Calling a snap general election ahead of Brexit negotiations caught almost everyone by surprise. With the expectation that Theresa May’s Conservative party would gain a larger majority to prevent any opposition to the Brexit deal, and the Tories being far ahead in any opinion poll, the odds were in her favour. At least they were meant to be. As the dust settles on the UK snap General Election, we can take a step back and consider the top PR takeaways from the crash and successes of the campaigns.
Avoid the U-turns
It goes without saying that May has suffered. One of the biggest PR disasters of her campaign has been the lack of and even loss of trust due to a number of U-turns she made. Here’s a look at all the back-pedalling that went down:
- Let’s begin with the idea of calling of a snap election, after categorically stating that it would not happen: “There isn’t going to be one. It isn’t going to happen. There is not going to be a general election,”.
- Then came ‘Dementia Tax’, the Conservative’s proposal for adult social care. The party first said that people with less than £100,000 in assets would have to pay for care, but four days later announced a cap on social care costs.
All this backtracking made the party appear weak and wobbly to the British public. Instead of jumping to decisions and then rescinding, much more respect is to be won by taking the time to consider the steps they were taking. Trust is one of the most important factors for your brand. As an intangible asset, it builds loyalty, meaningful relationships, and ultimately profitability. Of course, you can say your business is honest and credible, but consumers won’t buy it unless you walk the talk.
Brand personality – have one
It’s one thing to talk to 200 people, but May’s campaign visits were especially restricted, prompting many to accuse her of hiding. When you’re the face of a party, or a brand for that matter, you cannot become invisible. To relate to your target audience and really reach out to people who so desperately want to hear your voice, you must be front and center. Leaving the public to solely focus on policies and not influence or create interest is one of the biggest PR blunders you can make.
Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, engaged with his supporters through rallies, social media and Live TV debates. This gave him the opportunity to be more visual and active, but also showed that he cared — certainly when compared to an absentee leader. The difference between the two candidates can be seen in their social media followings. Statistics from We Are Social show that the Labour Party increased its following by 61% across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the six weeks after the election was called. The Conservatives’ following rose by just 6% in the same period.
No getting away from media training
We don’t know if her PR team shared questions prior to interview, but when asked about the ‘naughtiest thing’ she had ever done, May confessed to running through fields of wheat. Well, social media had a ‘field day’ and had –admittedly hilarious – fun with this interview leaving #wheatandwobbly trending on Twitter.
Media training can be highly effective in helping you develop the skills to get your message across succinctly and with impact. And when you are an effective spokesperson, the media will return to you for expert commentary. Sometimes journalists can ask questions that are difficult to answer or put you on the spot. Media training can prepare you for challenging questions and any unexpected twists or turns during the interview.
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