Johnson prepares to blog as Labour race hots up

Labour deputy leadership favourite Alan Johnson is to mount a PR offensive with a heavy focus on new media.

The frontrunner in the race to succeed John Prescott wants to emulate the success of David Cameron's WebCameron videoblog.The Conservative leader laun­ched the video­blog last year amid much fanfare.

Education secretary Johnson - who was this week backed by The Sun - has enlisted Stewart Bruce, partner at Leeds-based agency Bruce Marshall Ass­ociates, to co-ordinate his campaign.

Bruce said: ‘We're doing a lot behind the scenes to develop social media and internet communications. Blogs, podcasts, that kind of thing.'

Bruce, a prominent blogger himself, was optimistic that Johnson's new-media offensive would steal a march on Web­Cameron - in which the Conservative leader proffers his views from settings such as his kitchen.

He said: ‘It will use different elements of social media, in the vein of WebCameron but hopefully better.'

Material will be uploaded to Johnson's website in phases. The full product is not expected to go live until after the next election is officially called later this year.

Meanwhile, other candidates for the deputy leadership post have appointed their own PR chiefs.

Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain is using Steve Morgan, director of public affairs consultancy Morgan Allan Moore.

Morgan previously counselled former US presidential candidate John Kerry.

Labour Party chair Hazel Blears is expected to announce her candidacy soon, and is understood to be receiving advice from Weber Shandwick director of public affairs Luke Akehurst.

Akehurst downplayed this, saying: ‘I will be supporting Hazel if she does run but it will be in my spare time.'

Last year, it emerged that international development secretary Hilary Benn was receiving strategic advice from David Evans, MD of Croydon-based The Campaign Company (PRWeek, 8 November 2006).

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