Labour web plan revealed

The Labour Party has drawn up a 'new media strategy' with assistance from leading PR professionals.

Influential: the web presentation was given to Lord Mandelson
Influential: the web presentation was given to Lord Mandelson

The strategy is revealed in two confidential documents obtained by PRWeek.

A memo by Labour strategist Derek Draper details five components that make up phase one of the new strategy.

The first element emerged this weekend, as a new LabourList website was unveiled, intended to rival ConservativeHome.

Other elements of the strategy include: an ‘Obama-style virtual phone bank for Labour campaigners’; a ‘take to the web’ initiative involving key ministers appearing on popular online forums; a Labour Party HQ blog; and a focus on producing ‘virals and widgets’.

Draper’s memo was sent to Labour Party general secretary Ray Collins on 5 January. PRWeek has also obtained a presentation given to business secretary Lord Mandelson on why the party should be using new media.

The presentation, drawn up in December 2008 by Labour strategists, states: ‘As old networks (trade unions, branch meetings, etc) decline, we need to find and be involved with the new, online networks that are developing. Being in the community now also means being in the online community.’

It says Labour should use the web to reach new audiences that are not easily reached by traditional media. But Labour can also use the links between old and new media to better convey its message.

‘Increasingly, the old media take their cues from new media,’ the presentation states. ‘Stories are created, shaped and given new angles online. New media acts as an echo-chamber for messages, especially negative ones.’

Labour’s new media strategy has developed significantly since PRWeek revealed that work was under way last year (News, 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’ (News, 12 November 2008).


Labour new media strategy Key players

Derek Draper
Former lobbyist has overseen the blogging initiative, reporting to Labour’s general secretary Ray Collins.

Lord Mandelson
Business secretary is the main man when it comes to adapting Labour’s overall campaign strategy and getting the cabinet to do things.

Douglas Alexander MP
Along with Mandelson, the person the PM trusts most on campaigning.

David Lammy MP
His speeches and articles about how the party structure must change to reflect changes in society have been well received.

Colin Byrne
Weber Shandwick’s European CEO has provided strategic advice.

Tom Watson MP
First blogging MP and the person the cabinet trusts to explain what new media means.

DJ Collins
Google European comms director has been a key adviser to Draper.

Sue MacMillan
Labour Party new media campaigns chief has played key role in shifting emphasis away from the party website and out into communities.

Charlie Whelan
Brown’s former press secretary helped channel advertising cash to get LabourList up and running.

Damian McBride
Brown’s top media handler ‘gets it’, according to insiders.

Mark Hanson
PR consultant and LabourHome strategist has brought first-hand experience of new media.

Jag Singh
A co founder of the LabourHome blog and one of the few UK players with deep experience of working on US campaigns.

Greg Jackson
Executive director of Tangent Labs, Labour's web agency.

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