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Political pundits may have branded last week’s Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham a boringly spat-free affair but that didn’t stop it receiving a 40 per cent boost in press coverage compared to levels in 2010, according to data obtained exclusively from Precise for CorpComms Magazine.
According to the figures, this year’s Liberal Democrat party gathering was mentioned in 1,493 articles during the week of the conference compared to 1,059 in 2010.
Last year was the first time that Liberal Democrat conference week attracted more than 1,000 articles as the party formed part of UK government for the first time.
This year’s figures show the Liberal Democrat conference notched up in excess of two and a half times the amount of coverage received by the party in 2009 (567 articles), before they entered coalition government.
Kevin Craig, managing director, PLMR, thinks the party had better luck with the news agenda this year. ‘In previous years news events conspired against in their conference week. Northern Rock and Lehman Brothers broke at just the wrong time in previous years. This time they were not squeezed out by other news events.
‘The Lib Dems are also now more organised. The agenda was tightly managed with the intention to reassert their purpose in government and to put an end to the prevailing trend of them being the coalition’s whipping boy. I know they issued more press accreditations than ever before. At the same time Liberal Democrat HQ is also being slowly professionalised and beefed up with some key appointments such as Collette Dunkley – a highly rated marketing expert with big blue chip experience.’
Lionel Zetter, founder of LZ Consulting, thinks the Liberal Democrat’s more combative rhetoric might be the cause of this year’s increased media attention: ‘They felt it appropriate to be dismissive and disparaging of their coalition partners. This went down well with the Liberal Democrat rank and file and with the media.’
Iain Anderson, director and chief corporate counsel, Cicero Group, commented: ‘The key reason for the uptick in Lib Dem coverage is that the party is in power. There are more journalists and corporate communicators at the Lib Dem conference than in the past creating more chatter.’
There were 534 articles written about the party conference during the working week of the Liberal Democrat conference in 2008.
The data took into account online sources for all mainstream UK national newspapers, the main regional titles and major newswire services.