Labour must narrow its message

8 July 2016

One of the big mistakes Labour made at the last Election was to focus on too many issues. When any campaign tries to cover more than a few core things, people remember none of them. Labour also need an over-riding theme that the key points all address.

Lately, the party seems to be improving its messaging strategy, but the focus is still too broad. Their over-riding message seems to be about ‘backing the Kiwi Dream’. That’s ok, but a bit abstract. They might be better to copy the Australian Labor Party’s, ‘We’ll put people first,’ because that basically means the same thing but it’s far more concrete and understandable.


What about the key points to address the theme?

This is where Labour need a real brainstorm. Clearly Housing is going to be one of these points. It relates perfectly with the theme and is an area where they could score some points against the Government. This is currently a major focus, and will continue to be.


What about the rest?

One area where Labour often come unstuck is around the economy. They talk about job creation and that would work well with the theme. But there is risk around this because National usually come out on top around economic issues. Labour would need to have a concrete plan around job creation, and that could be difficult if they also want to increase the minimum wage and drop the 90-day law.

They also talk about the Environment, but that’s best left to the Greens, particularly with their new arrangement. People who vote Labour will know that any Labour-led Administration is likely to include the Greens, so the environment would be covered.

Immigration is a good possibility. That’s clearly the domain of New Zealand First, but with no guarantee of a post-election deal with Winston Peters, they may see some votes in cutting immigration numbers. That also works well with the ‘Kiwi Dream’ message.

Other issues popular with Labour are Regional Development, Health and Education. These are all potential focus areas, while National Security is also becoming more important to New Zealanders.

They need to narrow their focus down to three key issues. That doesn’t mean they ignore other issues, but they need a focus. All other parties do this well, but Labour dropped the ball last time.

Time will tell whether they do this and how affective they are at sticking to their message.

If you want to be prepared for that possible scrutiny before it comes your way but don’t have time to take part in a media training workshop, check out

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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