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Yesterday an article appeared about Jeremy Corbyn’s social media by Martin Robbins in the New Statesman.
For me it spectacularly misses the point. Attacking junior Labour staff is like blaming British troops for failure at the Battle of the Somme.
It explicitly attacks Jeremy Corbyn’s Social Media Manager Jack Bond and calls for him to be replaced. This is simply really unfair on Jack. He’s without doubt one of the most talented people in Jeremy’s office. He works incredible hours under intense real time pressure and does a very good job in challenging circumstances. Without him it would fall apart.
He has single handedly built Jeremy’s social media into a juggernaut that reaches millions of people every week.
Many senior MPs and insiders hold him in high regard with one saying to me, “Blaming Jack for this is a joke and very unfair”.
Let’s be clear though that Jack isn’t responsible for the messages he is asked to put out. He isn’t responsible for Labour Party brand guidelines or image. He doesn’t make the graphic templates that are put out. He isn’t in charge of what goes out and on what day.
That is ultimately the job of the person who is in charge of strategy and communications. Martin in his article says, “No professional PR person worth his or her salary would post something this bad on the Internet. They would be embarrassed and ashamed to have their name associated with it”.
This is I understand, although he would never say so publicly as he is consummate professional, is Jack’s position. Sources say he is frustrated at the lack of resources and the messages he is asked to put out. To be clear I haven't spoken to Jack about this article.
What this article highlights though is just how bad the loss of Simon Fletcher, the former Director of Campaigns, is for Jeremy Corbyn. Now he has left there is nobody in Jeremy’s office with experience of running message based integrated campaigns for the Labour Party.
Successful campaigns need someone planning a grid weeks in advance that include advertising campaigns, direct mail, stunts, press events, digital stunts, emails, social media and the entire arsenal of tools available to 21st century campaigners to deliver an integrated communications strategy.
They need someone who brings in the right staff and manages them to deliver the agreed strategy.
They need innovation, structures, planning, skill, ingenuity and hard work. The media machine is a beast that needs constant feeding. If you don’t feed it, quite simply it feeds on you.
For example who decided to launch Labour’s local election campaign on the same day as Ken Livingstone’s disciplinary hearing? It wasn’t the social media manager.
Blaming junior Labour Party staff for its systemic communications failure treats a cut without treating the disease causing it.
You need seasoned campaign professionals like Simon Fletcher.
I’ve worked on hundreds of campaigns over my career. I know what works. What the Labour Party is doing right now isn’t working. But blaming junior staff needs to stop.
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