Posts Tagged ‘election’

Laws of Attrition

New media commentators have decreed that the age of the personal PR minder is dead. “Long live Twitter” is their clarion call. It’s the new communication tool for folk in the public eye. Openness and willingness to feed the twitter cycle offers an opportunity to unveil the ‘real you’; to be judged as well as to engage in an open, public conversation.

Who needs a flak when you talk directly to the people? The evidence that stellar Twitter personalities – in the shape of Ashton Kutcher, Jonathan Ross, Stephen Fry and Sarah Brown – have benefited from this thesis is proof that they are shining examples of successful DIY #PR 3.0. Read the rest of this entry »

Lobbying for Power

Most people in the country are worrying about the leadership of the country under the new coalition, and their concerns for the nation run to a number of issues, from what will happen with capital gains tax, what will happen with inheritance tax, will there or won’t there be cuts in public services, will the economy survive and will we have a stable government?

Not me. I have perceived a new threat. I am wondering nervously what the reaction will be when the nation wakes up and realises that they have, in David Cameron, an ex-PR man as Prime Minister. An ex-PR man, moreover, of whom Jeff Randall – quoted in the Mirror – said: “In my experience, he never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wined, Dined and Politically Inclined

I went to supper at the small but deliciously formed Texture restaurant in Portman Street last night with our clients, the government of South Australia, hosted by the Agent General, Bill Muirhead, to celebrate the First Family of Australian wine production.

I sat next to Robert Hill Smith, who runs the Yalumba winery. Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery – it was set up in 1849 by Robert’s great great-grandfather, a Dorset brewer called Samuel Smith who emigrated to Australia, made some money from gold and set up the winery which he named after the indigenous Australian word for “all the land around”.

Also there was someone who knows a fair bit about all the land around – or around politics at the least; Lynton Crosby. He masterminded several Australian election victories for John Howard, the failed 2005 election campaign for the Conservatives and Boris Johnson’s successful mayoral campaign. So when he started to talk about the recent election, I could not help but listen intently. Read the rest of this entry »

The Spin and the Power

Most people in the country are worrying about the leadership of the country under the new coalition, and their concerns for the nation run to a number of issues, from what will happen with capital gains tax, what will happen with inheritance tax, will there or won’t there be cuts in public services, will the economy survive and will we have a stable government?

Not me. I have perceived a new threat. I am wondering nervously what the reaction will be when the nation wakes up and realises that they have, in David Cameron, an ex-PR man as Prime Minister. Read the rest of this entry »

Post-Election Stuntwatch: Wrestling for Control

The failure of anyone to take meaningful control of the country in the wake of the General Election says a great deal about the hype that the media work up as a cappuccino froth of sound bites. It felt like going to a bad movie – the trailer was exceptional but the movie itself is overlong and a terrible letdown.

We may have had debates, but the analogue TV hype didn’t change voters’ hearts. We may have seen an upsurge of the digital agenda, but Twitter and the new transparency still doesn’t reach the soul of the country, doesn’t reach the grassroots. The election has forced us to question the people pulling the strings. Read the rest of this entry »

Election Stuntwatch: Gordon’s Gaffe on Tape

Finagle’s Law of Dynamic Negatives states that ‘anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment!’.

From now on, I suspect, any political instance of this law in action will be known as the ‘Brown Variant’, after unguarded remarks about a woman he had just spoken to on a walkabout were broadcast to the world. He condemned Gillian Duffy as a ‘bigot’ into a radio mic he didn’t realise was still live.

Unsurprisingly, the press have pounced. What is surprising is that this is the first serious gaffe on any side in a flawless, highly polished election campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

Political Stuntwatch: General Election 2010

Given that an election tends to exist in a crowded little bubble all of its own and that there are now ever more ways of competing for attention, with iPhone apps, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and the like being utilised by every politico going, journalists are going to have a harder time than ever getting to the heart of the matter – policy – and the election is likely to be run on stunts.

We’ve already had one hysterical moment, with David Cameron turning in a karaoke version of Obama when he rolled up his sleeves yesterday. He may have been trying to look hip, but looked more like the sort of embarrassing school teacher who apes trends remorselessly – two years after they’ve come off the boil. Unlike embarrassing teachers, Cameron made the news. Read the rest of this entry »

Election! The End of the Phony War

There have been weeks and weeks of phony electioneering and, finally, this morning Gordon Brown has told the world what we already knew – the election will be on 6th May.

From the negative electioneering of mashed up, satirical posters, to the dusting down of the old Saatchi creative team – to deliver up what Cameron’s mob hope to be a coup de gras to Labour (as was done under Thatcher) – its been a long and spectacularly phoney war; one that has, alarmingly, only focused on the media process. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity and the Dying Art of Debate

I took part in a debate at the University of Westminster last night alongside that wily old fox Max Clifford (the second time I’ve shared a stage with him – it always makes for an interesting experience) and others, discussing Celebrity Brands: Desire, Dollars and Danger?

It was a rather curious and disappointing night; most of the questions from the floor were from people seeking insight via anecdote and I found myself missing the grillings I got from wannabe journalists 15 years ago about the nature of PR. The media has changed, without doubt – celebrity has come to be a sop they use to send us to sleep easily at night, a sort of weak-horlicks fairytale with all the calories and morals removed. Read the rest of this entry »

The Obama Project

When I first visited New York 32 years ago, I was strongly advised against walking through Harlem. 40 years ago, Martin Luther King was assassinated for daring to dream about racial integration. 13 years previous to that, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a bus and tipped the balance, beginning what has become, of late, an avalanche of change. Now, after decades of struggle, what was previously unthinkable – despite Jesse Jackson’s valiant attempts to stand for the presidency in the 1980s – has actually happened; a black man has been elected President of the USA and it feels good. 

Or at least it felt good for a little while, in the wake of John McCain’s gracious concession speech and Obama’s stirring acceptance speech. Now, only 12 hours later, the internet has started to breed colonies of bile and cynicism, hatred and demagoguery, which is spreading fast and picking away at the euphoria and hope, at that sense of history being made that anyone, of whatever political persuasion, must surely have felt when they woke to the news of Obama’s victory this morning.

It seems that the honeymoon is over almost before it started. Are people so cynical, in the wake of the Blair effect that came, eventually, to be seen as nothing more than spin and puffery, that they cannot even bask in the hope Obama offers for a little while? The internet opens us up to an endless array of opinion, and can be a great agent of change, but have the spinmeisters hardened us so much that we cannot see a good thing for what it is without having to rationalize it to death?

The most interesting detail in the Obama speech by far was when, in passing, he characterised the global economy – only in passing, mind you – as being in its worst state for more than a century. This strikes me as a genuine breakthrough and although it was only one sentence, it was clearly the product of much sweat in the back rooms of the Obama campaign. It is the sort of idea, surely, of a man prepared to try to do what he has pledged to do – change the world for the better. He has seen the problems the American people and the world face

The world should be focusing on these details, on the gracious pledge of help offered by John McCain, on the positivity that Obama’s election has engendered. If we listen to the haters, the people who booed the mention of Obama during McCain’s concession speech, the cynics who wonder, bitterly, if Obama can do anything he has promised so soon after the election, the Twitterers who compare his victory to the walk Blair took to 10 Downing Street which lead inexorably to the Iraq war, surely all is lost before it has a chance to be won.

Surely now is not the time for a PR backlash. Should we not all be hoping that Obama will live up to his promises, deliver change and fail to give any traction to the poisonous prophecies of the web’s anonymous nay sayers and doom-mongers?

Borkowski