Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been reaching out to the world recently with a personal position statement on misogyny getting global attention, and a new position paper on Asia also rating well on mentions. How did they perform and what were the differences? 

The winner in terms of peak total mentions turns out to be the Asian Century White Paper, that’s impact. However Misogyny had two peaks, and those combined exceeded the total mentions for Asian Century.

Asian Century Misogony All Sources All Countries

If we just take online News globally we see the same picture, with more subtle variations in that while Misogyny was dying, in fits and starts, the Asian Century story was being kicked off, obviously through selective leaks and “inside stories”- the political PR machine in action. Both graphs show that the total activity around Misogyny was greater than Asian Century.

Asian Century Misogyny Not Twitter All Countries

Appears Misogyny more often discussed in Forums and Blogs

Comparing the Share of Voice in different media shows some interesting differences. For example in Blogs Misogyny captured a 65% share of mentions. Whereas in Twitter Asian Century captured 56% of the mentions. 

Asian Century Misogyny SOV Blogs Global

Asian Century Misogyny SOV Twitter Global

In Forums the ratio more resembled Blogs than Twitter. And in online News it was essentially evenly divided.

Asian Century Misogyny SOV Forums Global

Asian Century Misogyny SOV News Global

What conclusion might be drawn from those differences? Perhaps that Misogyny was a personal speech by Prime Minister Gillard which carried strong personal commitment about a topic on which people have active views – and these play out in real discussions and participation in online forums and blogs. The emotional side of this can be seen in the Sentiment Analysis below. On the other hand Asian Century is a “wheels of government” artifact, the topic of which most people don’t identify personally, and it suits quick grabs especially in Twitter and to some extent News.

Geographic comparison Misogyny more widely discussed especially UK and USA

Asian Century Misogyny Geographic Analysis

The chart above shows that Misogyny achieved a significant number of mentions in the UK and USA – 13% and 12% respectively. On the other hand Asian Century rated the same mentions in Indonesia as the UK with more interest in the USA but that only a fraction of Misogyny. To me there are three surprises from Asian Century: firstly that Canada rates so low, secondly that it rated 4% in the USA given that the Presidential election was in its 2nd last week, and thirdly that of all the Asian nations only Indonesia showed a blip in mentions.

Misogyny rules mixed Sentiment

Asian Century Misogyny Sentiment Analysis

As you would expect there was more emotion and mixed sentiment around Misogyny than Asian Century. The actual neutral sentiment was the same (taken on face value since sentiment analysis not particularly reliable with current tools). There was a lot more discussion coded as negative in Misogyny, and nearly 50% of mentions of Asian Century were coded as positive which is probably a good result. The two topics are hard to compare because Misogyny was quite detailed and specific, while Asian Century was broad and had few details which perhaps offers little to be negative about except that fact itself.

In another post we analysed the spread of the Misogyny debate in detail. We’ve also analysed the Asian Century impact in online media in more detail, below.


Asian Century media analysis shows Twitter & News carried the story

Asian Century Media Analysis Actviity Overall 

We can see in the table above that there were few mentions of Asian Century outside News and Twitter (period 22nd October to 1 November). Overall positive sentiment outweighed negative sentiment 5 to 1. You can see the typical pattern of a huge acceleration in tweets, ahead on traditional news, and then a more rapid deceleration with no new news to carry the story forward.

Asian Century Media Analysis Share of MentionsWhen we explore topics we see that within the discussion of Asian Century we see that mentions of the Prime Minister top the list. Following that are “countries” where we searched for the countries named in the report, “education” and related keywords, and you can see “industry” last on the list being mentioned about 1000 times in the same context as Asian Century.

As you can see we also searched for Maxine McKew  who launched her “tell all” book at the same time, and Tony Abbott the Leader of the Opposition. The context of these two searches differ from each other – we searched for Tony Abbott in the context of Asian Century, and for Maxine McKew we searched broadly for her and references to her book.

There was plenty of speculation about the timing of the Asian Century launch being aimed at diverting attention away from Maxine McKew’s book which cast unfavourable light on the Prime Minister’s role in the political assassination of her predecessor and threatened to open up festering wounds. Indeed, it would be naive to think this wasn’t carefully taken into consideration.

Were they being overly cautious or not?

Well the numbers show that the PMs advisors needed to be acutely aware of the media impact which Maxine McKew was having.

 Asian Century Media Analysis Activity McKew

We can see the momentum Maxine McKew was building up just prior to the Asian Century release. A newsworthy event was needed to get Maxine off the front pages. Asian Century did succeed in doing this, but even so Maxine gained a significant share of attention during the whole period.

Asian Century Media Analysis Activity McKew GeographyOne big difference was that mentions of Maxine were essentially domestic, whereas Asian Century had a wider geographic audience. Oddly Bahrain has a high rate of mentions of the Prime Minster in the context of Asian Century far exceeding those of the UK and India. The latter is especially surprising as she had just concluded a very high profile and “successful” visit to India.

Asian Century Media Analysis Activity Geography

Coming back to the big picture of Asian Century, what did the media make of it? The wordcloud below shows the most frequent words used in the 15000 mentions (edited to remove zero-value words such as “Canberra”). 

Asian Century Media Analysis Activity Wordcloud

It’s fair to say that the main themes of Asian Century made it into the discussions, for example economic opportunities, growth, business, education, languages and China. We also included mentions of Maxine McKew in this data set and you can see that she rated as prominently as China for instance.

Below we have the Buzzgraph (with placeholder words removed) and this shows not the frequency of individual words but the frequency with which various word pairs were used. So it shows more the connections in people’s thoughts between words and issues. The key themes apparent here from the Asian Century are quite different to the wordcloud above. 

Asian Century Media Analysis Activity BuzzGraph

The buzzgraph shows that conversations put the Prime Minister at the centre of the mentions of Asian Century, and closely linked her and Asia, and also with being ambitious, and the need to engage with the economies, and then surprisingly the languages of Hindi, and Mandarin were linked with her, and also China, Gonski (the Education paper) and Tony Abbott. This shows that of all the coverage of Asian Century these were the word pairs most commonly linked.

Thankfully for the Prime Minister the name Maxine McKew was missing, and that was clearly part of Julie Gillard’s  deliberate strategy to ignore her. It worked. 

If we check word pairs within themes of the Asian Strategy we see some interesting connections which rose to the top.

Asian Century Buzzgraph Education


Asian Century Buzzgraph Countries


We see that within the mentions of Education and Asian Century that Japanese pops up, but Japan does not come up in any other analysis. Obviously the Gonski education reforms are there and strongly linked to “Gillard”. Mr Abbott also rares his head in Education but not in the overall analysis nor “Countries”. In Countries Korea appears and a strong link between “Gillard” and China, but not so strong to India. Indonesia and Indonesian shows up quite widely in these and other reports.

Finally, what coverage did the Leader of the Opposition manage to conjure out of the Asian Century?

Tony Abbott relies on traditional media

What we can see is that Tony Abbott has his existing traditional channels well oiled, but not so social media. Seventy six-percent of mentions of Abbott within Asian Century came from the traditional press – the “non-social” media, while only 16% from Twitter and little elsewhere. The other odd pattern is that the traditional News leapt first and then accelerated faster than Twitter for the Leader of the Opposition. That means that the well-oiled PR machine of personal connections and late-night dinners and “private briefings” is working well for him, whereas he’s out of tune with social.

Asian Century Media Analysis Actviity Abbott

We can see in the chart above that Mr Abbott had  12% of mentions where he appeared with Asian Century classified as negative – 4 times the average across Asian Century as a whole. Was that because of people criticizing him, him criticizing the Government, or him drawing upon negative connections. We can’t be certain without more extensive analysis but we do see some clues below.

What tactics did Tony Abbot follow to try to divert attention from Asian Century?

Below you can see that he clearly tried to revive and continue the link between Maxine McKew’s book and claims that the Prime Minister was disloyal. The strong linkage (the heaviest line) is between the appearance of Abbott and Julia Gillard’s role in the coup against the former Prime Minster Kevin Rudd. He also mentions Gonski and school reform in linkages.

Asian Century Buzzgraph Tony Abbott

And Tony Abbott’s efforts did not go unrewarded as we can see from the top Negative mentions in the press, the traditional news, which is where his advisers and connections are most comfortable. There were 193 negative mentions in News associating to Asian Century and Tony Abbott. Of course these may have been negative about Abbott himself, but as we can see from the extracted snippet below more likely to be trying to bring the Prime Minister into the debate about the claims of Maxine McKew (within the topic of discussion about Asian Century).

Asian Century Abbott Negative News


Asian Century had a bigger spike than Misogyny but overall about the same reach, except that Misogyny had a wider global audience. The key themes got through, and it managed to dampen the impact of Maxine McKew’s book. While the Leader of the Opposition managed some traditional coverage attempting to link McKew and the Prime Minister and divert attention from Asian Century that largely failed and totally failed in social media.

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