Love him or loath him, there is little doubt that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is one of Australia’s most skillful media spin masters. While he spun his way through the election of 2019, spin has a time limit and whatever the election outcome, ScoMo’s media manipulation may have reached the end of the road.
A lifetime in politics, with a brief stint in marketing, has equipped him well to manipulate the media and his ability to get his message where he wants it has been an asset for the Coalition when campaigning.
However, his tricks are increasingly wearing thin and what was once positive, is now creating cynicism as he is assumed to be lying or exaggerating, even when he’s not.
So how does he do it?
Repeat negative key messages endlessly
While Tony Abbott was the master of the three word slogan endlessly repeated, ScoMo is more about negative repetition. ‘Labor is always worse on the economy and security’ ‘Interest rates and unemployment are always higher under Labor’. They may not stack up as truthful, but they play to the electorate’s natural prejudice and endlessly repeated they become believed.
Bridge to your agenda, not that of the media
ScoMo almost never answers a question from a journalist. He is constantly bridging to a different message, all with a smile and endless energetic enthusiasm. It doesn’t always work, but more often than not it muddies the waters enough to confuse negative messages.
It’s someone else’s fault
ScoMo has an automatic impulse not to accept responsibility for stuff ups. On the other hand he gladly takes credit for anything and everything positive, even when it’s nothing to do with him or his Government. This has become a clear liability, but appears to be something he simply can’t help.
Appealing to the working blokes of Australia
Hi-vis has become standard election wear for most politicians. However, ScoMo takes this to a new level and is endlessly referring glowingly to men and their petrol powered utes. While this is part electoral calculation and part personal preference, it does not play well with many women. His challenges in communicating with women in the electorate may yet prove his undoing.
Keep messaging local, except when its not.
Local level messaging and local level expenditure announcements have become a campaigning art under the Coalition. Unfortunately, every electorate has a different agenda and he’s struggled to tell one electorate in the regions one thing, and tell the inner city electorates something completely different. The ALP has struggled with this too, but ScoMo’s strategy seems to be to abandon the city electorates because they don’t suit his personal taste and I suspect he thinks he can win without them.
Will spin be a winning strategy again? Time will tell.