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Rishi Sunak Public Relations (PR) Politics

The rain of Rishi Sunak and the Tory election launch cringe


By Gordon Young, Editor-in-Chief

May 22, 2024 | 3 min read

The Tories urgently need to up the ante when it comes to communication if they are not to be wiped out, as their General Election launch underlined.

Rishi Sunak

Sunak delivers a rain-soaked speech / Credit: YouTube screenshot

Oh dear. The Tory Party kicking off their general election campaign seemed to end up as a series of own goals.

Political campaigns are high-stakes affairs where every detail matters. Recent blunders during campaign launches emphasize the critical role of strategic and effective communication in shaping electoral outcomes.

Unfortunately, it seems the Conservative Party’s communications team missed the memo. The launch, spearheaded by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, was marred by a series of avoidable blunders, from a rain-soaked speech to mishandled (or, should I say, manhandled) media relations.

These missteps not only overshadowed the intended messaging but also painted a picture of a party ill-prepared for the road ahead.

The choice of holding an important campaign speech outdoors without a solid contingency for London’s famous rain proved to be a significant oversight. As the heavens opened, soaking Sunak, it served as an unwanted visual metaphor for a leader at the mercy of unforeseen circumstances.

Adding to the embarrassment were nearby demonstrators playing the Labour anthem Things Can Only Get Better well within earshot. This was the opposite of a ‘D-Ream’ launch.

The image of him standing there with his soaking wet jacket was reminiscent of the images of French president Francois Hollande when he got drenched during his inauguration procession in 2012. He never seemed to recover. And this could become a defining image, too – mind you, at least the PM seems to favor suits that are pre-shrunk.

But why on earth did they decide to hold this event outside at all? And even after they had committed, surely someone could have been on stand-by with an umbrella? Sunak claims to be a man with a plan for everything – except this launch.

It didn’t end there. Further compounding the day’s errors was the decision to exclude a Sky News journalist from the evening campaign event. Its presenter was manhandled out by security live on air. Talk about sub-optimal optics.

The entire day, from the rain-drenched speech to the exclusion of media, symbolized a campaign kick-off in disarray.

If they stand any chance, their PR team has to get its act together.

Rishi Sunak Public Relations (PR) Politics

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