Monday, May 14, 2007

Projecting the wrong image

Gordon Brown yesterday participated in the first of a series of debates between himself and fellow contenders for the Labour Party leadership. While these are not televised in total, the parts the media have chosen to show offer a very poor perception of Gordon Brown and, if this is representative of his demeanour throughout the debate, could signal a flaw in his self-rebranding process. When Meacher and McDonnell were stating their case Brown looked at best indifferent at worst bored. His responses were dismissive of his left wing colleagues, despite them representing views that have support within the party. Worse he seemed unwilling to engage on the issues, instead insisted on pushing his own agenda and policies dismissing alternatives out of hand.

The problem is that this contrasts sharply with the stress Brown placed upon 'listening' when launching his campaign. If one watches his Youtube video (below), one sees him listening and interacting with voters:
But this does not get coverage on the mainstream media, if more airtime is given to the debates, and hence the public see him not listening, thus perceive him as self-obsessed and insistent that he is right, the rebrand will not be successful. While he may make the distinction between listening to the public and listening to the party left, the audience may not; perceptions are important and the media has the power to shape perceptions, hence what the BBC/ITV or Sky say and show could be far more important than the carefully crafted Youtube performance.

5 comments:

Heather Yaxley said...

Interesting that you note it is all about presenting perceptions - whether the media or the Brown-camp. Any chance of forming our own perceptions - or not?

Darren G. Lilleker said...

Well 'we' do, but where do we get the information on which to base our perceptions and attitudes. Brown evidently thinks he can improve his standing and claims that in his journey to leadership he will listen and learn, as opposed it would seem to his years as chancellor. Many things may form perceptions between now and the next we are asked to choose, however if the media does shape perceptions (and academics claim it can and does without any oher influences) then how Gordon appears on the news matters a lot.

Heather Yaxley said...

And how the public - and the media- interpret how he appears on the news also depends on prior perceptions. Chickens and eggs?

Darren G. Lilleker said...

The key question here then is where existing perceptions come from. Literature says that face-to-face experience produces the strongest perception, but for the other 98% of the population logic suggests it is from the media. Cumulatively is it positive or negative it depends. This leads us to the idea of agenda setting, when a politician talks of listening and learning the media report it, thus the public begin to think about that concept and may well judge if the politician is actually listening and learning, or willing to do so. This may be based on existing perceptions, wherever they come from, possibly related to media coverage, as well as the immediate performance when the audience is thinking about one particular aspect of his performance character. I think amimportant question is whether we ever form our ownperceptions or just think that we do - hard to saythe originof our perception of any public figure.

Anonymous said...

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