Jeremy Corbyn and the value of authenticity in PR

CorbynThis post was written by a (non-Labour supporting) member of the Weltch Media team in August 2015, during the campaign for the leadership of the party.

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured, is currently [Aug 2015] providing the biggest shakeup to the Labour Party since the creation of New Labour in the 1990s.

Corbyn, 66, who was elected to the House of Commons in 1983 as MP for Islington North, has created front-page newspaper headlines since his surge in the recent leadership polls.

Party members, who helped bring Labour into the political centre during the 1990s after years out of 10 Downing Street, are understood to be concerned that the self-described socialist could win the contest.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair recently suggested that Labour would need a “transplant” if Corbyn was elected leader and in a similar statement of intent, former Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the “madness” should be ended over his candidacy now.

With a grizzly beard and no tie, Corbyn doesn’t look the slightest bit concerned. Since announcing his intentions to run a couple of months back, Corbyn’s rise in the polls has been meteoric. He currently has a 20% lead over second place Yvette Cooper in the latest Sky News poll.

And although the rise of the lone-wolf, anti-establishment figure has come as a surprise to many, followers of the political arena know that outsiders are a growing phenomenon in western democracies today. Just last year, Nigel Farage’s UKIP swept the European elections in a “protest vote” and in the United States right now, businessman Donald Trump is leading the Republican polls whilst socialist Bernie Sanders (who is the longest serving independent member of Congress) trails only Hillary Clinton in the Democratic polls.

The truth is, people want to vote for people they like – the saying often goes, could I share a pint with him/her? Many respect Corbyn’s anti-establishment attitude and the way he has conducted himself so far – he has not been seeking the “celebrity” side of public life or big money donations from corporations. He also isn’t afraid to speak ill of his own party or dress against the political norm.

Indeed, Corbyn’s political positions may seem radical to many, but his rise to first place in the Labour leadership polls has not been achieved through heavy campaign spending or bashing opponents – it has been orchestrated by a PR campaign of “authenticity”. He knows that he doesn’t have the donors or the media on his side, so to strike a chord, he has decided to invest time in explaining his controversial beliefs to people to get votes the old fashioned way.

Even the most anti-Corbyn voices will admit that he has orchestrated a terrific leadership run. Through promoting his unapologetic views and anti-establishment tone, Corbyn and his campaign team have been able to create one of the most effective political runs in recent history – illustrating the value of authenticity in public relations.

 Footnote: Corbyn won the leadership election.

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