Now I’ve got all that rage out the way it’s time to reflect and I have to say that, though we were badly beaten, I’m surprised that we did as well as we did with the campaign we had. Not to put too fine a point on it, but from a communications point of view, our campaign was shit. I work in communications and have supported Labour all my life, and I still don’t know what our key messages were.
Our communications and marketing strategy must be much improved, not just for the next election, but now, in opposition. We need to find the right individuals or organisations with the right creative vision to take the party forwards because another election with comms as bad as that will be a missed opportunity.
However, it’s not just the quality of our strategy, our campaign was also badly organised. It’s 2010 but cold calling, door-stepping and leafleting was our campaign. We have a massive pool of supporters, but getting them involved went no further than ‘can you hand out some leaflets’, or an e-mail from Peter Mandelson asking for a donation and asking us to tell friends to vote Labour.
I know we can’t match the funds of the Conservative Party but I’m sure we can match their resources. We have to start by reorganising the structure of the Labour party, to allow everyone to get involved in ways that are exciting to them and useful to us. The division of the party down constituency lines is important as to a certain extent, doorstepping does work, people need to see their candidates and the local community is important. However, I think that we need to activate party members rather than recruit activists. If we’re honest, the rosette-wearing activist from any party is a massive turn-off to everyone (no offence), and that style of politics isn’t right for everyone. As long as the party is organised in this way we’ll continue to have a relatively one dimensional relationship with the electorate. I say we need more ambassadors, less activists.
We have to engage our members and remember that we cannot arrogantly rely on their support just because they’re already members. We must also remember that, if we do engage them effectively we can do so much more than simply rely on their support. This means that we need to work not only on our external comms strategy, but we also need a properly planned internal comms strategy.
I have to say, as a party, I’m not sure if we’re very well organised, as a party member I certainly feel that the party could do a much better job of communicating and interacting with me. What do other party members think?
Also, communities no longer define themselves by location. In the modern world, someone’s personal ‘village’ can contain people from all over the world , so organising our party by constituency, whilst representing our electoral system no longer represents our society.
Therefore, I’d like to propose a new additional layer of party organisation, I’d like the party to create groups for Labour members with similar trades or interests to meet both online and in person, to debate and to work together for Labour. The number and type of groups is limitless really. However, thinking about my career and interest, when I imagine what the Labour Advertising, Marketing & Media Group could do it’s quite exciting.
These groups could meet and organise nationally, regionally and locally and would give members a chance to interact with each other and the party. This would not only give Labour an inside track to the issues and concerns of people from within these industries (and therefore insight and policy ideas) but could also provide a resource of ideas, skills and labour for the campaigns. It would mean that we could properly brief people in these groups so they could properly answer criticisms, deliver key messages and therefore become an army ambassadors. Instead of a Business Secretary saying what Labour have done or would do for manufacturing we could have people within manufacturing doing this job within their own business and personal communities, and then giving high quality feedback to the party. Modern marketing is about conversations rather than old fashioned experience of viewing or watching advertising after all.
Coming specifically on to LAMM Group (it’s got a name, in my head that means it’s real), imagine what this could have done in the election, to have a large number of passionate, intelligent, creative and ORGANISED individuals from advertising, digital, entertainment, maybe even the press, working together to assist in the campaign in ways that actually utilise their skills and about which they are excited?
We can’t afford to buy media and we’re facing a right wing press, then surely we need to go back to our ideals. Surely the Labour way is to work co-operatively, to see the best in our members, and to make sure that those with skills get to utilise them? This way we’ll not only be overcoming the barriers that we face, but it would also be placing our ideals at the very core of how we organise, and how we communicate.
I haven’t thought this through as an idea completely yet so it’s a bit whooly, and I’ve also rather selfishly looked at it from the angle I best understand, so please let me know what you think. I’d be interested in hearing the following such as… What groups do you think we should create? Do groups like this already exist that need promoting? Should we even bother? Do we need to set them up ourselves? Does old fashioned activism work?
Drop a comment in down there and let me know!