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The recent Australian federal election turned out to be a great demonstration of the power of communications.

The recent IABC crisis communication event provided some great insights into a very difficult topic. But buried beneath all the sage advice was a clear undercurrent of concern. What is the perceived value of communications? And how do communicators lead on such a touchy subject when they’re sometimes seen as ‘PR flunkies’, ‘spin doctors’ or (in the words of one presenter), ‘the people who stuff the show bags’?

Despite all the derogatory terms, communications is clearly critical to success. If you’ve got any doubts about that, just look at the recent Federal election.

Both major parties began the campaign fairly close in the polls. And most Australians basically knew what each party stood for and what their big ticket policies were.

So, largely, the election came down to who could best communicate their message.

One party stayed both relentlessly on message and professional in its campaign planning. Well, as professional as you can be in the pressure-cooker of an election anyway.

However the other, as was widely reported, chopped and changed its messages by the hour and conducted often shambolic events. As a result, they copped perhaps the ultimate communications ‘sin bin’: their comms strategy became the story. As the almighty Malcolm Tucker once said…

“The story isn’t me, Glenn. No-one is interested in me and I’ll be pleased if you’d remember that.”

Ultimately, and not surprisingly, the latter party – the then government – was unceremoniously rewarded with three years in opposition.

There’s a lot of people out there today suggesting that the recent election wasn’t the greatest demonstration of our electoral system in action.

But one thing it did highlight – emphatically – was the power of a strong communications strategy… and the people who make it happen.

What do you think?

We'd love to hear how you demonstrate the value of communications. So, click here to read about what some of the world's great thinkers say about communication and have your say at the same time.