Labour 'new media strategy' revealed

The Labour Party has drawn up a five-stage blueprint that will underpin its initial efforts to dominate the political blogosphere.

LabourList.org: a new Labour website
LabourList.org: a new Labour website

PRWeek has seen a confidential memo detailing the five components that make up phase one of the party's ‘new media strategy'.

The memo was drafted by Labour strategist Derek Draper and sent to Labour Party general secretary Ray Collins on 5 January.

The first element of the strategy emerged this weekend as a new LabourList.org website was unveiled. The site will be edited by Draper and will be formally launched by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson on 12 February.

According to Draper's memo, LabourList.org aims to be ‘the online place where Labour-minded people come together to share news and views and have a laugh... It will unashamedly support the Government and bash the Tories. But it will pride itself on always being open to different opinions and debate.'

The second element is an ‘Obama-style virtual phone bank for Labour campaigners in the run-up to the 4 June elections'. The phone bank will allow people to telephone canvass from home and input results directly into the Labour HQ database. Draper's memo states: ‘With this online tool we have, frankly, leapfrogged the Tories.'

The third element is a ‘take to the web' initiative involving key ministers appearing on the UK's most popular online forums.

The fourth element is a Labour Party HQ blog provisionally entitled ‘View from Victoria Street'. Draper's memo states: ‘Again, this commitment to real openness puts us ahead of the Tories.'

The fifth element is a strong focus on producing ‘virals and widgets'. The memo states: ‘The recent Cameron "economics homework" one was well circulated (and incidentally had Peter M. laughing his head off) and last week's webcabinet chat has been praised extensively.'

The memo concludes: ‘We now need to make a success of launching and delivering on these initiatives and then start further work on phase two. This involves further Obama-style social networking campaigning to involve members and supporters more; the launch of a "blog for Labour campaign" to increase the number of local blogs and the spreading of best practice from our most web savvy MPs and ministers.'

Labour's blogging strategy has developed significantly since PRWeek revealed that work was under way last year (PRWeek, 26 September 2008).

Initially, Draper was keen to kill off damaging stories in the blogosphere, telling a Labour Party fringe meeting: ‘I want to get together an informal group of people to talk about online rebuttal.'

But in a subsequent meeting of bloggers, Draper was said to have pressed home the message that ‘the days of command and control are partly over' (PRWeek, 12 November 2008).

More recently PRWeek revealed that New Labour guru Phillip Gould had told a meeting of Labour bloggers that the party could not attempt to control the internet in the same way that Labour spin doctors tried to control the media under Tony Blair's premiership (PRWeek.com, 19 December 2008).

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