FROM THE EDITOR: The media cannot rule the UK

Is the Government getting a raw deal in the British media? There is a growing feeling that however the Prime Minister - or indeed any cabinet colleague - responds to a big public issue, they are inevitably going to be slammed by the media.

Danny Rogers, Editor, <em>PRWeek</em>
Danny Rogers, Editor, PRWeek

The knife crime debate has brought this to a head, with the Government launching initiatives at the beginning of the week - on the back of huge media pressure - then quickly feeling the backlash as various pundits attacked ideas such as assailants visiting their victims in hospital.

Another, more lighthearted, example was PRWeek's scoop six weeks ago that Gordon Brown was directly telephoning members of the public who has expressed dissatisfaction. Some would say that the Prime Minister tackling public concerns head on was an inspired policy, but when the story was followed up in the national media Brown became a laughing stock.

To some extent one sympathises with the Government. There is certainly a current tide of opinion that ridicules this administration for almost anything it does. On the one hand newspapers scream for action on the latest 'crisis'; on the other they are quick to criticise any 'knee-jerk' reaction.

However, it is also an eternal challenge to turn this tide in one's favour. Like any ruling body the Government must show national leadership to win over media and public confidence.

For too long 'communications' at the heart of government has been about reacting rather than responding.

The viewpoint of the Daily Mail has taken priority over long-term coherent comms strategy. This is where genuinely good PR/comms turns into spin.

Sure, it remains essential to respond quickly in certain cases and to have a finger on the pulse of the tabloids, but it is ultimately what governments do - rather than what the papers say on a daily basis - that really matters.

This Government is getting a rough deal at the moment, but more integration between long-term political strategy and communications tactics will help enormously.


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