Elections 2016: The top 5 results

Last Thursday, mayors were elected in major cities, local elections were held across the country and parliamentary elections took place in the devolved administrations. Here are some of the best bits.

1. Scotland turns blue

Significant parts of Scotland turned Conservative blue, with Labour polling behind them for the first time since 1910. For context, this was just before full male suffrage was implemented throughout the country in 1918- so a pretty momentous occasion for the Conservatives, and one that will offset what’s been a tumultuous few months for David Cameron.

2. The South turns red

In a further twist which turned the political spectrum on its head and baffled political commenters across the board, Labour pulled back ground in councils in the South of England. This may have been a snub to Cameron’s many assertions about the good results voters see ‘’when the South votes blue’’ and will have been welcome news to leader Jeremy Corbyn. Less welcome will be the key seats Labour lost in Wales, with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood snapping up their seat in Rhondda.

3. UKIP (and Neil Hamilton) take seats in Wales

UKIP gained 7 Assembly seats, although not, as we would have been led to believe, from Labour: the Lib Dems, Conservatives and Plaid bore the brunt of their gains. Neil Hamilton won a surprise seat for UKIP in Wales, and is already expected to challenge Nathan Gill for the post of UKIP assembly group leader when the party meets on Tuesday.

4. The mayoral elections break new ground

London elected its first Muslim mayor, which has caused Donald Trump to back-track on his pledge to ban ‘all Muslims’ from entering the US. In what may be his first attempt at international diplomacy, Mr Trump has conceded that Sadiq Khan would be allowed in as ‘an exception’. Meanwhile Bristol, a city built on the slave trade, has elected Marvin Rees: Europe’s first mayor of African or Caribbean heritage.

5. Equal marriage may be back on the cards in Northern Ireland

According to Amnesty International, at least 58 of the 108 elected Assembly members (MLAs) in Northern Ireland support the introduction of equal marriage – a marked shift, after the last assembly had repeatedly failed to introduce legislation to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

 

You can download the Vuelio media and stakeholder reaction to the 2016 elections here. This includes all the results and a round-up of reaction and commentary from the media and other stakeholders.

 

Political engagement: has anything changed?

Fueled by the prospect of a hung parliament, the 2015 election saw 66% of Britons turn out to the polls to vote. While this was proudly touted by the press as the ‘highest turnout since Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide’, dwindling political engagement has long been a concern for parliamentarians around the country. As the Hansard Society prepares to launch the 2016 Audit of Political Engagement on April 14th, we explore the key events that have sparked an interest from the public. 

The upcoming EU referendum has given the public a reason to get riled up, and it’s dominated social media like no other political topic. Ask a friend whether they think we should leave or remain and they’ll probably have an opinion: ask them why, and they may not be quite so sure. But whether it’s the drama of the campaign or the politics itself, it’s gripped the public in a way which has been lacking for some time. The graph below shows the high volume of twitter mentions since February, when the referendum was officially announced.  The only issue is that this will end on June 23rd.

 

Referendum twitter activity

Perhaps the rise of the ‘Corbynista’ will have a more long term impact. After the Conservative win and Ed Miliband’s resignation, Corbyn’s rapid ascent was fuelled by a monumental rise in Labour party membership. Between May and January 2016, numbers increased by around 137,000. To put this into perspective, nearly as much as the Conservative’s total membership of 150,000. Corbyn’s supporters are clear about what they want, which is something different to run of the mill Westminster politicians. Conservatives will find comfort in the fact that their voters are largely uninterested in being part of a party of activism, and Corbyn would probably struggle to be elected as PM- but he’s inspired engagement which most party leaders can only dream of.

The graph below shows the peak number of tweets relating to Corbyn and Cameron in the last month.

Corbyn Cameron Tweet Volume

Budget 2016 Reaction Summary

Budget 2016 The 2016 Budget was announced on March 16th. What was the media and public reaction? And what does it mean for you?
Read Vuelio’s 2016 Budget Stakeholder Reaction to see how key stakeholders and the media reacted to the news, and how the public responded on social media.

We’ve also included our Budget Summary from Wednesday, so you can to get a full breakdown of the main issues and get an understanding of how they affect you.

Fill out the form to download it now.

Charities, non-profits, NGOs – meet the shy content marketers

Building a strategic digital content marketing strategy can be difficult for any organisation. Finding the time to get to grips with multiple technologies and curate, create and distribute useful, actionable content through various channels (including your corporate blog, email, social media, PR activity, etc.) is hard enough, but many budding content marketers fall long before they even reach these hurdles. The real challenge is dreaming up the big ideas for your campaigns in the first place.

Consider the plight of the industrial widget sales organisation. Typically, their rather generic products are so dull that the mere thought of writing a blog post or issuing a press release is enough to drive even the most enthusiastic content writer to the edge of despair. Despite this they work diligently, dreaming up new ways of engaging an audience who are equally indifferent to their efforts – until they need a widget (in which case they will buy the cheapest one). How they must envy those organisations with a real story to tell.

The third sector – too shy

Typically, this is not a problem suffered by the third sector. It would be a real challenge to find a single charity, non-profit, voluntary, community or non-governmental organisation that didn’t have a whole raft of inspirational and highly actionable stories to tell. Let’s not forget, the third sector is largely fuelled by passion and passion is a vital component of any content marketing strategy.

The fact that content marketing can be managed on extremely tight budgets (it can even be free) should be enough of an incentive to encourage vast swaths of the third sector to jump on the content marketing bandwagon.

Despite these factors, many third sector organisations struggle to commit to a robust programme of content creation and, as a result, potentially miss out on opportunities to effectively communicate with their core audience of supporters, volunteers, activists and media allies. This represents a significant lost opportunity to make a real difference in thcontentmarketing1e communities they serve.

One of the biggest challenges the third sector face when it comes to creating compelling content is the fact that their stories often touch the lives of real people (often in difficult circumstances). For the inexperienced content producer, the challenge of seeking the permission of benefactors, recipients or other community members becomes a bit of a self-imposed roadblock.

How would you ask the parents of a sick child if they could front your next campaign? How can you seek permission from someone who is not in the position to fully comprehend your objectives?

You can see the difficulties some content producers face and why it might be easier not to engage in the first place. However, this should never be an excuse for not developing your content marketing efforts as the benefits will quickly put any doubts or fears into perspective.

Put in the ground work to reassure any subjects and ensure safeguards are in place to protect the vulnerable and you’ll be surprised how many people are willing and able to help. Get this right and the content will almost write itself, helping you to reach your goals and support your community.

The third sector cannot afford to be shy. If you’re still not convinced that it is time to rise to the challenge of effective content marketing in the third sector perhaps you should consider a change of career. The widget industry is always full of fresh opportunities – nope I didn’t think so.

Last week in politics- what got the public talking?

Every day the Vuelio Political Services team sends out the Westminster Daily, a preview of the day’s debates, speeches and legislation taking place in Parliament that keeps public affairs professionals on top of the political agenda. But how does this daily activity translate to the wider public? There were a few stand-out moments last week, notably the FCO’s report on life after Brexit and Lady Tanni Grey-Thompson’s speech on ESA cuts in the House of Lords. So what got the public talking on social media?

Social Media Mentions- Politics

Social Media Mentions by Issue

The EU Parliament was full of debates, questions and committee meetings on the upcoming referendum and unsurprisingly, Brexit chat also dominated social media. Mentions stayed high and constant at around 10 million throughout the week, and the topic’s global importance puts it far above any other issue terms of numbers. This was largely unchanged by the FCO’s report on the process of withdrawing from the EU; the biggest spike came on Sunday, coinciding with British Chamber of Commerce boss John Longworth’s resignation.

 

 Tax free childcare

During PMQs David Cameron came under attack from Jeremy Corbyn on the ‘hold up’ on tax-free childcare, which Cameron now says will be fully implemented by 2017.  Social media mentions peaked on Wednesday before plummeting, though the issue remained on Twitter’s radar for the remainder of the week.

 

English National Anthem Bill On Friday, MPs gathered for the second reading of the English national anthem bill which proposes that England should have an alternative anthem to God Save the Queen. The issue achieved a fair amount of traction on social media, peaking on Friday. The odds are out on whether the bill will pass, but polls suggest that God Save the Queen remains a favourite either way.

Welfare Reform and Work Bill

On Monday the House of Lords voted to block government plans to reduce some disability benefits by £30 per week. Lady Tanni Grey-Thompson gave a brilliant speech on the effect of cutting ESA for disabled recipients, which gathered publicity as the week progressed.

 

Politics and the art of deflection

It’s no secret that a major part of a politician’s job description is avoiding questions it may be best not to answer directly. A recent interview between the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and Justice Secretary Michael Gove shows a typical rally between journalist and politician with an interesting twist.

Pressing Gove on his claims that David Cameron’s recent EU renegotiations aren’t legally binding at an EU level, Kuenssberg faces the age old challenge of trying to get a straight answer out of a politician. Gove is in the position of campaigning against the Prime Minister, who also happens to be his boss, on the EU referendum. Politicians campaigning on an issue usually jump at the chance to label their opponents misleading, but here Gove has the task of being critical without undermining him.

When pressed on whether he disputes the legal status of Cameron’s deal, he replies ‘’let’s not put words into my mouth’’. Ultimately though, he does dispute it. While he point blank refuses to say the Prime Minister is wrong or has been misleading, by insisting that the ‘’European Court of Justice is not bound by this agreement’’ he is arguing that the Prime Minister is, well, wrong. And by default, as Kuenssberg points out, he has also been misleading.

Gove knows he’s been called out, but he’s not flustered enough to crumble. Again, this is a key part of any politician’s resume; you must be resolute enough to deflect logical argument, and able to hammer home your point no matter what. When the interview made headlines for all the reasons Gove had tried to avoid, he managed to cover his back because technically, no criticism was made of the Prime Minister himself.

 

Can a campaign work if its leaders won’t share a stage?

The EU referendum looks set to be a once in a lifetime opportunity- not only will the UK’s position in Europe be decided on June 23rd, but until then we have the chance to watch George Galloway, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson campaigning on the same issue. This will be interesting for all kinds of reasons, but how successful can the ‘out’ campaign be if its leaders won’t form a united front?

Brexit groups have breathed a sigh of relief after Boris Johnson announced on Sunday that he will be ’’advocating Vote Leave, or whatever the team is called’’. So while he won’t be joining the same campaign team as Farage and Galloway, he will be working towards the same goal. A recent poll estimates that Boris could add 15% to the Brexit vote, so he acts as a good buffer to Galloway and Farage’s unpopularity in certain circles. Despite this, the political make-up of the ‘out’ campaign raises some interesting questions.

How will it unify its message, and by default its supporters, with such a disparate group leading it? The ‘in’ campaign is filled with some fairly divergent, divisive individuals but it’s managed to avoid the public bickering that we’ve seen from the Brexit groups. This has become all the more significant since Johnson reiterated that he won’t be sharing platforms with George Galloway and Nigel Farage.

A good comparison to this situation is the AV referendum in 2011, when Ed Miliband refused to share a stage with his fellow ‘yes’ campaigner Nick Clegg. In the wake of the tuition fee debacle, it seemed like a good idea for Miliband to put as much distance between himself and Clegg as possible. In reality, it left the ‘yes’ campaign without strong leadership or a cohesive message. So the question for this referendum centres on a similar idea- can a campaign succeed if its proponents are at odds?

Getting the basics right in government communications

The challenges facing public sector communications departments are numerous: dwindling resources, slashed budgets and a disengaged public. With so many factors working against them, government marketing departments face an uphill battle when it comes to reaching and engaging with audiences.

GovDelivery has provided some guidance on this issue, setting out key areas to focus on. The advice may be more basic then you’d imagine. ‘Improving the citizen experience’ is a main concern, which means ensuring an organisation’s target audience is aware of its existence and the services it offers. This may sound simple, but 73% of respondents to a GovDelivery survey felt their target audience only had some understanding of the services their organisation provides.

A recent campaign from the Department of Work and Pensions provides a good example of how the government can learn from this. Tasked with cutting spending by 21% by 2019-20, the department made the decision to spend £8.45 million on a workplace pensions campaign, featuring ‘mascot’ Workie.  Described as ‘the physical embodiment of the workplace pension’’ by Minister Ros Altmann, Workie is here to show us that pensions aren’t scary, and they shouldn’t be ignored.  They’re actually quite…cute.

 

The basic message is certainly there. But according to a departmental press release, Workie is meant to ”change the country’s perception of pensions in the workplace”.  In as much as the DWP have tried to make pensions fun, have they actually turned them into something of a joke? And in times of austerity, such an expensive campaign may also be missing the mark in terms of the department’s wider message to the public.

What are the challenges facing government communications in 2016?

In an age of social media and instant information, it’s become increasingly important for government to develop effective digital strategies to keep citizens up-to-date. In much the same way as businesses in the private sector, they need convenient and rewarding digital interactions to meet our needs as tech savvy citizens.

The government needs to engage with the public for a number of reasons; new roads, different tax bands, changing weather alerts. However a recent survey of government communicators by GovDelivery has shed light on the gap between public and private communications; they rated their own sector just 4.7 out of 10, compared to private sector marketing which they scored 7.3.

When asked about their top four challenges in 2016, nearly 60% cited a lack of budget, about 50% said lack of resources and 45% said this would be driving audience engagement with content. Another 40% felt that driving customer satisfaction with online services or tools will be one of the biggest challenges in the coming year.

Some of these challenges are mostly predictable; the average person may be less interested in the latest tax return format then the latest Apple product. Equally, the resource difference between public and private sector organisations always has, and will always, be vast. But to keep people informed and hopefully even interested in government, public digital marketing must learn to use its resources in more dynamic, efficient and personalised ways.

The 5 Golden Rules of Social PR

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92% of marketers state that social media has generated more exposure for their businesses – but when it fails, it fails hard.

Our 2014 guide, The 5 Golden Rules of Social PR, spells out five must-follow rules for building your reputation while ensuring you never end up with a dreaded #PRFail.

Brimming with practical ideas, tips and examples, this definitive guide tells you how to:

  • Build online reputation
  • Create killer social media campaigns
  • Approach & engage key influencers on social networks
    Protect your brand from a PR disaster

7 Ways Social Media Has Changed PR

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Most PRS acknowledge that social media has changed public relations significantly. Indeed 60% of PRs use social media for more than one hour per day. But what impact has it had exactly and how do you best take advantage of these changes for your brand?

 

We’ve created a new guide. The 7 Ways Social Media Has Changed PR, to outline all you need to know.

Get the guide to discover:

• 7 ways social has made its mark on PR as we know it
• How PRs can identify and overcome the challenges of social PR
• Key comparisons of how journalists and PRs view and use social media

 

Download the guide now.

Listening – The Art Of Social Media Success

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Social media’s matured. How about your approach to it?

Our latest whitepaper tells you how social media listening can help your organisation achieve its goals.

You’ll learn:

  • Who in the organisation should be listening to social media, and how they should go about it
  • How to turn customer complaints into testimonials, influencers into advocates, and opportunities into revenues
  • When to lead, when to engage, and when to walk away from the conversation

With social media growth showing no sign of slowing, it’s more important than ever to understand how the right kind of listening can bring benefits right across your organisation.

Download the guide now.

The Press Release Clinic

Need to revive that dying press release?

Book your appointment at The PressRelease Clinic and watch as The PR Coach, Debbie Leven, explores, examines and remedies two press releases in real time – and in under 15 minutes. The free assessment is followed by a Q&A session where webinar attendees can get a diagnosis on their press release approach and quiz The PR Coach on what it takes to get positive results.

Check in at the Clinic to discover:

  • A complete guide to writing an effective press release
  • A checklist on the key elements journalists look for in a story
  • Post-op orders that best support distribution across digital platforms