A Talk with Google's Communications Director

Dr O’Hear: On Tuesday June 24th, Tom Price, Director of Communications at Google and former advisor to Gordon Brown, came to address the Oxbridge Project.

In what turned into a mammoth session, Mr Price delivered a fascinating and wide-ranging talk on both his time in Politics and his role at Google. In an exercise in humility, Mr Price singled out not the highlights of his extremely illustrious career (Price is still only 33 years old) but the times when things had gone wrong and he had learnt difficult but important lessons.

So we learnt about the time when he accidentally revealed a spat between Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson in 2010 which went on to make front page headlines and also about the time when he (completely accidentally) put out some inaccurate figures on behalf of Google, which again made headlines. Price argued that these mistakes taught him the importance of always checking your words and figures really carefully and of making sure that the person you are speaking to is taking away the message that you want them to take away.

While the older members of the audience (i.e. me!) could have listened to anecdotes about the internal politics of New Labour for hours, the younger members were keen to get Mr Price onto questions to do with Web 2.0. We had some fantastic questions on Net Neutrality (Reece Healy-Elliman), the policing of Youtube, particularly with regard to the recent Isis video that was posted there, the relationship between Google and Youtube and the music industry, and the impact of Bing. Sadek Al-Sabaari, Felix Butcher, Hajar Benmehdia, Aishni Mittra, Omar Iqbal, Kareem Keane-Imlahi and of course, Reece, and many others really impressed Mr Price with their in-depth knowledge of these issues.

Mr Price provided quite an encore by giving the students a sneak preview of the new Google Glass prototype and everyone went home buzzing with excitement.