PR Week – Tories Blog Plot

September 25th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

Interesting story on the front of today’s PR Week about rival Labour and Tory plans to dominate the blogosphere. More on the Labour/Draper story at a later date but the Tory plan caught my eye. Apparently they’ve been working with Screen West Midlands to gather together a group of local bloggers and give them ‘VIP access’.

There will be access to politicians although I think Rishi Saha, Tory head of new media, is struggling to guarantee specific shadow ministers. This is a small but positive move and reflects the approach in the US, where for example the McCain campaign has daily conference calls with bloggers, including UK Tory bloggers! Loic le Meur also used this on the Sarkozy campaign.

What’s fascinating here is that they have chosen non-political blogs to take part in this. The guests are blogging in the arts, culture and entertainment spheres. The aim is to build a groundswell of support amongst general opinion formers who may be persuaded to engage and debate Tory policies as opposed to rabidly backing or attacking.

It’s a laudable aim but if it’s going to work the Tories need to show genuine long term commitment to this and make senior people regularly available in person, phone, email between now and the election. The danger is that the bemused bloggers are hurded into a backroom in Birmingham for tea and buscuits, have an awkward Q&A with a bemused shadow cabinet member and then having ticked a box forget all about it.

Its also interesting that the Tories have used Screen West Midlands to get these bloggers together. I guess they must be local leaders in new media as opposed to Tory supporters. It’s important to find a local group such as this you need to convene a group of the local blogerati.

10 out of 10 for effort, would love to get reaction from the Brummie bloggers as to what actually happens. Those taking part will include Dave Harte, Podnosh and CreatedinBirmingham.com.

13 Responses to “PR Week – Tories Blog Plot”


  1. Chris Says:

    Hi Mark, I’m Chris and I run Created in Birmingham. Thanks for the post about this. The bloggers who are going along are a fairly noisy bunch so there should be plenty of reactions to dissect.


  2. Blogging for the man : Chris Unitt Says:

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  3. Matt Wardman Says:

    Do you happen to have a full list of the 10?

    It seems to be a mini-MSM media strategy rather than a political conversation strategy, which I find interesting.

    Matt Wardman


  4. Mark Hanson Says:

    So cynical! I guess Rishi Saha understands the benefits of doing it properly but had to interest the higher echelons in the MSM halo effect in order to get it prioritised.

    Don’t have full list.

    Chris U – do you?


  5. simon gray Says:

    I’m happy to declare that I’m one of the 10.


  6. Praguetory Says:

    Look forward to seeing any of you guys there. Screen West Midlands did contact me, but as I already have a pass, there wasn’t much point having me on the list.


  7. Chris Says:

    Nope, not got a full list. Just the peeps you’ve mentioned and the ones coming out in the comments here. Guessing it’s going to be like another Birmingham bloggers meet.


  8. Matt Wardman Says:

    MW>It seems to be a mini-MSM media strategy rather than a political conversation strategy, which I find interesting.

    Mark Hanson>So cynical!

    It’s a PRBlog, what am I supposed to do 😉

    But I’m not being cynical nor making a judgement – just observing on the approach they seem to be taking, which seems to be around “Birmingham New Media” rather than “Conservative Bloggers”.

    It is a different route than (say) the Lib Dems, so it is interesting. There are possible cynical comments, of course – but I didn’t make them.

    >I guess Rishi Saha understands the benefits of doing it properly but had to interest the higher echelons in the MSM halo effect in order to get it prioritised.

    I don’t agree totally – there have been *really* serious bloggers right at the top for some time (Boris Johnson, John Redwood for two).

    If you are interested, I wrote about Conservative blogging strategy here:
    http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/2008/09/08/o-blog-a-tory-notes-on-conservative-party-blog-strategy/

    And posted a guest article from Mark Pack (Lib Dem official online guru) here:
    http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/2008/09/22/blogging-strategy-diversified-and-unofficial-works-best-guest-blog-platform-by-mark-pack/

    Rgds
    Matt W


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  10. Mark Hanson Says:

    Matt – I liked the Mark Pack piece, Mark’s always worth a look. He does old fashioned blog engagement really well, the kind of thing the big two just don’t do.


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