Given that we are again seeing the death of spin, unlikely given that every government, organisation and individual spins as part of their daily life, there is much speculation about how different Brown will be in his communication. I found an interesting article buried away on the BBC News site by Brian Wheeler that discusses, using a range of experts, what the Brown approach should be.
Tim Bell, former advisor to Thatcher, makes the point that ending spin is impossible; but also highlights that "He is surrounded by public relations people and people advising him on what his image should be. If that is what his spin is, he is telling a lie." PR is ingrained in government, but not all PR is bad. PR can be used to facilitate a dialogue, at least theoretically, the problem is that spin has become synonymous with PR and a negative entrant into political discourse. Hence, as PR consultant Mark Borkowski, "Blair completely blew it. The great secret of political PR is to make sure no one sees the strings being pulled. If the media are talking about spin, it means you have failed,"
Neil Hourston, of TBWA, Labour's advertising agency at the 2005 general election argues Brown should be 'Mr No Nonsense'. Learning lessons from the success of the John Smith's Bitter advertising campaign, Brown should emulate Jack Dee or Peter Kay, Hourston argues. John Smiths was "the 'no-nonsense' ale against the nonsense of lager... David Cameron is like Stella Artois" When pitting John Smiths against brands like Stella "we had to have charm and wit. We were actually being a lot funnier than the opposition... If we made John Smith's too rational and literally no-nonsense, they would not understand the appeal of those values. They would probably find it a bit boring." So Brown must be straight talking, witty, convey a no-nonsense attitude, be the peoples brand perhaps. The big question, is it too late to build a new persona. The whole piece is predicated on the fact that people want to know more about Brown, but do they? Is there evidence? Or have people already got a perception of Brown and are happy or unhappy with that? There are a range of assumptions that may be true for commercial brands, such as you can change the image using a funny ad, but are there really obvious parallels with politics? The ads though depict straight-talking, the big question is; whether straight-talking is possible in a competitive media environment and if politicians should really always tell it like it is? Couldn't resist offering this ad to help us consider the parallels!