Gillard must be bull-dogged on political leaks & reputation management

Friday last week, I did an enjoyable interview with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Georgina Robinson on the PR disaster besetting Aussie PM Julia Gillard; press leaks from within Labour’s own ranks. I drew an analogy paralleling what her beloved Aussie football rules team had done with a suspected leak just recently; they honoured his contract but speedily dispatched him from the club. As well as what appeared in print today, I had offered a bit of contextual material too. I mentioned that the concept of leaking was nothing new in corporate affairs or political circles; they’re almost a standard part of any PR strategist’s arsenal; leaking a story can actually give you more control over the way the story is profiled and, critically, the timing of when that happens. Leaking can sometimes takes the heat out of a story depending on when and how you release the material. I also discussed the critical role of Channel 9’s Laurie Oakes, a major political pundit, whose scoop broke the story in the first place; the bigger the journalist, the more significant seems the leak they broke. Then there was Mark Latham, a Gillard defender; sometimes your well-meaning allies bring their own baggage to the situ – Mr Latham doesn’t enjoy the best reputation as a sage and reasoned analyst (given his own political performances when he was Labour leader). In my chat with Georgina, I also projected that managing leaks would become harder in the future; with unpoliced social media speculation and commentary running rife, keeping on top of a more porous media environment will be a major challenge for politicos. I joked that it might make political communicators more transparent, then quickly rescinded that statement and quipped I thought they were much too creative to ever lose complete control of the political messaging process.

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