Praise for Budget comms

The Treasury PR team has been congratulated by senior PR professionals for its 'deft and judicious' communications around this week's controversial Budget.

As Chancellor George Osborne prepared to announce the harshest Budget for 30 years on Tuesday, the PR effort was led by the Treasury's head of news Dan York-Smith, working with head of press Jean-Christophe Gray and the Downing Street PR team, overseen by director of comms Andy Coulson.

In an attempt to win public support for the four-year austerity drive, certain aspects of the Budget were revealed to the media in advance (for example, the hike in VAT was widely anticipated), while numerous interviews and press statements were employed to emphasise the scale of the country's debts.

Luther Pendragon director Mike Granatt said the Treasury had been 'reasonably deft and judicious in the number of solid items they have kited, while sustaining the pressure of gloomy rhetoric' in the run-up to the announcement.

He added: 'The great danger is to set off too many hares, allowing critics to complain of scare tactics later, and undermining Osborne's own credibility for statements yet to come.'

On the morning of the Budget, evaluation specialist Kantar Media Intelligence suggested an equal split of positive and negative coverage.

Analysis by the firm revealed six positive, seven neutral and seven negative mentions in the tabloids.

The broadsheets were equally split, with 13 positive, 16 neutral and 13 negative mentions.

Portland PR partner and former Sun political editor George Pascoe-Watson said Coulson's long-term media strategy had been exemplary.

'The media were warned by David Cameron and George Osborne up to two years ago that pain was coming,' he said.

Cicero director and chief corporate counsel Iain Anderson said this had been the most 'positioned' Budget since 2007, but added that more clarity could have been given on capital gains tax.

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