In the music industry you have a “hit” which is when something gets in the top ten and then disappears after a week, and you have a “proper-hit” where something goes top ten and then sticks around for about a year. This morning I awoke to find that video had gone “proper-viral”.
The thing is substance-wise, his position isn’t awful. I spoke to a few fair-minded PCS friends who took part in the strikes yesterday. They confided in me that, although they think the Government’s proposals are unfair, they agreed with Ed that it’s too early to strike. They would rather their leadership continue to negotiate and wait until the more prominent Labour-affiliated Unions are ready to either settle or join them on the picket line.
The video itself reminded me of an old job where we had to do a short political spot for the evening news. We were told they were just going to drop-in a short quote from us in a longer piece. We did the recording and were very happy with how it went. The short interview subtly changed the angle of the piece they were doing to an argument we were more comfortable having. Our guy looked great on television and there were smiles all round.
Of course had they put the whole interview online you would have seen a scene pretty similar to Ed’s. An interviewer gets the same answer to five different questions with the added bonus of our guy stumbling over his words, apologising and stifling a giggle. The point was when you cut it down to ten seconds in the middle of a wider piece it looked great and made exactly the point we wanted to make.
Now I don’t know the wider circumstances of what went into “that video”, and I’ll leave others to comment on the interviewers account of the conversation, but working out a simple line, sticking to it and repeating it over and over is page 1 of Peter Mandelson’s “How to do New-Labour Media”. Frankly, like New Labour, times have changed and it doesn’t work anymore. What you have instead is a wonderful illustration of “How to do Political Communications in 1997” and “How not to do Political Communications in 2011”.
In the recently released biography of Ed Miliband, by Medhi Hassan and James Macintyre, a story is told about how Ed Miliband, then a visiting lecturer at Harvard, used a Jeremy Paxman interview of Tony Blair in the 2001 General Election campaign to illustrate a wider point he was making about attitudes to inequality.
If Tony Blair should ever find himself in the position of visiting lecturer he may wish to return the favour.