Tina Stowell Associates

A press secretary isnt much use if hes only a messenger

January 22nd, 2011 | Posted in Uncategorized

The Times concludes that Alan Johnson’s departure as Shadow Chancellor (and the consequent arrival of Ed Balls in that post) is more significant politically than Andy Coulson’s departure from Number 10. I agree. However, I do not agree with the Times’ view of the limited influence of a press secretary, expressed in the penultimate paragraph of their leader:

The Conservatives will struggle to find someone to replace Mr Coulson, but ultimately this will determine the way that they convey their message rather than the choice of message itself. By contrast, the arrival of Ed Balls in the post of Shadow Chancellor is an important statement about Labour’s economic policy and its offer to voters at the next election will be shaped by it.

Any communications chief – wherever they work and for whomever they speak – is only any good if they (and their boss) understand they have a responsibility to influence the strategy/policy which informs the message they are responsible for delivering.

And that’s because we – the people the organisation wants to influence – are more likely to base our views on what that organisation does than on what it says and we can spot when an organisation says and does different things.

The comms director of any organisation is an incredibly important post with massive responsibilities for corporate reputation.  He/she must be part of the team developing the strategy which they and their team will be ultimately responsible for communicating. And quite frankly, if they are not, they’re not much use to anyone.