LibLink: Mark Pack – Nick Clegg turns media weakness into media strength

Over on his work blog, The Voice’s Mark Pack has a post looking at the extremely successful media coverage of Nick Clegg’s speech on tax policy, with the party using the fact that much of the media is still surprised by the idiosyncracies of coalition to our advantage.

Here’s a sample:

In a country used to coalitions, having the leader of one of the parties in government talk about their tax priorities a few months ahead of a budget would not be remarkable. With the British media habits, it had made today’s speech from Nick Clegg to banner news – lead story on the Today program’s news headlines, front page banner headline in the Daily Telegraph, a wide range of TV interviews and more.

Nick Clegg and his team have not stinted in their media push – heavy pre-briefing of the media, that large round of interviews (trailed in advance on Twitter) and a crack of dawn email from Vince Cable.

That email even leads readers through to a web page on the party’s website which contains a personal story illustrating the party’s views on tax:

Imagine a mum who works 3 days a week as a teaching assistant – earning £10,000 a year or just over £190 a week. Under Labour she paid more than £1,000 in income tax and national insurance. Although she wanted to work more days a week she knew it was not financially worth it. Under Labour; once tax, tax credits and housing benefit has been deducted, for every extra pound she earned she was able to keep just 10.5p.

“Under our plan she would see her income tax bill cut to zero making her £700 a year better off.”

For anyone in communications, the use of such personal stories is a standard way of simplifying complex details and giving the message more emotional impact. That has made the frequent absence of such stories a cause of complaint from party members such as political narrative expert Neil Stockley in the past. Key phrases to trigger the right emotional reaction (to Lib Dem leaning voters) are also scatted through the page, including “super rich”, “hedge fund managers” and “ordinary workers”.

You can read Mark’s post in full here.

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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2 Comments

  • Ruth Bright 26th Jan '12 - 5:08pm

    On Tuesday I was due to go for an interview for a part-time (but not very well paid) job I would have loved and would have fitted in quite well with my family commitments. Unfortunately I had to pull out because the close relative I was hoping could provide some free childcare was no longer able to do so. I am not entitled to any benefits so that wasn’t a factor it’s just that once I had to pay for all my childcare it was barely worth working. This policy would have made it worth working.

    This policy will help real people, right now. What a shame to couch it in the cynicism of “key phrases to trigger the right emotional reaction”.

    Perhaps all those clever comms people are now looking for some “key phrases to trigger the right emotional reaction” to some less attractive policies like abolishing the social fund in its current form.

  • David Pollard 27th Jan '12 - 10:16am

    The discussion about Nick Clegg’s speech on Newsnight was deplorable. The BBC just does not get the Coalition. Its about time our spokespersons on TV explained what it was all about, and did not go on the defensive. If we have to treat BBC interviewers like children and be paitent until they understand, then so be it.

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