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24 May 19

Weekly Media Trends (24 May 19)

Trends > 24 May 19

Borkowski Weekly Media Trends: Next Tory leader | Tesla's new Absolute Unit | 'Milkshaking' as PR strategy

Borkowski Weekly Media Trends

Well well well. The bloody Prime Minister just went and resigned. It's going to be tough to oust that from the front pages for a couple of weeks..!
 

Next Tory leader? The runners and riders

According to oddschecker.com, the top Tory leadership candidates are Johnson, Hunt, Gove and Raab, and according to Guido Media: we can already see the remaining Conservative MPs already begin to sidle towards their preferred choice. A race that has been running just out of sight since the exit poll at the last General Election is now edging into view before it finally bursts into the open on June 7th.
Here are the communication strategies that the Borkowski team would recommend to each of the big hitters.
 
Boris Johnson
The last time an early frontrunner ended up winning the Conservative leadership race was a long, long time ago – and the longer the race, the more chance of an upset. But the Democratic race proves to us that it can be done. Joe Biden and Boris Johnson are similar in a couple of ways – both are household names, and both have gained popularity because they shoot from the hip (in a manner which raises questions about their ability to lead and manage). Johnson should do what Joe Biden is doing – big set-piece speeches to demonstrate charisma and statesmanship, but limited exposure to journalists and the public in order to minimise the chance of a gaffe. It’s simple – make sure every word Johnson utters in public from now until election day comes through a teleprompter. Privately, target the MPs with the smallest majorities and show them polling on how unpopular your rivals are.
 
Jeremy Hunt
The insider’s choice and the candidate least prone to populist demagoguery. Unfortunately for Jeremy Hunt, he campaigned for Remain and that will be used against him day-after-day. He has already spent months preaching the merits of Brexit with the lonely zeal of the converted, but in trying to win over the Brexiteers he’s fighting a battle he’s already lost. Hunt would be better to stay quiet, let Johnson soak up the punishment that comes with being the frontrunner until he stumbles and falls, and position himself as the steady hand in order to sweep up the panicking Cameroonian moderates. Run quiet until the polls narrow.
 
Michael Gove
Michael Gove is a Machiavellian genius and by far the best out-and-out politician in the race. As such, he will almost certainly have a diabolically brilliant plan already locked and loaded. His comms team should just step back and ponder the sheer magnitude and cunning of whatever he has ready. In the meantime, he should get Tom Tugendhat, (the next next Conservative leader) in front of the cameras to make his case. That should solve the ‘whatever charisma is, I don’t have it’ problem that beset the last campaign.
 
Dominic Raab
Raab needs help from his comms team almost as much as Johnson. This is the guy who thought balancing some books on his windowsill would make him look like an intellectual. This is the man who has a rich history of saying offensive things (including the classic British worker ‘lazy’) and this is the man who famously wasn’t aware of Britain being an island until he’d reached the highest level of government .
With all that in mind, there’s only one thing to do; bang the drum of populism as loudly as you can. Promise the undeliverable, demand the fantastic and condemn the sceptical. It’s a playbook as old as time, and the good news is he won’t need to pay the normal price of personal integrity. He already sold that cheaply, a long time ago.

But there are a few decent people running: One in particular - Rory Stewart. He is approachable, intellectual, has military experience, and boasts a hard-fought reputation for loyalty and a good, considered manner with the media. Up against the gaffe-prone Boris or Raab, or a scheming Michael Gove, he might come across as the only adult in the room. With the correct media strategy, he could be dangerous (to his rivals, not the country).


 
Tesla hire themselves an 'absolute unit' to revamp social media strategy

Automotive firm Tesla has hired Adam Koszary, former social media manager at The Museum of English Rural Life, who previously engaged in a bizarre exchange with the company’s maverick billionaire owner Elon Musk.

The Museum’s account exploded in April 2018, when Koszary tweeted a picture of an oversized ram, referring to it as an ‘absolute unit’. 36,000 retweets since it was uploaded – not bad for a picture of a sheep.

Last month Musk changed his Twitter bio to those same words and made the image of the sheep his profile picture. This prompted a witty response from Koszary, who changed the Museum’s own profile picture to an image of Musk’s face. Hilarity ensued.  

Koszary was due to start a new job at the Royal Academy but subsequently announced that instead he would be joining Tesla as Social Media Manager. The news comes as Musk faces pressure from his legal team to rein in his tweets, and stop speaking out of turn. At the same time, Tesla’s share price is slipping, and investors worry the firm is running out of money.

Whether the decision to hire Koszary came from Musk himself, we don’t know. But clearly someone at his company has recognised that social media is not just an extension of traditional communications channels, rather a place where reputational battles are won and lost. Elon Musk is the public face of Tesla, but he looks increasingly burnt out and burdensome on the firm. Switching the responsibility for their image to an undeniably witty social media strategist could be a very astute decision indeed.

 
Stop the 'Milkshaking' before public develops Lactose Intolerance

Put yourself in the shoes of Nigel Farage. At the helm of a well financed, well organised party – with another unlikely electoral triumph in sight but having to deal with the final attacks that come as you hurtle down the home straight.

And boy did they come.

Firstly, Gordon Brown makes a rare speech in Glasgow to launch a broadside into your party's opaque funding process and its mysterious donors. With an undimmed eye for a soundbite he says you ‘Won’t be remembered as the man of the people but as the man of the Paypal.’ 

Secondly, Buzzfeed breaks a story which includes a film of you pitching your party to a room full of far-right ex-Scientologists with close ties to Vladimir Putin. Worse – it is quite literally taking place in a private room at the Ritz. 

Lastly, you are walking through Newcastle city centre and someone throws a milkshake at you and you’re both the subject of sombre think pieces and the laughing stock of Twitter.

This allows you to do two things. Wrench the media’s eye away from the two painful and carefully timed attacks, paint your opponents as inciting violence, and in doing so paint yourself as a humble victim whose arguments are so formidable that your rivals must resort to physical attacks.

You started the day being painted as a stooge of the Kremlin and you’ve ended it doing your best Gandhi impression – and all it cost you was a McFlurry to the chops.

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