Interview: Yes Scotland Head of Digital Stewart Kirkpatrick

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Today, the First Minister of Scotland and UK Prime Minister met to finalise the terms of Scotland's vote for independence in 2014. It is being said that digital will have a key role to play in showing Scots the benefits of becoming an independent nation and one of the people at the forefront of that campaign will be Stewart Kirkpatrick, Head of Digital for campaign group Yes Scotland.

Stewart Kirkpatrick, Yes Scotland Head of Digital

Stewart is well-known across Scotland and the UK for his work in digital journalism. As editor of he made it one of Google's top sources for news in an era when most Scottish papers were dismissing the web as a fad and he then followed this up with the launch of the Caledonian Mercury online paper. Here, he touches upon some of the issues that will be faced the coming 100 weeks...

How important is digital appearing to be in the Yes Scotland campaign?

Digital touches everything we at Yes Scotland need to do to persuade our fellow Scots that our country is better off running its own affairs. We need to reach people with messages they find positive, interesting and persuasive. And we need to do it in a way that is personal. Digital content is perfectly suited to that task.

To be successful our digital strategy has to focus on people communicating with each other. That means generating interesting and relevant content, plugging into conversational circles online and helping our supporters coordinate their activities (especially important as we are a grassroots campaign).

While we use sophisticated technical platforms, digital is not about technology. It’s about interacting in a positive way with those who do not yet agree with us.

How much of an issue is platform - desktop, mobile, etc?

Platform is so vital that it needs to be invisible. Our audiences need to encounter relevant and interesting content almost without noticing where that happens. The challenge for us is deploying systems and content streams that enable that seamless experience.

We have to tailor our messages and content to the different uses people make of different technologies and media. Our digital campaign must be accessible to you whether you’re using broadband, a Galaxy Note or a Nokia 3210.

As Head of Digital, what're the main issues for a site that many will see as being a gatekeeper portal for all the information on the Indy Ref? has several roles to play. It has to be interesting to people who are not yet engaged with our message. At the same time it has to be the official voice for the Yes campaign. It has to persuade the unpersuaded. It has to become a trusted source of information for the unsure. And it has to motivate and coordinate our supporters.

My challenge is to make sure that the site, our social media platforms and our digital content feed into that mix in an effective way to multiple audiences with multiple interests across multiple technologies.

I've been in the business of creating and disseminating digital content to target audiences since 2000. And this is by far my greatest and most exciting challenge yet.

Craig McGill

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