Sunday, 23 January 2011

Why Number 10 needs a direct marketing expert as well as a TV guru!


I was struck by Guido Fawkes’ surprisingly thoughtful piece on the current vacancy at Downing Street:

Television will help most voters decide who gets the credit, not broadsheet editorial leaders. Cameron and Clegg are better television performers than Miliband, if they want to exploit that they should hire a director of communications who understands televisual imagery. The media grid planning can be done by Downing Street drones a plenty and Osborne has a good grip on political strategy. Television requires a certain genius. If they want to win over the voters they need a political maestro equivalent to Simon Cowell or Roger Ailes.

Now I agree with this – all the more since on-line activity is rapidly converging with the telly and video is going to be a hugely important communications tool in coming years. However, I think the TV guru needs a right-hand man with another skill set. Not the newspaper skills that tend to dominate spin doctoring nor the blue-sky strategising that many like but an altogether more fundamental set of skills – direct marketing.

Yes the TV image matters but the techniques and technology is headed towards response-based media again. And frankly most in the media and government communications world simply don’t get interactivity and direct response marketing.

So while he’s looking for a TV guru, Dave should also search for a response marketing expert – someone who understands the down-to-earth world of mail order, appreciates the magic words that get response and gets the world that Walter Weintz* described in “The Solid Gold Mailbox”.

Linked to a powerful TV image, such a campaign could transform the way we run political communications – we would combine the ‘common touch’ of TV with the power of effective direct marketing to break past the media gatekeepers and create a direct televisual relationship with the voter.

*Weintz was the man who made Readers’ Digest all those millions by the way!


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