Danny Rogers: Sound bite culture shows its absurdity

If you haven't already watched Ed Miliband's hilarious 'interview' with ITV's Damon Green on YouTube, it is well worth a view. It lays bare this country's 'sound bite' political culture. It also illustrates the challenges for those working in politics, journalism or PR.

Danny Rogers: Sound bite culture shows its absurdity
Danny Rogers: Sound bite culture shows its absurdity

In the clip, Miliband gives exactly the same answer five times to completely different questions. Some observers say he looks stupid. I'm not so sure. He has obviously been told to do exactly that.

Green, the journalist, posted the clip on YouTube because he claims to be outraged by such behaviour. And yet, at the time, he fails to challenge Miliband's answers or comment on the absurd repetition.

The depressing thing is the game in which the politician, PR advisers and journalist are inauspicious players.

Of course one can understand Team Miliband's strategy. The broadcasters demand one sound bite for a story, and he was providing this. There is nothing wrong with deciding a 'line' on an issue and delivering messages in sound bites.

Unfortunately such a strategy is no longer sufficient. The nature of today's media requires politicians, companies or brands to display authenticity and a compelling narrative. Where once you could control the message, now it is an ongoing conversation with various stakeholders through a variety of media.

Authenticity and narrative mean proper engagement. So why not have a proper conversation with that journalist? As long as his position was clear and he understood the strategic narrative of his argument, Miliband should have relaxed and talked to Green as a human being.

Green said he felt 'embarrassed'. But much of that embarrassment was surely that he didn't feel able to interrogate the leader of the opposition, the very basis of journalism. All of which underlines the unhealthy nature of political discourse in this country.

Miliband's more pressing problem, however, is a complete lack of credibility in any such discourse. He is failing abjectly to cut through on any of the important issues facing the country.

Miliband's only chance for success is to be less robotic and more authentic. One doesn't doubt that he is a good man and a bright guy. Red Ed should therefore have the confidence to engage fully with his public, using both traditional and digital media.

If he yearns for power, legacy or change, Miliband needs to become famous for insight, passion and rhetoric - not amusing clips on YouTube.

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