Ed, speak human!

2nd July, 2011 11:39 am

ed speaks human.jpgBy Vincenzo Rampulla / @VMRampulla

“Message discipline, just remember message discipline” – I can easily imagine the advisers intoning this to Ed Miliband for his recent BBC interview. It is what communications professional always advise. So why didn’t it work?

Putting aside whether the position was right or not (that’s a totally different blog post) – there was a cogent position but the team failed to get it out properly.

Shane Greer’s already tackled the challenge of modern media consumption sets for this type of technique. But the wider point is that all the tactics, the strategy and effort should be based on letting Ed ‘speak human’.

If anyone could turn to me and convince me that the reality is that “put aside your twittery and online chatter, the public understand what Ed’s saying” then that would be fine. But that is manifestly not the case.

If anything ordinary people now just see Ed being castigated by his supporters for being robotic. He hasn’t come out as a leader, fiercely independent and able to fight his own battles, he’s come off as just another politician.

Surely it could have been different…

I’m no expert but, hindsight apart, where was the well crafted opinion column in The Sun before the strike talking to normal people outside of the Westminster bubble?

He’s done it before. It is Sun readers that the ordinary people Ed should be looking to speaking to.

The blog post on the June 28th wouldn’t of and didn’t have the same impact.

On the day of the strikes the feeling was probably that he needed to face down (or maybe fan) criticism, so where was the blog on LabourList? Time was spent crafting “I wanted to respond to people who disagree with me about today’s strike” but the post could only have been read on the margins.

That post should have been dropped in the midst of Ed’s natural community (on LabourList or wherever), and cast as Ed facing down his critics on their own turf.

Finally, it was the right decision to do a BBC spot and to speak for himself.

Yet presumably his people knew the basis of the interview and knew that Ed had a cogent position that he’d be articulating in his LGA speech a little later. It wasn’t a combative or aggressive interview. So he could have ignored the interviewer’s questions and just spoke around the same points as in his speech.

‘Message discipline’ just means don’t get pulled away from what you want to say, it doesn’t necessarily mean at all times repeat yourself ad nauseam. Hopi Sen has a good post on this here.

But what do I know is this – I want Ed to speak human.

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