What lessons can politicians (or aspiring ones) take from the 2016 Australian election schmozzle? As someone who helps organisations get their message across in the media, I’ve put together 10 points that leaders should take note of. Those wanting any ghost of a chance in 2019 should ignore these points at their peril.
- Don’t say something you don’t believe in. Us voters see through it even if your media advisors don’t. Malcolm had to alter his stance on many things to appease the party yet he never believed any of it. Taking responsibility for the dismal campaign performance was his latest piece of rubbish. He knows it wasn’t completely his fault yet is taking the rap. It’s like he’s drugged.
- Never look at the camera in a TV interview. Scott Morrison take note. It makes us think you’re lying. Are you?
- Don’t wear a hi-vis fluro vest. Sorry but we’re over it. Why you need to wear a hi-vis vest when you’re in the car park is a mystery to us all. Will cars fall? Take responsibility for your own wardrobe. Don’t listen to the media advisors.
- Don’t have lots of people behind you nodding at everything you say. It looks stupid and like something from a Monty Python film. Be strong on your own.
- Don’t talk about the economy all the time. It’s boring. As a matter of fact, don’t talk about it at all. Talk about human stuff; stuff like kids education, aging, Aboriginal recognition, jobs for young people and voluntary euthanasia.
- Don’t mention immigration. We instantly turn off. DO talk about safe suburbs, the crime rate and the great communities that people from different cultures create. Acknowledge there’s a problem in some areas of the country. Be real about it and know you can’t please everyone all of the time.
- Say “I don’t know”. This would be sooooo refreshing. It’s OK to say this as we’ll all then think you’re normal. Are you?
- Don’t hang around with other politicians. That’s right – you can’t trust them and their very presence next to you could bring you down. Get a group of besties who are normal people who wear normal clothes (no hi-vis) and actually drive a car. You might like it!
- Don’t be perfect. There is a shift to REAL people making REAL mistakes but trying their butts off. Swear occasionally and do the shopping.
- Ignore your media advisors and PR people. You can’t trust them and they all take too much marching powder. Their world is of big data and big image. Your world is of real people with real human nature who can shift with the wind. No big data here – just be the mammal you are.
Hopefully these 10 points will help. If you want to ignore them, that’s OK. You’ll just continue to get what you’ve already got.
Phil Dye is an educator at the University of NSW, a media trainer for social causes or not for profit and a social commentator. He has written three books and made more than 300 mistakes.