Practise Areas: Media relations, corporate identity, online communications, political relations
Campaign: Media launch, positioning and strategic guidance
Client: The Independent Network
Timescale: Three weeks
Client Details: A new political association to support independent candidates
> To launch a new organisation for independent political candidates to the media
> To create an identity for the Independent Network
> Establish independent candidates as a credible alternative to party political candidates
> To establish a web presence for the Independent Network
Parker, Wayne & Kent was asked to launch a new political association called the Independent Network. At the time of approach the Independent Network existed in concept only and had the backing of 12 supporters. We were initially provided with a two page document that simply outlined the concept for the Independent Network. The new association needed to be established and considered credible by critical media within three weeks, in time for the 2005 General Election.
Strategy and Plan:
Parker, Wayne & Kent’s approach to the creation of the Independent Network was thoroughly researched and methodically implemented. The client wanted to launch the network with a media event. PWK had a very short amount of time to establish the Independent Network as a credible association that would withstand press and public scrutiny. The PWK team’s political knowledge and research was used to develop evidence the UK electorate’s desire for change in the UK’s political system.
PWK compiled a rigorous question and answer document and canvassed the founding affiliates on what they felt were appropriate answers, ensuring all affiliates were satisfied with the conclusions reached. We then drafted the association’s key messages. These key messages were designed to clarify the ideals and aims of the Independent Network and would form the basis of all media relations to deliver accurate, interesting and consistent comment in the media. We also created background documents to provide information to journalists in a format with which they are familiar.
Founding affiliates were consulted at each stage of the process to ensure they agreed with the principles put forth and to guarantee they would be willing to support all aspects of the association.
PWK managed the creation of the Independent Network’s corporate identity by developing its logo and website. All website copy was produced by Parker, Wayne & Kent.
Owing to the client’s minimal experience with the technicalities of establishing a formal association and with media relations, PWK’s remit extended beyond the compilation of media materials and media relations, and entered the sphere of strategic consultancy. PWK advised the Independent Network to create a formal constitution that would define the structure of the association, a code of conduct that affiliates should adhere to, the features and benefits affiliates would be entitled to, and the vetting and voting processes associated with the admission of new affiliates. A public constitution would provide the Independent Network with an appropriate level of transparency and legitimacy.
Parker Wayne and Kent devised the event that would launch the Independent Network. The client wanted to hold a formal press conference and had booked premises for the event prior to contacting PWK. The PWK team conducted a risk analysis based on the success of similar past media events and assessed whether the venue was appropriate. We also assessed the experience Independent Network affiliates and executive members had previously had with the media. Our conclusion was that rather than holding a press conference where the client would be in strict competition with the day’s news and journalists would be limited in their access to affiliates of the Independent Network, it would be more prudent to hold a series of press briefings with individual journalists.
Holding individual media briefings would give journalists individual access to the Independent Network ensuring affiliates and the executive could comprehensively address their questions. Personal briefings are often less intimidating, allow clients to communicate messages more clearly and spend more time qualifying answers to questions.
The launch of the Independent Network secured support from Martin Bell, former independent MP, BBC journalist and champion for the plight of independent political candidates. Martin Bell’s support added legitimacy to the Independent Network and was a significant selling point for journalists to attend the launch.
The Parker, Wayne and Kent team compiled a targeted media list that included relevant political journalists from the national press, radio and television media. A news release announcing the launch of the association was created, sold into the media and a series of press briefings were arranged for the launch of the Independent Network.
The launch of the Independent Network was attended by political editors and correspondents from The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Economist, BBC News 24, Six O’clock News and Radio 4’s World Tonight. An outside broadcast radio interview with BBC World Service was organised and executed in the central lobby of the Palace of Westminster. A post launch telephone interview with The Telegraph was also arranged.
“Within a month of our first discussions regarding the Independent Network, Parker, Wayne & Kent had created the PR strategy, prepared the background information, developed a press release and had us all sitting in the House of Commons with The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Economist, BBC Six O’Clock News, News 24 and Radio 4. Excellent work.” Dan Thompson, Executive Member of The Independent Network