Here’s some advice I’d give Labour if I was Crosby Textor:
You need three negative values you want associated with National (for example: arrogant, “out of touch”, corrupt ;))
You need three positive values you want associated with Labour (for example: democracy, justice, vision).
Pick them using focus groups (for god’s sake don’t use UMR – they seem to think they are strategists rather than just pollsters). Do not think you’re clever enough to second guess the voters by coming up with your own ideas of what they think.
Take the three best performing values for describing each party. This is your communications strategy.
Create a short list of plain synonyms for each value (put the actual value at the top of the list)
These are your key lines for the next two and a half years. (Note: key lines are not research points and they are not 10 pages long).
Have your chief of staff (get a chief of staff), press secs, researchers and anyone else in a campaign advisory role meet each morning to discuss the day’s news agenda. Chair the meeting aggressively.
If your day’s plan is to attack National do so within the framework of one or more of your three values.
If your day’s plan is to boost Labour make sure you do so within the framework of your positive values.
Use your key lines constantly. Make sure every release/attack in the house/interview you do includes these words.
Rinse and repeat. And remember that simple, clear and repetitive is what you need. Don’t try to be clever.
Oh and treat the gallery well and make time to hang out and shoot the breeze with them (they’re actually quite an interesting bunch) because the media’s mood dictates a large part of the public’s mood, and the media’s mood toward your party is simply a magnification of the inter-personal relationship you have with individual journalists.