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Public Relations staff challenged by Labor Government leadership crisis


The Prime Minister’s public relations staff have worked hard for their money over the last two weeks, with the arduous Labor leadership struggle reaching crisis point, Gillard Wins Australian Leadership Clash Against Rudd: Timeline. They have certainly been challenged by the recent Labor government leadership crisis.

A challenging fortnight for Labor’s public relations people began on 19th February with the viral YouTube release of embarrassing archived video outtakes depicting Kevin Rudd frustrated and cursing as he spoke to camera for an official video message back in 2007. The Prime Minister Julia Gillard was forced to issue a response denying any involvement after allegations were made that her office had leaked the video footage to undermine Mr Rudd (see the footage and PM’s response: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL_iIee5Hsg).

Then, on 22nd February, Kevin Rudd unexpectedly announced his resignation from the post of Foreign Minister, prompting Julia Gillard to hold a media conference in Adelaide announcing a leadership ballot would take place at 10.00am on Monday 27th.

Such internal strife has been an absolute gift for Tony Abbott and the Coalition. They have sat idly by and watched as the fractious relationships within the Labor Government spilled out, publicly and shambolically revealing the distrust between senior staff. In comparison to the Prime Minister’s media relations team, Tony Abbott’s advisors have been veritably cooling their heels. Propping themselves up with some popcorn to watch the show, the Opposition has had to do no more than occasionally highlight the public loss of confidence in Labor.

Evidently Julia Gillard’s performance at the media conference had the caucus convinced she is right person for the leadership job; she achieved a resounding ballot win of 71-31. This solid win was a victory for the media advisors and speechwriters involved.

The next challenge will be for Gillard’s media managers and advisors to work on a solid strategic plan to help convince the Australian public that Labor can, at last, unite and find a balance between power and integrity, governance and self-interest, political manoeuvring and altruism. So far the odds seemed stacked against them.

As all PR practitioners know, a unified voice and supporting credibility are essential to successfully deliver strong and influential messages to an audience. It will be difficult for Labor’s media advisors to position the Prime Minister to go forth and sell the party’s policies, when their platform is so deeply undermined by this credibility crisis.

Keep visiting our blog to read upcoming posts from the PRinsider, delivering industry people’s accounts about their work as a media manager or press secretary.

Media relations is a vital part of a public relations practitioner’s skill-set. It is a valuable function for all organisations, whether political, corporate or non-profit.

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