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Labour must avoid sideshows and stick to their message

15 February 2017

If Labour are to have any chance at this year’s Election, they need to avoid sideshows and stick to their core message.

The party was plagued by sideshows in 2014. This not only made them look unorganised, but it also prevented them getting their message out before the Election. Although I’m still not sure what that message was.

You’ll remember some of the sideshows. They included David Cunliffe apologising for everything under the sun, complaints about Mike Hosking moderating an Election debate, and concern that John Key was getting too much media attention from a royal visit. The list went on.

We now find ourselves at the beginning of another Election year, and we’ve already had Labour’s first sideshow. If the announcement of Willie Jackson as a Labour candidate had been handled properly, it could have worked in their favour, particularly if a key point in their Election campaign will be looking after those at the bottom of the socio-economic pile.

But it wasn’t handled well, so instead the focus was on the lack of Labour Party unity. It was clear that MPs had not be told about the decision and that boiled over when Poto Williams went public with her opposition (an unbelievable thing to do).

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know the importance of having a clear and concise message, whether for a media interview, or campaign of any type and repeat it time and time again so it sinks into the minds of voters. People remember very little, so you are best to focus on a few core issues.

However, this can only work if the news media and others don’t find more newsworthy angles for their stories, or more importantly, if they aren’t handed them on a plate.  Clearly dissent in the Labour caucus is more interesting than Jackson’s fit with the Labour Party because of his background in helping people in poverty. So that’s how the story was framed.

The first thing Labour need to do is avoid more sideshows. Then they need a core message, something they either didn’t have, or didn’t communicate well at the last Election. Without both of those things, they don’t have a hope in September.

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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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