Top of the month: 'Leave' offers a masterclass in effective comms campaigning

The movement for Britain to leave the European Union did everything a successful PR campaign should.

One might disagree with its goal – indeed, most PR bosses did – but it was indisputably effective.

It was multi-faceted, data-driven, strong on social, firm on rhetoric, unafraid to push boundaries (too far at times, admittedly), it hit different audiences with different messages and was blessed with a key ingredient; passion.

While PM David Cameron and Britain Stronger In Europe dominated the pro-EU side of the debate, ‘leave’ had many faces. While there was often disagreement between its constituents – official lead campaign group Vote Leave and Leave.EU in particular – this just meant it was possible to support one aspect of the Brexit campaign and virulently disagree with another.

On the ‘remain’ side, the one option was voting for a sterile, uninspiring establishment choice. Yes, some Brexit campaign tactics particularly the tone on immigration, the now infamous ‘£350m a week for the NHS’ claim – were questionable.

Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that when push came to shove, 'leave' managed, against the odds, to persuade the majority of the voting public to opt for something that many in the metropolitan elite had so quickly and frequently dismissed. 

It was, in short, everything ‘remain’ was not.

While pro-EU media and society may try to rewrite history and claim that the vote was purely a result of Stronger In’s failings, that would not do justice to the hard work and nous of the Brexit campaigners.

PR and campaigning professionals would do well to learn as much as they can from this era-defining case study.

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