Key PR takeaways from the UK general election

Politics continues to dominate the news. Theresa May’s snap election resulted in a hung parliament in the UK, with no one party reaching an overall majority and rather than producing a ‘strong and stable’ government, Theresa May’s election gamble has created uncertainty for the country.

As the dust settles on the general election, we can take a step back and analyse the highlights and failures of the main political campaigns and the key PR takeaways.

Target the youth

This snap general election proved the growing importance of social media and online activity to engage voters. Britain’s youth turned out to vote in record numbers, with up to 75% of 18-24 year olds voting. An estimated 66% of this group voted for labour. With the support of his media team, Jeremy Corbyn successfully mobilised hundreds of thousands of young people through the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to deliver what many are describing as a shock election result.

A major factor impacting May and Corbyn’s popularity is their respective social media following. In the six weeks after the snap election was called, the Labour party’s following increased by 61% across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Conservatives’ following rose by just 6% over the same period.

Labour’s social media campaign resonated with young voters because it prioritised brand advocacy and authenticity. Corbyn was so prominent on social media himself that he secured brand advocates from Grime stars through to young people not even eligible to vote. By stark contrast, the Conservatives failed to engage with the majority of the younger population and did not maximise their social media channels.

Photo: Jeremy Corbyn’s Twitter profile. Photo Credit: Jeremy Corbyn

Authenticity is key

Consistency and simplicity are key, as is authenticity. Theresa May’s much publicised U-turns on holding a snap election and social care undermined her core message of “strong and stable” and resulted in a major lack and loss of trust. Although many questioned Corbyn’s track record, he seemed authentic to those he was trying to connect with because he stuck to his principles.

Trust is one of the most important factors for a brand, an asset that builds loyalty, meaningful relationships and, for businesses, ultimately profitability.

Have a personality

When you are the public face of a party or brand you cannot stay invisible. To relate to your target audience you have to reach out to those that want to hear your voice and become the forefront of your campaign. In this case, staying out of the public eye to solely focus on policies and not influence or create interest was a major PR mistake and it cost the Conservatives dearly.

In comparison, Jeremy Corbyn engaged with voters from day one. He took the time to immerse himself in rallies, social media and live TV debates. This made him appear more active to voters, giving the impression he cared more, compared to an absent leader. May failed to emotionally connect with voters and the greater her exposure to the public, the less they liked her.

We await the full outcome with real interest.

Now it’s back to our social platforms…

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Photo: Jeremy Corbyn with voters. Photo Credit: Jeremy Corbyn