The politics of persuasion

The politics of persuasion

This year’s federal election campaign has ended and we’re all enjoying a blissful hiatus from the world of politics while the chips fall and the major parties nurse their wounds. For those who care to reflect on the election that was, this year’s campaign period was not exempt from an impressive illustration of the power of successful public relations.

It’s rare that we see a more concentrated display of integrated public relations and communications than during a national election campaign period. In contrast to the common misconception that public relations is categorically the same as media relations, an election offers a reminder of the diverse nature of this discipline which overarches all activity intent on building relationship with all important stakeholders – in this case, the Australian people.

With round the clock coverage and analysis of parties and policies, campaign rallies across state and territory, social media stories broadcasting politicians’ each and every move and televised debate to inspire allegiance, you can bet there was a calculated public relations strategy behind all of it.

My point is this, many of these strategies and techniques translate to public relations for businesses and brands. In particular, three themes stood out for me throughout this year's campaign … three PR tools you may want to consider as we move towards the new financial year.


‘A fair go for Australia,’ and, ‘Building our economy, securing our future’. If you picked up a paper or turned on a radio or television during the past month then you’ll likely know which campaign slogan belongs to which party. This is a tribute to each party having one core message permeate their campaign.

People inherently like clarity, direction and transparency; they want to know the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your business – but here’s the catch, they probably won’t ask. Articulating your business’s central core message and supporting key messages equips you for media interviews and business dealings and encapsulates your brand for all marketing collateral and social media content. In time, people understand who you are and what you stand for – and they’ll think they figured it out all on their own.


Journalists have no obligation to be kind to their interviewees and will ask the tough questions on a matter of principle. This election, we saw some very precarious interviews with politicians in the crosshairs over a number of big-ticket issues. If you were paying attention, some of these interviews were a masterclass in how to talk to the media. This particular interview between Triple J Hack’s Tom Tilley and Prime Minister Scott Morrison stood out for me as a defining interview during the election.

Most politicians have the benefit of regular practice in this area. But like everybody else, it rarely comes naturally and takes preparation and training to master. It stems from defining your core messages but extends to delivering them at a moment’s notice and learning how to manipulate tough questions to your benefit. It’s not uncommon for a singular interview to be the make or break of a company.


It can be difficult to execute a targeted campaign when your number one stakeholder is the Australian population as a collective. But, yet again, the election showed us how such a large audience could be broken down into sub-audiences and individually targeted. Take the seat of Herbert for example; while the rest of the country was in outcry about how the Adani coalmine would destroy the Australian environment we hold dear, North Queenslanders saw an opportunity for jobs and economic growth and wouldn’t be told otherwise. The parties recognised this and tried their best to create solutions for both concerned parties.

Perhaps you won’t be placed in quite such a controversial position as this one; but the point remains clear: if an audience or stakeholder is important to you or your brand, it’s your responsibility to understand their behaviour and concerns and develop relationships that are mutually beneficial.

So, just as it acted as the linchpin for all major parties and politicians during the federal election, so too does public relations continue to operate as the foundation for every successful idea, brand and business.

Elevate has helped businesses define their brand, communicate with their audiences and implement strategic public relations for more than a decade. We also have experienced media trainers who can teach you to speak to the media with confidence and brevity. Why not get in touch with us today.

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About the Author - Joshua Stengert

Results driven and outcome focused, Joshua has a strong desire to see clients excel in their organisational pursuits through communication excellence.

His experience in agency positions and across multiple industries has allowed him to dev...

Other Posts by Joshua Stengert

Tags: #PublicRelations #MediaRelations

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