Labour getting the message about their message?

10 June 2016

Labour’s big problem over recent years is its failure to come up with a clear and concise message to focus on consistently. National are the masters of this. 

John Key and his ministers always bring things back to the need for a strong economy, and go into Elections with their core message that their stewardship of the economy is what will maintain or grow people’s standard of living.

New Zealand First are about putting kiwi citizens ahead of foreign interests, while the Greens have two pillars; the environment and left wing economics.

But Labour have been a reactionary party, trying to score political points anywhere, without a specific focus on what they offer. This includes their conflicting views on the Flag, the TPPA, while they appear unsure about whether to move towards the left of politics, or stay in the centre and compete for votes there.

But they may have finally found an issue to hang their hat on. Instead of their ad hoc political point scoring strategy, have they now decided that housing will be their focus, or at least one of the two or three issues to concentrate on in the lead-up to next year’s Election?

The point they have missed since Helen Clark left is the need to limit their focus to a few issues. If they don’t, no-one will have any idea about what they stand for. It’s better to let people know what your most important issues are and focus on those. If you try and cover everything, you won’t get anything through. It’s like giving a presentation. If you focus on a few points in detail, people will remember them. If you cover 27 points, no-one will remember anything.

National do this well. Even in Parliamentary Question Time, they always ask their own Ministers questions about the economy. This gives those ministers the opportunity to tell good news stories about the economy and claim the credit. They do the same in media interviews.

We are now seeing Labour do more of this. They are bringing the focus back to housing and blaming the government for the exploding house prices and people sleeping in cars. I wouldn’t be surprised if they announce some major policy around this shortly.

This may help them win some votes. They will still need to convince voters, while National will argue they are already doing all they can. Labour will also have the problem of the Greens, who don’t share all of Labour’s policies in this area. The Urban limit being one.

But regardless, we may see some more interesting exchanges over the next 12 months. Maybe they'll all need a round of media training.

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Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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