From TV interviews, to fringe meetings, and booze fuelled evening events, the presence of a certain Australian communications strategist loomed over Symphony Hall in Birmingham last week. “Securing Britain’s economic recovery” was the buzz phrase at #CPC14, and it is the brain child of one man, Lynton Crosby, AKA David Cameron’s answer to Alastair Campbell.
While only a Conservative majority will justify the Crosby way in the eyes of disgruntled backbenchers, from an agency comms perspective, it was fascinating to see his plan in action. The Cabinet stuck rigorously to his brief, regardless of the questions thrown at them, and the art of bridging was very much on show. It was easy to lose count of the number of times Cabinet ministers would deflect tricky questions around sex scandals and party defectors, and get back on to the “long term economic plan”. But this wasn’t just in evidence when the camera was rolling. From Twitter to the blogosphere, the economic message was front and centre of everything.
The Crosby approach reinforces the importance of clients focusing on just a few key messages. This advice seems obvious, but is often forgotten during the interview pre-briefing process. It never does any harm to spend that extra time ensuring that briefing documents explain points such as when and how to bridge, and that thought is given to exactly what the message should be. Also, that all important pre-brief call to a client before he speaks to the Financial Times. For this alone, comms professionals – regardless of the sector they work in – could do worse than take a few tips from Cameron’s wizard of Oz.