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Does press support make any difference to voters?

Government Affairs ,Media

It’s a British phenomenon which always becomes more evident at election time: Britain is essentially a pretty liberal country with a pretty conservative press. So, does press support make any difference to the outcome of a General Election?

It’s a British phenomenon which always becomes more evident at election time: Britain is essentially a pretty liberal country with a pretty conservative press.

To judge from the partisanship of Fleet Street alone, a foreign observer would have to deduce that if the people who buy national newspapers are politically in tune with their chosen titles, the UK was decidedly right of centre.

In circulation terms, loosely calculated, about 72% of UK daily newspapers are right of centre (Sun, Times, Mail, Express, Star), about 10% are in the centre (Independent, FT, Evening Standard – I’m counting their distribution as circulation) and only 18% are left of centre (Guardian, Mirror).

The way Britain votes, however, is significantly different.

Taking the voting share of the eight elections since 1979, adding them together and dividing by eight, an average result has been:

CON – 37.7%

LAB – 34.7%

LIB/SNP – 19.9%

Nats (SNP/PC) – 2.1%

Others – 5.5%

On the basis that the Nationalists are predominantly left of centre voters and that the “Others” – principally the Northern Irish parties would, if combined with the Nats, cancel each other out, we can draw the conclusion that the UK is, in unscientific terms, 58.4% liberal and 41.6% conservative.

But does press support make any difference?

Famously, the Sun claimed to have won the 1992 election – and something certainly seems to have happened in the last 100 days before the final poll, according to this excellent article from May2015.com.

Conservative support rose from about 38 per cent to about 43 per cent while Labour’s share crashed from 44 to 35, the second largest fall it has experienced in the course of an election campaign in the past 40 years.

That might suggest that powerful lobbying by the press – which was particularly hard on Neil Kinnock’s party that year – had a serious effect.

But what was the largest fall in Labour’s support during a campaign in the last four decades? It was five years later for the Tony Blair landslide, a result that came despite polls that started at LAB 54 CON 31 LD 12 changing to LAB 44 CON 31 LD 17.

Why was that significant? Well, in that year, the Sun was campaigning FOR Labour and most of the traditionally conservative press were either following suit or reluctantly backing the Tories.

So it’s hard to argue that the press has any claim to influence the outcome of British general elections.

In fact, the continued dislocation between the political colour of newspapers bought by Brits and the way those same people vote in the only poll that really matters suggests that Fleet Street neither leads nor follows its customers.


Written by: Ben Fenton, Senior Consultant at Edelman

What branding challenges do political parties face?
General Election 2015 - Update 4

Government Affairs

As the election continues, all the political parties are under increased scrutiny. This week, Edelman examines the branding challenges the parties will be confronting in this year’s campaign, while also providing a roundup of the latest developments on the campaign trail.

As the election continues, the increased scrutiny which is the feature of modern campaigns is being brought home to all the political parties – threatening to throw their strategies off course, force them to defend policy proposals in forensic detail, and deal with the potentially vote-losing consequences of damage to their brands.

While marketing a political party to the electorate used to be comparatively straight forward, both the main political parties are now confronted with the task of delivering the kind of retail offer which voters have become accustomed to receiving as consumers.

This week’s Edelman Election Briefing will guide you through the branding challenges the parties will be confronting in this year’s campaign, while also providing a roundup of the latest developments on the campaign trail.

To view the Election Briefing, please click here.

Image: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com

Triumph of the Verticals
By Richard Edelman

Culture ,Media
NYmag header

Edelman President and CEO Richard Edelman discusses New York Magazine's transformation from being a New York City-focused to a national, from a master brand to a focus on the verticals.

A while back, I spoke with Michael Silberman, who runs digital for New York Magazine, at a party for Chartbeat, a metrics provider for media. In a follow-up call, I learned about a six-year transformation of the brand that would take it from being New York City-focused to national, from master brand to a focus on the vertical brands. I also was impressed to know that there are now 27 million unique visitors a month to its sites, which have no pay wall and are supported solely by advertising. I was told that the readers go via mobile optimized versions of the website; apps “are expensive to build, difficult to maintain and hard to get people to download,” Silberman said.

New York Magazine is owned by the Wasserstein family and was founded in 1968 by Clay Felker. Political coverage has been trenchant, with deep analysis of the impasse around the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. From its sections, very successful vertical blogs have been spawned, including:

  • Vulture (as in Culture Vulture)—Begun in 2007, this is now a real rival to Entertainment Weekly. It covers TV, movies, books and art. It has nine million unique visitors a month.
  • Grub Street—Begun in 2006, this is the food and restaurant vertical. It is quite New York City-centric but has engaging pieces on celebrity chefs, food TV shows and the best restaurants in town. This site has 1.5 million visitors a month.
  • The Cut—Begun in 2008, this is the fashion and beauty vertical. It grew out of early coverage of Fashion Week with slide shows of the runway. Now it has added beauty and street style, international style and celebrity style. There are also stories on body image and diet. (Note that with each of these additional sub-groups comes a broader advertising opportunity with brands). This has 6 million unique visitors a month.
  • Daily Intelligencer—This is a news blog and anchors NYMagazine.com. It has “a little media, a little business, a little Wall Street, a little technology,” Silberman noted. Monthly, it has 3.5 million unique visitors.
  • Science of Us—Begun in 2014, this is a sociology and psychology site. It offers research based articles on issues such as Human Behavior and Society. From a standing start in May, it now attracts as many as 2 million unique visitors a month.
  • NYMagazine.com—This is the master site, with between 9 and 10 million unique visitors a month. It takes articles from the print edition and best of the group’s blogs.

There is a combination of playful, short-form content and longer-form, in-depth stories. “We want to get a richer reading experience via the deep immersion in long form,” Silberman pointed out. “But we also want to make things that people want to share and link to.”

He said that editors are constantly using Chartbeat to “see what is taking off. We check headlines. We see that a story is taking off on Vulture and decide to put it onto the main NYMagazine site,” Silberman said.

The creation of these robust vertical products tells you much about how today’s reader consumes content. I graze horizontally in my largely mainstream world; the next generation is vertical, fast and visual. That is why The Economist has launched Espresso as a paid, short-form play in app and digital editions for a daily breakfast read so that there is more consistent connection to readers. The New York Magazine story is an example of relentless progress a step at a time.

This article originally appeared on 6A.M., Richard Edelman’s blog on trends in communications, issues, lessons and insights.

Written by: Richard Edelman, President and CEO at Edelman

Are we really thinking about our data security?


Businesses are starting to take it seriously, but is security and its role in the Internet of Things a concern yet for the consumer? It may not matter if you are buying a watch or fridge, but if it is medical equipment or security for your house then data security really starts to make a difference.

The recent Pitch@Palace was a very British way of searching for, celebrating and rewarding the success of technology in creative industries. Unsurprisingly many of the finalists fall into the Internet of Things category.

You can barely open your eyes in our industry without hearing IOT being mentioned. We are bombarded with figures of how many internet connected things there will be by 2020: according to Gartner it is 25 billion, Morgan Stanley think as high as 75 billion. The precise number doesn’t really matter, we know it is going to be big.

But what does matter with IOT?

Security, security, security.

I should caveat my answer and confess to my bias: I live and breathe security at work. That said, it really does matter.

Businesses are starting to take it seriously. Samsung (Edelman client) CEO, BK Yoon, spoke at CES about the need to embed security into IOT hardware and software – he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last. My concern is the consumer. I know security, I get security but it is pretty low down my list when I go shopping, so for the average consumer I imagine they barely think of it.

Perhaps that is okay when you are buying a watch, or even the often-quoted connected fridge. If you are an hour late, or you end up with 450 pints of milk, you will probably survive. But what if it is medical equipment, or the security of your house? Then it really starts to make a difference.

I suspect that there are varying levels of security built into the technology by the finalists at Pitch@Palace. The team at home security company Cocoon have probably thought about it. But I wonder if everyone has, and I would love them all to prove me wrong. The issue is that consumers do not care enough yet, and for start-ups it is extra time and cost which may get overlooked in those crazy early days of creating the next big thing.

Written by: Victoria Bentall, Associate Director at Edelman

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