I put a comment on one of Steve’s posts a few days ago and he suggested I put it up as a post so here goes:
National have been playing a hit and run public relations game for a few years now. It’s not a bad strategy for an opposition as the news-cycle moves so fast nowadays that by the time the facts are out the story is old news and there’s a new ‘scandal’ to focus on. This PR tactic usually ends in a loss of credibility but so far the media don’t seem to be fatigued by National.
If I was advising the government I would suggest they put a lot of resource into follow up. Actually contacting the journalist who ran the story and having a bit of a yarn about the story and the hit and run tactic once the dust settles is a good way of inoculating later attempts. It takes a lot of work but over a period of a few months you can render the tactic useless.
I really don’t think Labour have enough PR people who are willing to approach journalists and do this in the way it needs to be done. They are too focused on big picture ‘brand’ work. Call me old fashioned but I don’t think ‘branding’ is any substitute for just wandering down to the gallery and having a yarn every so often and I think a failure to do so can put a party at risk of seeming out of touch and arrogant in the eyes of the people that they rely on to communicate their stories.
I’ll add to this that another part of the hit and run tactic is it works to stop serious and engaged debate on any single issue. And lack of debate means the polly doing the hit and run can avoid the question “And what would you do about it?” That’s a blessed thing indeed for a party that has no policy and seems to have no answer other than “trust us we’ll do better”.
Today’s version of this tactic is the over liquor licensing. You’ll see if you read the story that National has no answer, they are just pillorying the government but the thing is I know someone who has worked on this policy and I can tell you there has been a lot of time and energy put into it. Of course by the time that information comes out the Nats will be onto another scandal and the media will have followed them.