Strong and Stable – Was it a PR Mistake

People got a bit surprised when they heard about snap elections in UK. This was also due to the fact that British Prime Minister had earlier said that no matter what she will not call snap elections. When this surprise call was made there was a huge gap of 24 points in opinion polls between the two main contesting parties and although people were told that this call is made for strong leadership in Brexit negotiations, this poll differential was the mouth watering reason for calling an early election.

But a week before the election things have drastically changed and the poll differential has shrunk down to 3 points which started at 24 in April. So what has changed and more importantly why? It’s the same Brexit and the same NHS and the same social care issues etc. with which Theresa May had acquired, what looked like an invincible lead before the election was called.

For sure things happened on communication / PR front. Key Messages could not bear the test of discussion once they got exposure at the right forums. Something that was not happening in the absence of election fever. So which messages just evolved in the campaign and resulted in a drastic shift in opinion polls. Following are some which came to my mind. Don’t forget that the slogan or the mother of all the election communication Strong and Stable got the biggest hit in this election process. Had this not been the slogan most of the criticism could not have been born.

  • PM calling snap elections, although earlier she had very categorically said that this will not happen. This was a U Turn, something which does not reflect well on Strong and Stable leadership.
  • PM not appearing for debate with the reason that she will prefer to talk to people rather than politicians. Well at the end of the day politicians are competing as they always do in an election. This again did not reflect well on PM’s claim of having Strong and Stable leadership qualities.
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s change of mind and decision to participate in debate and throwing open challenge to the PM was a very good PR move.
  • PM giving the message that she is the only one who can negotiate on Brexit. There is no logic behind this which would convince anyone that she is the best among all. This does not reflect on ability but on arrogance and was a continuation of her earlier chest beating claim that she will prove a bloody difficult woman during Brexit negotiations. Only in WWE circus claims are made this way.
  • No Deal vs Bad Deal. Again a grey area of communication. Totally vague. Left her own voter confused and also contrary to her claim that only she has the capability to negotiate a great Brexit deal.
  • U Turn on Dementia Tax. This generated huge backlash giving birth to all sorts of negative messages for torries campaign. This is where Weak and Wobbly was born.

In all, “Strong and Stable” message which was suppose to guide the tories to a comfortable election victory became a PR mistake, driving all the ridicule and criticism towards their campaign.

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#PR Mistakes During #GeneralElection2017 #PublicRelations #CorporateCommunications #Conservatives #Labour

People got a bit surprised when they heard about snap elections in UK. This was also due to the fact that British Prime Minister had earlier said that no matter what she will not call snap elections. When this surprise call was made, there was a huge gap of 24 points in opinion polls between the two main contesting parties and although people were told that general elections have been announced for strong leadership in Brexit negotiations, this poll differential was the mouth watering reason for the entire excecise.

But a week before the election things have drastically changed and the poll differential has shrunk down to 3 points which started at 24 in April. Since it is a trend, it is likely to continue. So what has changed and more importantly why? It’s the same Brexit and the same NHS and the same social care issues etc. with which Theresa May had acquired, what looked like an invincible lead before the election was called.

For sure things happened on communication / PR front. Key Messages could not bear the test of discussion once they got exposed for public debate at the right forums, something that was not happening in the absence of election fever. So which messages just evolved in the campaign and resulted in a drastic shift in opinion polls. Don’t forget that the slogan or the mother of all the election communication from Conservatives, Strong and Stable got the biggest hit in this election process mainly because it was self praise and was hardly covering the issues. Had this not been the slogan most of the criticism could not have been born. On the other hand Labour’s For the Many Not the Few had far better appeal because it was addressing common person’s problems. Following are some of the PR messages, intended and unintended which did not go well with Brits.

  • PM calling snap elections, although earlier she had very categorically said that this will not happen. This was a U Turn, something which does not reflect well on Strong and Stable leadership.
  • PM not appearing for debate with the reason that she will prefer to talk to people rather than politicians. Well at the end of the day politicians are competing as they always do in an election. This again did not reflect well on PM’s claim of having Strong and Stable leadership qualities.
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s change of mind and decision to participate in debate and throwing open challenge to the PM was a very good PR move. It seems that during this campaign he has only capitalized on Theresa May’s Mistakes.
  • PM giving the message that she is the only one who can negotiate on Brexit. Too tall a claim. There is no logic behind this which would convince anyone that she is the best among all. This does not reflect on ability but on arrogance and was a continuation of her earlier chest beating claim that she will prove a bloody difficult woman during Brexit negotiations. Only in WWE circus, claims are made this way.
  • No Deal vs Bad Deal. Again a grey area of communication. Totally vague. Left her own voter confused and also contrary to her claim that only she has the capability to negotiate a great Brexit deal.
  • U Turn on Dementia Tax. This generated huge backlash giving birth to all sorts of negative messages for torries campaign. This is where antonym, Weak and Wobbly was born.
  • Another problem with the campaign was Tories refusal to pursue young voters to register to vote. According to Independent there was not a single message in this regard. Corbyn and Labour were doing that and as a result became more relevant for young voters ( https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/strong-stable-pr-mistake-aamir-abbasi-cipr-?published=t. )

In all, “Strong and Stable” message which was suppose to guide tories to a comfortable election victory became a PR mistake, driving all the ridicule and criticism towards their campaign. If you have a panoramic look at the campaign, most criticism on PM would not have born, if this was not the chosen PR message.

Is #Terrorism Strictly a #PR Exercise And What About #Counterterrorism ?

It is mighty difficult to depart from emotional part of a disastrous event and have a look at its logical part. When it comes to terrorism, let’s become insensitive for few minutes and decide to analyse terror events from a PR / Communications perspective. So when I make a claim that terrorism is solely a PR activity / campaign what ingredients are there for me to make a case? From defining Aims, Objectives, Target Audiences, Key Messages, Strategy, Tactics, Measurement and Evaluation, are all elements there?

It would not surprise us at all if we come to know that organizations like Daesh/ ISIS are continually indulged in evaluation and measuring results of their efforts. In fact if you look at some of the recent terror events, it gets revealed that ISIS was not directly involved and it was the effectiveness of their messages aimed at their target audiences with effective use of communication channels like social media, that motivated individuals to carry out the attacks of their very own. Hence giving ISIS the desired results. So there is no harm in adding the Evaluation and Measurement part to the list, making it a complete PR exercise.

According to Nicolas Henin, who was as an ISIS hostage, “They fear our unity, more than our air strikes.” He elaborates that in the aftermath of Paris attacks ISIS must be pleased to see that the world has given them what they wanted in the shape overreaction, division, fear, racism and xenophobia. The pictures from Germany of people openheartedly welcoming migrants is not liked by ISIS. So the desired terrorism PR objectives are pretty much defined.

Having said that terror is a PR activity with well defined objectives, key messages, strategies, tactics and outcomes, the next question that comes to my mind is: Is there a counter terrorism PR strategy with a well defined narrative. We have United Nations and Organization of Islamic Cooperation etc. and then there are very capable western democracies who have also been on the hitlist but have we seen an organized PR effort when it comes to counter terrorism?

Any such effort that you may have noticed is most likely to be on individual basis or have come from Muslim community in the western world which obviously can be seen in the backdrop of their safety and security concerns. But is there an honest organized PR effort to counter the terrorism narrative?

This is one aspect where there is big question mark. Unless we are able to neutralize terrorism narrative through an organized or concerted PR effort, any hope of success will remain a shallow dream.

Today I read a very interesting quote by Khalid Latif which sums up what I have tried to say above, “Organized evil will always triumph over disorganized righteousness.”

ENDS

Customer Service is the shortest definition of Public Relations. Those who respond to customers in shortest possible time will build the fruitful relationship.