invaluable for setting the day’s news agenda. He gave background information on the recent AA campaign on inadequate gritting of the roads, which received acres of newsprint and plenty of airtime.
On the power of social media he praised Twitter.com as a new means of reaching key influencers. “Some very influential people follow me on Twitter,” said Professor King.
Turning to the blogosphere, Professor King said the iPayRoadTax campaign was a shining example of online campaigning.
King might be the most prominent spokesman for motoring interests in the British media, but he’s also a cyclist, owning a top-end Whyte MTB and a Brompton.
On his Twitter account he often talks about his weekend warrior bike rides on his Whyte, and yesterday mentioned he had worn the iPayRoadTax cycle jersey, made by Foska.com. He called the jersey “ironic, iconic and probably iconoclastic.”
The jerseys are sold on iPayRoadTax.com and Foska.com. Certain sizes have already sold out. A second, larger order has now been placed enabling availability through selected bike shops.
iPayRoadTax.com is run by Carlton Reid, executive editor of BikeBiz.com, and is a campaign to set the record straight on ‘road tax’ (which was abolished in 1937, a process started in 1926 by Winston Churchill).
The iPayRoadTax campaign uses social media and YouTube to spread its message. A recent video showed a Manchester couple abusing a cyclist, claiming he had no right to tell them to slow down in their car because, as cyclists "don’t pay road tax", they had no right to be on the road. "No pay, no say," said the passenger, wagging her finger.
King studied Politics at Newcastle University, graduating in 1981. He was appointed president of the AA in December 2007, and is responsible for public policy, communications, research and campaigning on behalf of motorists. He is a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology Transport Sector panel, the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association committee, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and former winner of PRWeek’s PR Professional of the Year.