Twitter: making political soundbites go viral

Politicians using Twitter to talk, debate and sometimes argue with the public may seem normal now, but this type of interaction is something which would have been hard to imagine fifteen years ago. Twitter is helping to shape a new type of politics where, theoretically, politicians can be held to account by the people who elected them. As well as this, it’s a whole new platform for gaining votes, the perfect way to push easily digestible soundbites to a public that doesn’t have time for large swathes of information.

It’s also increasingly likely that the next day’s news will come from Twitter, with politicians’ tweets often filling more column inches than politics itself. Trump is the poster boy for this, and having mastered the art of using the platform to provoke, has dominated the presidential election with an antagonistic style that journalists find hard to resist. This is a smart move from someone without the financial backing that US presidential hopefuls generally need: what he lacks in funds for advertising, he makes up for in the publicity he generates through his posts.

 

 

Taha Yasseri, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, highlights the importance of Twitter for Trump’s style of politics. He told the Guardian that evidence shows that tweets which use “very extreme words either positively or negatively’’ will be most shared and liked. ‘’A lot of people don’t have much chance to get into the details, and the fact that they hear a name a lot can be enough to persuade them to vote for that person.”

Twitter has also become a mouthpiece for politicians other than Trump, offering an insight into their world which previously only journalists had access to. The Labour party has become particularly vocal in this sense: Owen Smith not only set out his leadership agenda through a series of tweets, but also directly tweeted Jeremy Corbyn to accuse him of inaction over a potential party split.

 

Such confrontation suggests a change in the way that MPs engage both with each other and the public: this type of disagreement would previously been leaked to the press, rather than made public on social media. If politics is becoming a more transparent space, then Twitter is playing a key role in shaping the new style that’s emerging.

Conservative Conference 2016: The party with real momentum?

In his second guest post for Vuelio, Stuart Thomson rounds up the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

The differences between the two party conferences, Labour and Conservatives, could not have been more stark.  The Conservative conference differed in a number of significant ways, not least in the party’s ability to demonstrate unity.

From the atmosphere to the number of attendees, the number of fringe meetings to the queues at the conference bars, the Conservative Party conference was how a conference should run.  Despite attempts to gain some space for Labour by the #JC4PM campaign, this week was all about showing how different the Conservatives were and could be from Labour.  Even holding an event such as that broke the generally accepted unwritten convention that the parties keep away from each other’s conferences.

The Conservative Party followed some basic rules with their conference:

  • Boils lanced – by getting Brexit out of the way on the first day of conference, Theresa May was able to move on. Things may not be that easy again as the negotiations progress but by talking about Article 50 being triggered before the end of March 2017, she got proceedings off to a bang and kept potential opponents quiet.
  • Unity – differences of opinion were expressed around the fringe meetings but nothing approached a challenge to Mrs May. Proceedings were all about discussion and policy development, not dissent.  It would be easy to forget that she wasn’t elected by her party’s membership but Jeremy Corbyn was, and only the day before Labour’s conference started.
  • Presentation, presentation, presentation – there was no altering of speeches at the last minute, this was a conference which was planned and then delivered to that plan. People clapped at the right time and gave very little away with their body language.
  • Mrs May looked like she wanted to be there – unlike Jeremy Corbyn’s general demeanour especially when arriving very late for business events, Mrs May gave the impression of wanting to attend.
  • Playing the media game – it is a deliberate strategy of Corbyn’s Labour Party not to play the media game. Whilst Mrs May is already setting some clear ground rules about her media engagement, or even lack of it over the summer, she did the right thing at conference with interviews, a few gentle personal revelations and an obvious grid for announcements.

In her end of conference speech, Mrs May tried the same trick that Tony Blair did for Labour in the run-up to 1997, stealing the political clothes of the other party.  Labour won in 1997 at least in part because of Blair’s ability to talk meaningfully about the party’s core issues of health and education whilst stealing the Conservatives’ traditional strengths on the economy.  This was in part down to the Conservatives vacating the economic competence space because of Black Wednesday.  This week May took on Labour by talking about workers’ rights, an industrial strategy and building houses (amongst others).  She is obviously assuming that Labour has vacated those spaces in the eyes of many voters.  If successful, it would be one of the most successful political land grabs of all time.

At the end of the two conferences it is clear that the Conservatives have a unity of purpose that is lacking across Labour.  The Conservatives are the ones with all the momentum.

Lobbying post-Brexit: time for a shake-up?

The lobbying industry is going through some changes at the moment. The referendum result created a level of uncertainty which initially left lobbyists anxious, and firms are having to quickly come to terms with not only Brexit negotiations, but also a new Cabinet and potentially a new leader of the Opposition. Alongside this, a bill going through the House of Lords is calling for greater transparency in the industry: given the level of change already underway, could this be the ideal time for the industry to open up?  

There have long been calls for a register that requires all lobbyists to reveal who’s being lobbied and on what issues. The current register, introduced during the coalition government, was designed to allay fears that there’s an ‘exchange of favours’ which takes place during the process. However, because this register excludes lobbyists working ‘in house’ for companies, many think the impact on transparency doesn’t go far enough: as things stand, if an energy firm employs its own lobbyists, they don’t need to declare their actions.

Lord Brooke’s Bill is designed to change this. It seeks to establish a comprehensive register of lobbyists that has to be signed regardless of employer, effectively opening it up to public scrutiny in a way which is currently only done voluntarily. As a Private Member’s Bill, it’s unlikely to become law unless it receives Government backing, but its timing is pertinent in the current climate of change and uncertainty, when the industry is already increased scrutiny.

It’s worth noting that the PRCA, the industry representative of lobbying and communications professionals, has expressed support for a full register. In response to the Bill’s second reading last Friday, they put out the following press release:

“Lord Brooke should be applauded for calling for the inclusion of in-house lobbyists and including a more robust definition of lobbying. The current register’s narrow focus on consultant lobbyists excludes the majority of the lobbying industry. Time and time again, we have argued that the register cannot be truly representative and transparent unless it includes in-house lobbyists.’’

 

5 Steps to Successful Blogger Outreach

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The latest research says bloggers are way more influential than celebrities when it comes to promoting products and services. 

 

So how exactly do you get through to them? Our essential tip sheet lays down the law on successful blogger outreach. From negotiating payment to researching the right contacts and giving bloggers the credit they deserve, 5 Steps to Successful Blogger Outreach explains how to get it right.

 

Download our tip sheet now to find out:

 

  • What the UK’s leading bloggers think PRs are doing wrong in their outreach
  • How to build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that deliver return on investment
  • The best practices in collaborating with bloggers

Public affairs across the world: how does it work in different countries?

In the UK, public affairs is an established practice. The aim is to influence decision makers, play a role in the decision making process and know the risk and regulation affecting your industry. How does this compare to public affairs practices across the world?

Public affairs: a global perspective’ explores this question: edited by Stuart Thomson, it is collectively authored by public affairs experts from twelve countries and regions. It provides insight into the mechanics of public affairs abroad, whilst also showing you how best to actually engage with the Governments in question: as such, it’s an essential read both for the uninitiated and for public affairs professionals alike. Below we have some key points from China, America, and the Middle East

China

In China, public affairs is synonymous with government relations. It’s a pervasive part of commercial life, often being both the market leader and main supplier in the commercial chain. As such, Robert Magyar argues that good relations with the government mean good prospects for business. Equally, failing to engage means you risk isolating yourself from the most important stakeholder in the commercial world.

The lack of non-governmental stakeholders means the link between lobbying and democracy has some way to go: perhaps predictably, the most important thing that Magyar recommends remembering is to align yourself with the government’s priorities for any kind of engagement.

America

To many people, the American political system is seen as the home of ‘hard’ lobbying, and in comparison to other societies, this is arguably still the case. Despite this, Toby Moffet argues that changes in the nature of US politics have meant that the lobbying industry has had to change too.

Gridlock in congress and tighter lobbying regulations have meant that lobbyists have had to become more creative, and have ‘internationalised’ their trade, looking for business beyond American companies for to their foreign counterparts. According to Moffet, companies from abroad are less put off by the political stalemate and see opportunities to build relationships with the American government as reason enough to engage, even if they do not directly influence legislation.

The Middle East

A period of high growth and investment in the Middle East has, theoretically, led to the emergence of public affairs there. However Michael Sugich argues that in reality, while the commercial incentives for engaging in public affairs may exist, the transparency and government access needed to lobby are much harder to find.

The importance of cultural norms and practices in the Middle East can’t be overstated, and Sugich claims that the lack of local knowledge held by international companies is a major barrier to engagement. Geography plays a role here: as most companies base themselves in Dubai, their employees’ knowledge of the broader region is often limited.

This lack of understanding can lead to a lack of focus when engaging with stakeholders. For instance, an attempt to influence health care policy might be worthless, if the policy is decided by the leader’s wife and the influencers come from her inner circle. Without an understanding of the cultural differences between countries, public affairs in the Middle East has some way to go.

It’s Mayday for public affairs

Back in the 1960s former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said, “a week is a long time in politics”, and almost a century before that, the Liberal politician Joseph Chamberlain said, “in politics, there is no use in looking beyond the next fortnight”. This age-old political wisdom has never felt truer.  

In less than a month, the UK has voted to leave the EU, gained a new (and unelected) Prime Minister, and seen the most dramatic cabinet reshuffle by any Prime Minister ever. Oh, and let’s not forget that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, is facing more opposition from his own party than the Tories.

Policy and public affairs professionals across the country are being put to the test, pondering how to navigate their way through this new, redefined political landscape. After all, public affairs, an important sub-discipline of public relations, is based on the creation of relationships with politicians, the government and key political decision-makers. Relationships forged over the last months and years have become obsolete, with new officials in post but little clarity on who is actually going to be responsible for what.

Of course, we always have civil servants; those who work tirelessly behind the scenes shaping and developing the government policies that really affect both company objectives and individual lives. But with the merging of DECC and BIS (the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), and the newly created Minister for International Trade and Minister for Leaving the EU, even the departmental landscape is shifting.

Never before has it been more important to identify key political players and their responsibilities, to engage with them, and to build relationships.

As we find ourselves settling in to the long summer recess, it is time to take stock; under normal circumstances a time of release, instead we must now decipher our new government, understand our new ministers, and get our heads around our world in which Brexit is no longer a possibility but an inevitability.

Speaking to my own contacts and clients within the industry, this sense of uncertainty is everywhere. Who should we be contacting? Who’s in charge of what? How can we better understand these new departments? How can we get in contact with them? And what about Brexit?

In the current climate of disposable politics – with old alliances disappearing and new ones being constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed at an incredibly rapid pace – public affairs professionals must seek creative ways to build and manage new relationships right across the political spectrum.

Confused about the public affairs landscape?
Find out who’s who in our updated Political Contacts Database!

The Press Release Formula

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The press release is far from dead. Despite the real-time nature of modern media, well-written, well-designed, well-targeted releases can have a greater impact than ever.

Our latest tip sheet breaks down the anatomy of a press release, giving you a step-by-step understanding of the key points every press release must address.

This is followed by advice from the PR Coach, Debbie Leven to make sure every section of your copy is pitch-perfect.

With this white paper you will get:

  • A visual breakdown of the key elements of a press release
  • A detailed look at what every paragraph of a press release must entail
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Download our tip sheet and make sure your press releases work as hard as they can to tell your story.

Brexit: how Leave triumphed on the day

In a move that could be seen as controversial, PR Week has named Leave as its campaign of the month. But whether you agree with the politics or not, Leave did exactly what a political campaign should do: it evoked a response, inspired support and had a crucial element of passion that Remain was lacking.

The bickering between Leave groups threatened to overshadow the debate at times (although not to the same level as the Cameron – Johnson feud) but the divergence between Vote Leave and Leave.EU also meant that the public had a clear choice about which ‘type’ of independence supporter they wanted to be.

The fact that there wasn’t a cohesive side to support in the Brexit camp also meant that it had a broader appeal, in spite of some of the divisive elements of the campaigns. And as the outcome of the referendum illustrates, Leave didn’t just appeal to the typical UKIP voter: there was broad appeal from a cross section of society, which the various elements of the campaign reflected.

One criticism that was directed at Leave throughout the duration of the campaign was its tendency to push boundaries when it came to tone and fact. Nigel Farage’s now infamous ‘take control’ poster was roundly criticised, as was Leave.EU’s warning about ‘another Orlando style massacre’ if we stay in the EU. However, while they may have overstepped the mark at times, Leave campaigners also had a level of passion which Remain seemed to lack.

Crucially, campaigners could paint a rosy picture of the world outside of the EU, while the best Remain could go for was the underwhelming ‘life inside a reformed EU’. A vote for Brexit may have been a step into the unknown, but Leave managed to persuade the public that this was a risk it was worth taking.

Third Sector Best Practice Communications

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Twitter reacts to Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle

It was assumed that Theresa May would lead with a similar cabinet to her predecessor, so she shocked everyone this week when she dismantled, rather than reshuffled, the Conservative team. Here are the three changes which made the biggest impact on Twitter. 

Boris Johnson

May’s wild card was her appointment of Boris Johnson to Foreign Secretary,  a move that sent tremors throughout the diplomatic world: see State Department spokesman Mark Toner’s reaction to get an idea of how this appointment is viewed internationally.

Twitter fell into a flurry of (panicked) activity when the news was announced. Since his appointment, much has been made of Johnson’s previous gaffes involving world leaders, including the likes of Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and Turkish President Recep Erdoğan.

boris johnson

Michael Gove

Michael Gove’s sacking from Justice Secretary saw the dramatic demise of the man that one newspaper coined ‘’Britain’s worst political serial killer”. With one swoop, May reset the balance of power between Gove and Johnson, sending a clear signal about who had come out on top in their political struggle. While Johnson’s appointment generated far more activity, Gove’s social media mentions also increased significantly.

Michael Gove

 

The Huffington Post’s Paul Waugh also raised a legitimate concern for Gove now that Johnson is at the helm of our security services.

Paul Waugh

Jeremy Hunt

When Jeremy Hunt was called to Number 10, it was widely assumed he would not walk out as a cabinet member. Having been engaged in a dispute with the British Medical Association for much of his time as Health Secretary, journalists and the public alike were surprised when he emerged as one of only four cabinet members to retain their previous position. Hunt addressed the rumours with the tweet below.

 

Jeremy hunt

 

 

European and British media respond to Theresa May as new Prime Minister

A lot has changed in Britain in the last two weeks. Since the referendum we’ve had resignations from the leaders of two political parties, a leadership challenge launched against Jeremy Corbyn, and now a new Prime Minister in the form of Theresa May. Media outlets across both the UK and Europe have responded to this most recent piece of news. 

 

Typically, the Sun chose to concentrate on May’s well known choice of footwear,  also predicting that she will have a soothing impact on an otherwise conflict ridden Conservative party.

The Daily Mirror challenged Theresa May to an early general election, based on the ultimatum she set Gordon Brown when he became Prime Minister in similar circumstances in 2007. Many commentators on Twitter were baffled by the suggestion of an early election however, questioning the motives of a left leaning paper given the current state of the Labour party.

Within the UK press, the fault lines were drawn based on how much emphasis to put on May’s ‘short cut’ to power: the fact that after Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the leadership race, May was uncontested and so became Prime Minister without a vote from Conservative party members. The Telegraph made no mention of this, and for the Independent it was the focal point of the front page.

Across Europe

Leaving the EU has caused financial instability, weakened the Union and given rise to the far right across Europe: given this, European newspapers have, by and large, responded to Theresa May’s new position with relief. May is seen as a figure of stability and, having moulded herself as a one nation, ‘small c’ conservative, seems to have assuaged concerns that a power vacuum in Britain could see the rise of more extreme candidates. The BBC has translated responses from some key publications:

A major theme across the media coverage in Europe is that of May as the new Margaret Thatcher, with many also drawing comparisons between herself and Angela Merkel. The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera describes her as “a bit of Merkel, a bit of Thatcher” while Il Timpo, another Italian paper, notes that she has laid out her priorities for post-Brexit Britain “with the enthusiasm and determination of a woman who has already been dubbed the new Thatcher”.

Like much of the British press, publications across Europe have paid homage to May’s colourful choice of footwear, such as German newspaper Die Welt. Spanish newspaper El Mundo attributes her to having “high heels, firm step, absolute control, total loyalty”.

Thanks to the BBC’s Nick Sutton for the front page images.

 

Women in public affairs: what’s changed and what needs to change

This morning, the Women in Public Affairs Network met for a breakfast event with Stephanie Lvovich, Global Public Affairs Chair at Edelman and Anji Hunter, Senior Adviser at Edelman. They discussed the ups and downs of working in the industry, how things have changed and what more needs to be done. It made for an interesting conversation, with women from the wider public affairs and communications sector also sharing their experiences. Here are 6 things that came up.

  1. Being a woman in public affairs has gotten better:

In business, 10 of the top 100 FTSE 100 CEOs are women and most work in areas which have been traditionally male dominated. Similarly, when Anji started working in the House of Commons as a Research Assistant to Tony Blair, there were just 41 female MPs – now there are 191, making up 30% of the total intake, and there’s gender parity for MPs under 35. This isn’t perfect, but it bodes well for the future of gender balance in the House of Commons and, more broadly, for women in politics.

  1. Ignore the ‘silent critic’

Compared to thirty years ago, women in the UK are up against far fewer barriers in employment: there’s equal pay, maternity leave and legal protection against discriminatory practices. The biggest issue that both Stephanie and Anji see facing women today is a lack of self-belief, and the ‘silent critic’ which tells them that they shouldn’t really be going for that promotion or pay rise. Even Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg has experienced this: she says she felt embarrassed when she found out she’d made the Fortune 500. So while there are less structural barriers stopping women from achieving success, there may be more to be done on a personal basis.

  1. Public affairs is changing

Public affairs has a reputation for being an old boy’s club, and can be dominated by a ‘who do you know’ not ‘what do you know’ way of working. But, as Stephanie points out, it seems to be moving from a space where relationships define your career to one where strategy, knowledge and issues are more dominant. This change in focus may benefit the women who don’t feel part of the old boy’s club.

  1. Women in politics face some unique problems

For women in politics, likability and success is inversely correlated. There’s a balance that needs to be struck between authority, which we assume politicians should have, and softness, which we assume women should have. As such, female politicians have a hard time trying to get this balance right in a way that voters find compelling. In the near future we may have a female Prime Minister, President and Leader of the Opposition, so it will be interesting to see how the media and public view them in this respect.

  1. Quotas have a time and a place

Politics and public affairs are areas that have improved in terms of female representation, but as one attendee pointed out this morning, there are still large proportions of the industry which are heavily dominated by men. In terms of making change happen, there was general consensus that quotas serve the purpose of normalising the position of women in male dominated workplaces. As all-female shortlists for MPs have shown, this isn’t something which needs to be permanent, but works as a means to drive change.

  1. Brexit and PR

Unavoidably, Brexit came up in conversation. From a business perspective, the insecurity and lack of confidence that Brexit has created was broadly viewed with concern. From a PR perspective, it also raised interesting questions about how the industry now has to understand and reach out to the 17 million people who voted to leave the EU.

 

Hooked! PR that journalists can’t resist

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Is it time for politics to fall in line with advertising standards?

The referendum is over, and whatever your opinion of the outcome, there are few people who would say that the campaign has been a victory for informed debate. Both the Leave and Remain campaigns came under heavy criticism for the tone and quality of information which they produced. This has started a conversation about the standards that political advertising should be held to: is it time that politics fell in line with the rest of the advertising world?

On the Remain side, David Cameron decided voters might be swayed if they believed ISIS supports Brexit, and the Treasury put out so many reports about the impending financial doom that they lost any impact. Nigel Farage’s ‘’breaking point’’ poster also came under heavy criticism, which used non-white refugees crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border as a warning against European migration to the UK. But perhaps the biggest kick in the face to the electorate was Vote Leave’s claim that £350million a week would be available to put into the NHS in the case of Brexit, a figure which the Institute for Fiscal Studies described as “clearly absurd”. Farage was first to backtrack on this, just hours after the final result was declared, and Ian Duncan Smith has since distanced himself from both the figure and its implications for public services in the UK.

Former Karmarama executive creative director Sam Walker told Campaign magazine that political ads should fall under the same regulations as any other form of advertising. While there are penalties for pedalling racist or sexist advertising campaigns, Walker raises the point that in politics, there are no repercussions for campaigns which have obviously racist undertones. Similarly, politicians aren’t held to account for selling mistruths such as the £350 million per week claim, even though the outcome has far greater implications than commercial advertising usually would.

In the UK, a petition has been started on the government website, calling for it to be made illegal to knowingly mislead the public during political campaigns. With the US elections on the horizon and with Trump’s propensity to peddle extremes, it would be interesting to see how his campaign would be different if this were the case.

 

Vote leave: where the media leads, the British public follows

Press Gazette’s ‘Brexitometer tracker chart’, which adds up the total number of front pages which favoured Remain versus Leave throughout the referendum, showed an overwhelming tendency towards Leave in the UK press. After much talk of the power of social rather than traditional media during this campaign, does this show that the mainstream press can still sway public opinion?

Referendum social media

Leave (red) versus Remain (orange) front pages

The Sun, which has a much touted tendency to pick the winning side in political events, would certainly argue that it does. And as correlations go, it’s a pretty strong one: if you were to have based your referendum predictions on social media, you could be forgiven for assuming that Remain would edge it. Yet as we can see below, there was a clear tendency towards pro-Brexit headlines in traditional print, countered by only two strong Remain voices from the Guardian and the Times.

Brexit papers

Proportion of Leave to Remain front pages by newspaper

This raises questions about the direction of information flows: does the press set the agenda or follow it? Newspaper editors are usually quick to claim they mirror the opinion of their readership, and so headlines we have seen in recent months about, for instance, migrant workers, are a reflection of fears rather than attempts to stoke them. Even so, the UK press is historically Eurosceptic and even when public opinion was veering towards Remain, the majority of headlines were anti-EU. If you take a look at the EU’s Euromyths page, you can also gain an idea of the misinformation which is pushed by certain outlets: whether setting or following the agenda, it seems the UK press is certainly not averse to embellishing the truth.

Download the Vuelio summary of EU referendum stakeholder reaction and media analysis here. 

EU Membership Referendum – Stakeholder Response & Media Analysis

EU_referendum_white-paper_thumbnailSo it’s Brexit – and the only thing that seems certain right now is that there will be big changes. How you can get on top of events and start building for a future outside the EU?

With the British people starkly divided and financial markets in turmoil, we’ve analysed the media reaction and rounded up all the opinion, comment and insight from key stakeholders, business and community leaders – to give you the best chance to prepare for what’s next

Fill out the form to download it now.

EU referendum: The 6 stand-out events of the campaign

With just two days to go until the referendum, we look back on the stand out events of the campaign period. 

1. The Tories split
Divisions in the Conservative party have dominated headlines more than the referendum itself. The Conservatives can usually be relied upon to tow the party line and display unity in parliament, but the EU has brought long standing and deep rooted divisions to the fore. Cameron has been met with disdain from his backbenchers during PMQs, open letters questioning the economic wisdom of his government and the combined force of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson working against him. Thursday’s result will be important for more reasons than just our membership of the EU: a vote to leave also has big implications for the Conservative leadership.

2. Dodgy marketing
See our previous blog post for a more in depth look at this, but the referendum has seen both sides make some terrible, and at times hilarious, marketing faux pas. From the Wetherspoon’s beer mat to the ill-fated #Votin campaign, the prospect of such a close result has meant that desperate measures have been taken to get your vote.

3. A change in debate?
Immigration has been top of the agenda throughout the campaign period, prompting a debate over the tone that arguments have taken at times. From Boris Johnson’s comments about President Obama’s Kenyan heritage to UKIP’s most recent anti-immigration poster, there have been claims that the tone has been at times too aggressive. The murder of pro-immigration MP Jo Cox has reignited the debate again, with calls for all aspects of the campaign to be treated with more humility.

4. Labour fails to make an impact
Concerns have mounted throughout the campaign period that the pro-EU message of the Labour leadership has failed to resonate with voters. After a survey revealed that many Labour voters are unaware which side of the debate Jeremy Corbyn comes down on, a more concerted effort has been made to get his message across. With traditional Labour voters a key group that has been defecting to UKIP, this is a major area of concern for pro-EU Labour MPs.

5. Stubborn voter preferences
As has become increasingly clear over the course of the referendum, if there’s one thing that is likely to inspire indifference in the electorate, it’s politicians. While Westminster character-clashes may have captured the public’s attention, polls have shown that debates, speeches and research has had an almost negligible impact on voting preference. Similarly, the mainstream media has shown a dwindling level of influence on the public: this has been a campaign where social media has come to the forefront of the debate.

6. Nigel Farage takes a flotilla up the Thames
While this really belongs in the ‘dodgy marketing’ camp, Farage’s river based antics get a spot all of their own on this list. If one outspoken figure trawling the Thames and shouting about the EU wasn’t enough, excitement levels increased even more once it became apparent that Bob Geldof was countering his flotilla with one of his own.

Vote Leave and Leave.EU: steering themselves towards Remain?

In a race as close as the current EU referendum campaign, an interesting development has occurred: the most competitive parties are not Remain and Leave, but actually the two main groups campaigning for Brexit. Vote Leave and Leave.EU have been unable to put their differences aside and come together for their cause, leaving some big gaps in their communications strategy. Both sides are so hungry to be the face of Brexit that they have created a two-pronged approach to campaigning, muddying the waters in an already murky campaign.

Most recently the official, and largely Conservative, campaign group Vote Leave has threatened legal action against ITV for pitting Nigel Farage against David Cameron in an upcoming Q&A session.  A source from Vote Leave seems to have promised retribution, claiming that “ITV has effectively joined the official In campaign and there will be consequences for its future – the people in No 10 won’t be there for long.” And as ITV takes flak from Vote Leave, Leave.EU has turned on the BBC for not offering Farage a seat against anyone more prominent than Nicola Sturgeon.

That Vote Leave has threatened legal action based on this decision symbolises the tone of the referendum debate so far, which has seen mudslinging take precedence over substance throughout. However, there is an issue when one of the most prominent anti-EU campaigners is not part of the official campaign to leave. Farage is seen as a divisive figure by many in Vote Leave, which has been keen to take a less immigration-centric stance throughout its campaign. But like him or not, he’s a key figure in Brexit circles, and one whose party came third in the general election campaigning on this issue alone.

The next three weeks will be a test of endurance for both groups: will their will to win an out vote overcome their desire to see each other’s campaign fail?

PR in the Community

pr_in_the_community_white_paper
Think community is optional? It’s not – in fact, your organisation is already part of at least one network and probably many more, as your markets, partners, suppliers and employees connect up across a variety of social media.
Every organisation is a potential community hub. Our new guide tells you how to make yours efficient, effective, and accountable.
As a PR, you already have all the skills you need to make your community successful. Not only should you play an active role in your organisation’s community, but you should also be the one to lead it, nurture it and make it flourish.

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Marketing community reveals Brexit apprehension

A survey conducted by the Marketing Society, published in today’s issue of Campaign, has revealed the marketing community’s overwhelming support for remaining part of the EU. The research showed that 77% of respondents – senior marketers and agency executives – are in favour of voting to remain. Meanwhile, 8% are unsure how they would vote and 15% are in favour of leaving.

When asked about the impact that remaining in the EU would have on short-term business confidence, 94% of those interviewed said they believed it would be positive. Just 2% think that remaining in the EU will be detrimental, while 4% are unsure. 88% of respondents agreed EU membership had positive implications for travel in and around Europe, 4% said they thought travel would become worse and the remaining 8% did not know.

Opinion becomes more divided when it comes to factors such as immigration and company growth. 69% of respondents believe that there would be a positive impact on the growth of their organisation if the UK were to remain, while 27% answered ‘‘don’t know’’- the biggest proportion of this response for any question asked in the survey. The most polarising question relates to immigration: only 32% of marketers feel that remaining will have a positive impact on immigration in the UK, while 46% feel this would have negative consequences. Notably, this is the only area where negative responses outweigh positive ones.

The difference in opinion over immigration becomes all the more pertinent when viewed in relation to the views of the wider public. A recent Ipsos Mori poll also shows this issue to be definitive: if immigration figures fall, only a small number of leave voters say they will instead vote to remain. In contrast to this, 44% of remain voters say they will vote to leave if figures rise by 100,000.

Despite this, the results point towards a fairly certain vote of confidence for remaining part of the EU from senior figures in the marketing community. Given their job role, the question is now whether they will harness their skills to boost the prospects of the remain campaign.