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General election: What makes a successful communications strategy?

Anushka Asthana, Lee Cain, James Schneider and Katy Searle joined us to discuss general election communications strategies.

Panellists on stage at the Institute for Government

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From attacking opposition policies to rebutting opposition attacks, selling key messages to voters and shaping media narratives, general election campaigns can be won or lost on the success of a communications strategy. 

So how do the parties design and deliver their approach to the media, or to communicating beyond the media? How different are the approaches needed for print, broadcast and online? Are the challenges different for the Conservatives and Labour? What are the key moments and potential turning points in a campaign? And what happens when an unexpected event, gaffe or story threatens to derail a general election campaign?

To examine how Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer are communicating with the electorate as the general election approaches, and to explore the lessons of previous campaigns, the Institute for Government brought together people who have led communications strategies for government and the opposition, and shaped election coverage for national broadcasters and newspapers.

  • Anushka Asthana, Deputy Political Editor at ITV News
  • Lee Cain, Downing Street Director of Communications (201920)
  • James Schneider, Head of Strategic Communications for the Labour Party (201620)
  • Katy Searle, Head of BBC Westminster (201720) and Executive Editor of BBC Politics (202022)

The event was chaired by Jill Rutter, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government.

Photos from the event can be viewed on our Flickr page

Follow us on X (formerly known as Twitter) @ifgevents and join the conversation using #IfGgeneralelection.

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