Why Labour can't win on the 1pm updates (so they must continue)

60 new cases in New Zealand today. 

It's not great news but the National Party seems to be most concerned with the lack of a 1pm stand up press conference. Which seems quite contradictory to the position of the last few weeks where the government was criticised for grand standing in the new prime time news slot. Talkback was calling for the 1pm updates to stop, the Greens wanted new, diverse, voices to be added and, "anyone but Aunty Cindy" became a Facebook catch cry. 

Spin. 

The negative term ascribed to communications that someone doesn't agree with. 

The current government has been accused of lacking transparency. So Labour increased communications resources. Then, the government is accused of spin and onboarding Spin Doctors. Newstalk ZB even went so far as to point the finger at Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director General of Health, for "spinning for the government".  

So what's the answer?  As a former public health communications manager myself (see also Spin Doctor) I can tell you there isn't one. 

But here's a few things to note. First, the 1pm update is not a press conference. It's a live, public address to the nation with critical public health and other information that the Team of 5 Million need to hear. There are media in attendance to amplify the messages through mainstream media. The question time is token and laughable, don't pay it too much attention. Second, like it or not, Jacinda Ardern is our current national leader and it's her job to communicate to the people of New Zealand. Yes she has a communications degree (we both went to Waikato) and that has equipped her for the very complex task of turning up, and getting across messages that keep the nation cohesive. It's a very difficult thing to achieve at scale and of course she needs a team of paid advisors. To think that our leader would simply 'wing it' without messaging is simple minded. Third, there will always be tension between official channels and the varying opinions on both mainstream and social media. The 1pm creates an official information source and a relatively safe environment for critical public health messaging. 

The Labour Party is beginning to get spooked by the blow back to 1pm and they need to push on and continue with regular public addresses. It's not spin, it's good communications and yes I agree with National, there should have been one today. 


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