Plays for the Prime Ministry: Deflect vs. Recast


As we enter the final two weeks of Australia’s Federal Election, not surprisingly the influence strategies of the two main parties and their leaders become centred on lower-risk conditioning.

What’s fascinating is the analysis of the two main Plays and the possible reason for each.

Yesterday (August 25) Tony Abbott formally launched the Liberal-Nation Party Coalition’s formal election campaign.

(A note of explanation to overseas readers. If you thought that this campaign had already been running for two weeks, think again. Only after the ‘formal announcement’ do the parties pay for the campaigns themselves. Until then, the taxpayer does. The Australian Labor Party announces its formal campaign this coming Sunday, September 1. Take a look at today’s Sydney Morning Herald article for background.)

In influence strategy terms, invoking the Playmaker System of Influence Strategy, it was ultimately a big Deflect: he chose, for his own reasons, not to make firm promises on (for example) a return to surplus, on funding details, or on other details or commitments that might, after his presumed election win, trip him up. He does not want to be in the position of an opponent saying “a-ha, you said…”

It’s not a Pause because he can’t (nor wants to) stop his messaging against the Government and he knows he can’t say nothing for another two weeks.

On to Mr Rudd. His focus over the last week has been to run Recasts: on the so-called carbon tax for example (saying that Labor had no mandate to introduce it), on seeking to, and seeming to acknowledge, ousted PM Julia Gillard’s decision not to attend his forthcoming formal campaign launch, and on reminding the voters of the vision for the future as he sees it.

What marks the two positions is that Kevin Rudd’s Recasts seem more about creating a position for himself in history. They seem to be directed at his own party and supporters, and at posterity. That polls indicate that his own seat might be at risk seems to underpin this influence strategy. 

In short, he’s Recasting the last six years of Labor as “not really my fault” (even though he was PM for nearly three of those years).

Tony Abbott at the coalition campaign launch in Brisbane.      [DF]-Deflect

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.          Recast

Both the Recast and the Deflect sit in the Condition Playcalling class, the influence strategy that seeks to ready an audience for things to come, rather than manage a status quo, or engage an audience. 

Picture credits: Tony Abbott – http://images.smh.com.au/2013/08/26/4692123/DA—election-20130826072747734179-620×349.jpg/Glenn Hunt.
Kevin Rudd – http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/national/election-2013–day-21-20130825-2sjfk.html?selectedImage=7/Andrew Meares

About alansmithoz

Head of Strategic Business Communications at Australian social analytics technology company Digivizer, with a background in corporate public relations and marketing. I do what I do because I believe communications can make a difference.
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