Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has revived his ‘Tim Talks’ format from the leadership contest, with a new video out yesterday.
Here it is in full, along with seven points to note about it:
- Fiscal responsibility gets pole position: Tim Farron emphasised the need for fiscal responsibility during the leadership contest, and he’s not changing course now he is leader. In that sense, he’s the Continuity Clegg candidate, but it’s a form of fiscal responsibility which (like Nick Clegg before him) isn’t the same as that of the Tories, because it leaves room to borrow to invest, something the Tories want to rule out.
- The usual Farron policy favourites are mostly present and correct: no huge surprises in the other policy areas mentioned, such as Europe and housing. But it’s sensible to talk about the economy first, as that is the issue voters consistently say is the most important to them. Adding to that issues which help define the Liberal Democrats more clearly is important, but the party needs also to be talking about what voters are most worried about.
- It’s a good format: going for videos, rather than – say – Nick Clegg’s weekly ‘Letter from the Leader’ – makes sense in playing to Tim Farron’s communication strenghts.
- But it’s a hard format to succeed with: video is a sensible choice but also a tough one to make work for political messages. Video and YouTube in particular are often hugely popular outside of politics, but it is rare for a political YouTube video to get more than a low four figure number of views. Yet the audiences for, say, emails from national parties are ones which require adding zeroes to the end of that. So a good format, but one that will only be successful if the videos are carefully and heavily promoted as part of an integrated publicity push. Not going all out on the first video makes sense as a soft launch is easier to get right. But not going all out four or five videos in will be a sign of likely failure.
- It’s a format calling out for volunteer help: the production qualities are basic. Competent (and I’ve done far worse at times*) but basic. A little bit of expert touch with framing and lighting in particular makes a huge different – and official subtitles would be good to see too. Although staff time is hugely stretched, these are just the sort of skills many new (and not so new) party members have – and it would make sense to make use of those in the future as the format gets bedded in.
- Who is the video aimed at? One other thought about the production – it isn’t clear who the video is aimed at, in that most of it sounds like it is pitched at the wider public, until at the end it sounds more like it is really for members. Clarity either way will help make future ones successful.
- If you run your own website/blog you can have the latest videos appear automatically on your website: the Tim Talks videos are picked up via my Lib Dem Buttons service – just add them to your own site.
* Just ask Martin Tod about the incident with the microphone.