On Message Cartoon 17 March

It’s vital to stay ‘on message’

March 17th, 2020

In the good old days (say, 20 years ago), it was normal to tailor messages to different audiences. So, one had a press releases for media, a statement for politicians, an update for employees, etc.

This does not work anymore because the world is too fast, and now consistency is the name of the game.

This weekend, the UK government got itself in a lather over its stance on Covid-19. (Sorry for bringing this up again as it is getting almost as boring as Brexit, but there is much to be learnt.)

Here’s what happened: an anonymous government source briefed one journalist that the government was looking to ‘herd immunity’. So that if enough of us get the bug, we would all eventually get immune.

This was very much at odds with the government line of ‘Keep calm and carry on’ – at least that’s what I thought it was.

The result: different spokespersons are on TV and social media giving slightly differing lines. This makes the government look disorganised and out of control.

And, of course, all the journalists who were not privileged to get the briefing were really miffed, so the government made enemies it did not need.

I believe there should be one spokesperson and probably this should not be the Prime Minister. Bring out one of the boring scientists. After all, surveys show that people have a high regard and trust in scientists and very little for politicians.

Ideally this spokesperson should have a monotonic voice capable of putting even the most truculent baby to sleep.

It also takes the key player away from the line of fire. Sure, the PM can make occasional statements and needed without being in a perpetual goldfish bowl.

Have a good week.

Tom

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